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ADEQ, students celebrate Earth Week | Environment

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ADEQ, students celebrate Earth Week
Environment, Schools
ADEQ, students celebrate Earth Week

Once again, the annual Earth Week observance at the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) will actually stretch over two full weeks this year in order to accommodate several large groups of visiting students from five different Arkansas schools. In addition, a presentation for grown-ups about green building construction is scheduled, and the observance will conclude with the annual presentation of the Arkansas Environmental Stewardship Award (ENVY Award), recognizing the efforts of an individual or organization to protect and enhance the state’s natural resources.

Approximately 350 students--mostly third and fourth graders--will visit the ADEQ Headquarters Building at 5301 Northshore Drive in North Little Rock April 15 and 16, and again April 22 and 23. The students will come from Washington Magnet Elementary in Little Rock; West Visual and Performing Arts Magnet School in Batesville; Pulaski County Special School District’s Crystal Hill Elementary Magnet School in North Little Rock; gifted and talented program students from several schools in Cabot; and the Agape Academy in Little Rock. The number of participating students will range from roughly 50 to 125 each day.

ADEQ employees will conduct a variety of interactive presentations for the students, beginning between 9 and 10 a.m. each day. The students also have the option of bringing their own lunches to eat at the patio area of the ADEQ offices, and--weather permitting--hiking on the Arkansas River Trail, a portion of which is adjacent to the building.

The students will be divided into groups and will rotate among several presentation stations, as well as receiving a tour of the ADEQ’s building, which has received certifications from two different green building organizations for its environmentally-friendly design, construction, and operation. Topics to be covered during the student visits include the difficulties of restoring the environment once it has been damaged; the importance of recycling and preventing littering; how to use organic waste to create a compost pile and produce topsoil; demonstrating the link between land use activities and water quality in a watershed, as shown by the effects of adverse water quality on aquatic organisms; and a tour of the ADEQ laboratories, including demonstrations of the various tests routinely performed by lab personnel.       

In addition to the programs for school children, the ADEQ will offer another in its ongoing series of “Putting Green to Work” lunch meetings at 11:30 a.m. April 25, featuring Linda K. Smith, executive director of the Arkansas Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, which operates the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program and is one of two organizations which issue “green building” certificates for environmental-friendly buildings.  Smith will discuss the impact and performance of the 88 LEED-certified buildings in Arkansas, costs and benefits of a LEED building and future trends in sustainable construction.   She will also discuss the most cost effective renovations for buildings.    

The lunches feature businesses and organizations that have excelled at energy conservation and other sustainable practices. ADEQ, in partnership with Arkansas Manufacturing Solutions, created the Putting Green to Work lunches. The series aims to help industry leaders learn from each other how to save energy, prevent pollution and conserve resources, all while helping their bottom lines. The lunch meeting is open to the public, but seating is limited, and reservations should be made by April 23 by contacting Audree Miller at the ADEQ; 501-682-0015; miller@adeq.state.ar.us.

ADEQ’s Earth Week observance ends with the 2013 ENVY Award presentation at the April 26 meeting of the Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission, which begins at 9 a.m. Five finalists for this year’s award were announced earlier this week to recognize their projects or programs promoting a better Arkansas environment. The finalists are: Beaver Water District; the City of Fayetteville and CH2M HILL Engineers; Goodwill Industries of Arkansas; Pratt and Whitney’s Springdale facility; and the Turner Bend Store in Franklin County.

The ADEQ began an expanded Earth Week observance after moving to its new building in 2007. The first year’s event involved hosting students from just one school on one day. Since then, both the number of schools participating and the number of days involved in the observance have grown. There are no more vacancies available for the 2013 observance.

April 22 is officially designated as Earth Day. The first Earth Day observance was held April 22, 1970, to mark an increased recognition by the federal government for dealing with pollution problems. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was formally established later that year to begin addressing environmental concerns at the national level.

Environment, Schools