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NMSU to Celebrate Mother Earth at the Community Earth Day Fair

Every year on April 22, the whole world celebrates Earth Day. Started as a day to show support for environmental protection efforts, Earth Day is now celebrated in 192 countries. New Mexico State university’s Office of Sustainability and Organization of Aggie Students Inspiring Sustainability, in conjunction with the City of Las Cruces, continues to put on their Earth Day fair.

“This event is important to Oasis and the Office of Sustainability to educate the public about living a greener, more conscious life” said joni newcomer, manager of the Office of Sustainability.

This year’s Earth Day fair will take place on Saturday, April 22, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Plaza de Las Cruces. The event is a celebration of eco-arts, green businesses, and environmental education and will feature live music and dance, presentations and discussion groups led by local scientists and environmentalists, kids’ activities and vendor booths. It is free to the public.

This year’s fair will be a zero waste event and organizers encourage people to bring their own reusable water bottles, utensils and personal towels to eliminate waste. There will be compost/recycling centers for food, recycling and glass.

The Office of Sustainability has been involved with the Earth Day fair for two years and the OASIS student club has been planning the event for eight years.

For those looking to take part in the Earth Day fair as volunteers, opportunities can be found HERE.  A full schedule of events and presentations can be found HERE and vendor, educator and sponsorship registration can be found HERE.

Author:  Peter Foreman – NMSU

earth day fair

Earth Day is Every Day for one El Paso Water Utility Worker

Earth Day is here and while it’s easy for folks to gloss over the calendar and forget the importance of April 22, some El Pasoans see the date as an opportunity to talk about the importance of environmental stewardship and wildlife preservation.

As an El Paso Water Utilities sample analyst, Elizabeth DeMoultrie spends her day making sure El Paso’s water is safe to drink – but she has another passion.

As part of an ongoing conservation effort, DeMoultrie, master naturalist Benny Pol and the Trans-Pecos Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists are working on making The Nature Walk Trail more accessible for the elderly, the disabled and wounded veterans.

The partnership includes the Chihuahuan Desert Education Coalition, Americas High School Sierra Student Coalition and the Franklin Mountain State Park Park Rangers.

Located in the Tom Mays Unit of Franklin Mountains State Park, The Nature Walk Trail is often times hard for people to reach. DeMoultrie said her chapter is trying to create access to wheelchairs and strollers so that everyone can enjoy the trail and its surroundings. The surroundings includes another of DeMoultrie’s passions— bird watching.

“It’s hard for people in a wheelchair to get in, but we see a lot of people out there who are on crutches or are elderly,” she said. “They love it outside so we want to make it more accessible to elderly, people with stroller or wounded veterans.”

DeMoultrie said they hope to have the trail partially accessible by May with the rest of it scheduled to be fully accessible by the end of the year.

The Trans-Pecos Chapter adopted the trail on August 2013. Since then, they have cared for it, cleaned out trash, and introduced cacti displaced by construction and development.

“I say get out and see what’s around you. …Get outdoors, be aware of the wildlife that’s around you,” DeMoultrie said. “People go through the day and they don’t realize what’s around them.”

baby owls n meDeMoultrie, 51, has worked for El Paso Water Utilities for 22 years. She has spent nearly a decade volunteering to preserve wildlife and their habitats. During her time as a wildlife volunteer, and thanks to her time at EPWU’s TecH2O Center on Montana, she has become a master naturalist. She also volunteers at the Second Chance Wildlife Rescue in El Paso. The organization reintroduces injured animals to the wild.

“If we start losing habitats then we start losing wildlife, and we start losing plants. Everything is connected, even the food that is grown; we need the bees and the pollinators,” DeMoultrie said.

DeMoultrie said her volunteer efforts are meant to preserve wildlife in the El Paso area.

She said that as an EPWU employee, she has the unique benefit to mix work with her passion for wildlife. Part of her job includes taking samples of water.

The Environmental Protection Agency regulates water quality and sets standards for public water systems. Part of DeMoultrie’s job is to ensure EPWU meets regulatory standards. DeMoultrie and her co-workers test 45,000 samples and perform 220,000 analyses annually to ensure that EPWU’s water quality is good and safe to drink.

