Earth Day

For the past four years I have helped organize an Earth Day event at Gateway Technical College where I teach horticulture.  The event was held this past Sat April 24. What began as a few horticulture students and their kids cleaning up some flower beds and cooking hot dogs has morphed into a big-time community event.  I haven’t heard how many people attended yet but I’m thinking probably 700 –  1,000. Of course the horticulture dept and greenhouses  are a big part of the day and I begin planning for Earth Day months in advance.    This year I assigned poster board displays to students and they came out really great.  Much better than past years probably because I gave them something to read on how to make effective ones.  One student pointed out how easy it would be for this project to become an artsy collage and not an informative professional appearing poster.  Below is a picture of student Laura Bobula with her ‘Tree Poster’ which shows the different types of trees we gave away – red and white oaks and Japanese tree lilacs.  She also created some beautiful fliers about how to plant and care for these species that you can see on the table in front of her.

So I was very pleased with my student’s work and proud to see such professional looking pieces on display Saturday.  Andrew Wawiorka created a beautiful poster about butterfly gardening, Geroge Snaminski’s topic was ‘Common Insect Pests’.  He also had binders of detailed information for each pest.  I saw a lot of people reading the information and some even taking notes!  ‘Nontoxic Lawn Care’ was presented by Zach Pearson.  Josh Bernardy and Ryan Stitch drew lots of visitors with questions to their display on ‘Living Walls’. Denise DeKeuster may even obtain a job with Steins Gardens and Gifts because her poster board on ‘Vermicomposting’ was so excellent and really showcased her computer graphic skills.  I spoke with Steins about her and she will apply for a corporate type position in the next few weeks. 

I was also really thankful for all the student’s help in setting up the day before – pricing plants, creating displays, planting and cleaning up.  I know they were there for extra credit but I really only expected four hours out of them and they ended up staying and helping the entire day! 

Our ‘Creative Container’ contest was fun and the contestants such great sports.  My student Sarah Krause was such a wonderful organizer and took care of so many details.  I only wish we had gotten more money for them from the silent auction.  I think they only sold for $40-50 each.  Below is a picture of Gale Borger the Grand Prize Winner with her creation and $100 gift certificate.  She is a fun lady and a great new gardening comrade!

So thinking of all the students I got to know, and appreciate, just a little but more was probably the highlight of the event. It is also fun to meet their families.  I met husbands and wives, moms and dads, sisters and brothers, kids and one grandma.  I love seeing families together and having fun at this event!  Several people told me how great they thought the event was and how much they enjoyed it.

Our plant sale went well considering the weather was cold and drizzly.  We still have a lot of plants to sell so have decided to have another sale May 14 and 15.  We sold lots of plants this day but the greenhouse benches are still too full!  Mothers day weekend should be a great sales weekend!

My best friend since 6th grade, Sherri Pratt, sent me a ‘Happy Earth Day’ email and before I even read it a big smile came to my face.  Sherri and I celebrated the very first Earth Day together in 1970!  We were 8th graders at Eculid Junior High School in Littleton, Colorado.  We had joined the ‘Environmental Club’ lead by our favorite counselor Mr Vonausten earlier that year. For earth day Sherri and I and other club members planted Green Ash tree seedlings around the Euclid campus.  Sherri reminded me of how we also cleared a big field behind the 7-Eeleven of cans to turn in for recycling.  We collected bags and bags of cans to turn in for cash only to discover they weren’t the right kind after all.  I think we half filled my parents garage with bags of cans. Our dreams of big money dashed but a funny memory with my best friend priceless!

So here’s to Earth Day!  Lets celebrate Mother Earth and the coming of spring.  Get out with the family and get back to nature.  Its time to start planting, dig your hands deep in rich, black soil.  Plant a tree or some spinach or a flower to feed the soul.  Feel the sun on your back, breath the sweet scent of mowed grass. Another season of loveliness and life ahead on this beautiful, blue ball we call planet Earth!

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