Earth Day Fair Educates Students

Senior Guy Kilpatrich rides the power generating bicycle at the Earth Day Fair. (Photo by Rowan Copley)
Senior Guy Kilpatric rides the power generating bicycle at the Earth Day Fair. (Photo by Rowan Copley)

Despite the overcast and sporadically rainy weather, students gathered last week to celebrate their home, Earth. The Earth Day Fair, sponsored by the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC), the Sustainability Committee, EcoHouse, and the St. Mary’s River Project, sought to teach passersby how to live in a sustainable manner and ways to promote environmental change.

Using the lure of a bike powered music generator and pinecones on strings, the Earth Day Fair brought students to tables set up under the balcony of the campus center this past Wednesday. EcoHouse had a table set up with tips for waste reduction, how to save energy and water, and what products and companies are good or bad for the environment.

As she handed out tips for sustainable living, sophomore Laura Sipe said, “We’re just trying to get people to do things we do every day at EcoHouse.”

There were also several run by SEAC members. One table had letter writing materials for writing to Congressman Steny Hoyer. The letters were to ask Hoyer, the representative of Maryland’s fifth Congressional district and House Majority Leader, to pass the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.

This bill proposes support for clean and renewable energy, more efficient energy use, a limit on emissions of heat-trapping pollutants, and promotion of green jobs and a clean energy economy. Students were encouraged to write to Hoyer to pass this legislation and to express the importance of the bill to them.

Students had a range of styles for their letters, from pasted magazine cutouts to a traditional handwritten letter, but they all expressed similar messages. While writing his letter, sophomore Jimmy O’Keefe said, “I want this to pass, and I think it’s time for something new in America.”

Several members from SEAC also traveled down to Washington D.C. on Thursday and Friday for the Congressional hearings on the American Clean Energy and Security Act. Students from St. Mary’s and other schools around the country convened in D.C. to show their support for the bill and talked to members of Congress to lobby them to vote for the bill.

Back at the Earth Day Fair, students could make birdfeeders out of pinecones smeared with peanut butter and rolled in birdseed. The pinecones were attached to strings so students could hang them from trees and enjoy the beauty of nature.

Next to pinecones was the generator run on bike power and hooked up to speakers so that an iPod could play music. The bike-generator contraption was fashioned by seniors Guy Kilpatric and Yang-Yi Chen and junior Paul Parzynski.

Sophomore Danny Ruthenberg-Marshall, who helped organize the Earth Day Fair, was taking pictures for a photo petition organized by the Energy Action Coalition. Photos showing student support of environmental action and awareness were taken to be sent to Congressional members.

The St. Mary’s River Project, an organization that teaches environmental awareness to children in the College community, was also represented at the Earth Day Fair, spreading it’s message of education and action.

Earth Day is celebrated in the U.S. every year on April 22. It was started in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in. It is a day dedicated to education and appreciation of the environment and to raise awareness about environmental issues.

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