When the utility has to disinfect a well and examine the water, she sometimes sees wildlife up close. She said that’s an experience that many people miss out on. She’s said she’s always ready with a camera to for a chance to capture wildlife photography.

“When we are disinfecting wells, we have to flush the well out, and water goes out to the field. And there, you see all the wildlife coming in,” DeMoultrie said. “They see a big puddle and they start coming in. That’s the best time to go out there. I have a unique positon where I can go out and see this, and that’s… wow.”

DeMoultrie said working on rescuing wildlife has no comparison. As a recent empty nester, she said that when it comes time to hang up herhatchling lab coat, she will still devote her time to preservation. She is focused on looking after burrowing owls to make sure their habitats aren’t threatened by urban sprawl or industrial construction.

DeMoultrie lauded EPWU’s efforts to share the environment with the owls. The utility last year encountered burrowing owls at the construction of a fleet maintenance facility, near the Rio Bosque Wetlands in El Paso’s Lower Valley.

Instead of displacing the owls, DeMoultrie said the utility set up artificial habitats on site.

Lois Balin, Urban wildlife biologist at Texas Park and Wildlife said DeMoultrie loves working with the owls and anything to do with nature.

“She’s helped me with numerous projects. She’s always willing to help, with a smile. At one point she was my very best volunteer,” Balin said. “It’s a delight to have someone who is wanting to help you contribute to wildlife conservation.”

El Paso’s ESD Celebrates Earth Day Saturday

The City of El Paso Environmental Services Department (ESD) invites everyone to celebrate Earth Day by attending ESD’s Earth Day Celebration from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 23, at the Municipal Service Center on 7968 San Paulo.

The free, annual fun-filled family event will include educational and recreational activities that promote environmentalism and community pride. The celebration includes numerous educational booths, music, crafts and food.

The event also includes pet adoptions from the Animal Services Shelter, ESD vehicle displays, food trucks and ESD’s own mascots, Captain Green and Super Spud the Shelter Dog.

New this year is the Live Art on a giant roll-off container, where guests can enjoy watching local artists create a gorgeous mandala right before their eyes. Children will be invited to help the artists create the stencils for the work of art.

Guests can also enjoy a Recycled Fashion Challenge, where two teams will have 30 minutes to build a beautiful outfit, made solely of recyclable materials, onto models from EB Productions.

For more information on ESD’s Earth Day Celebration and other City of El Paso Earth Month events, visit www.epearthmonth.com

UTEP to Promote Green Initiatives During Earth Week 2016

Creating art from trash and seeing how materials can be rethought and reused into new fashions are among the concepts that will be promoted during the annual Earth Week celebration April 18-22, 2016, at The University of Texas at El Paso.

The “Your Trash Our Art” event will showcase examples of art from recycled materials and give people an opportunity to create their own works of art from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, April 19, in the Union Plaza. Some examples are “upcycling” old T-shirts, and weaving  magazines, newspapers and plastic bags to create picture frames, vases, jewelry and baskets.

The 3R’s Fashion Show (Rethink, Recreate, Rediscover) will take place from noon to 1 p.m. the same day at the same location.

Other activities meant to raise awareness among UTEP’s faculty, staff and students about a “green” lifestyle include:

  • Registered Student Organizations will promote “green” awareness from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 20, around Centennial Plaza. It will include a yoga demonstration at 10:30 a.m. in which faculty, staff and students are encouraged to participate. Mats will be provided.
  • University offices and community partners will share what they do during a Sustainability Symposium from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.Thursday, April 21, at the Union Plaza. The University’s Center for Environmental Resource Management will present some of the studies UTEP departments have conducted related to sustainability.
  • Join UTEP personnel to relax, build camaraderie and exercise your green thumbs at a Planting Party from 9 a.m. to noon Friday, April 22 (Earth Day) at Leech Grove at the corner of University Avenue and Wiggins Road. Organizers will have 3,000 small plants that need a new home.

The theme of this year’s Earth Day nationally is “Trees for the Earth: Let’s Get Planting,” with a goal of planting 7.8 billion trees in the next five years to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2021.

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