by Andrea Sutherland
Last week Soldiers and Family members celebrated Earth Day by picking up trash, decorating recyclable grocery bags and planting trees. Events concluded Saturday as 15 volunteers cleaned parts of the B-Street ditch despite the cold, rainy weather.
“This is passionate to me,” said Jodi Schultz, the wife of a Fort Carson Soldier. “It’s fun and it gets you outdoors.”
“We recognize that with the high winds that we have to take care of the trash,” said Hal Alguire, director of Public Works. “If we improve the look of (the) post, people will want to keep it clean.”
Kindergarten and first graders from Fort Carson elementary schools celebrated Earth Day by picking up trash around their schools and reading “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss.
“I like working with kids,” said Francis Calar, volunteer reader and an inspector for environmental compliance assessment team with the Directorate of Public Works. For the last seven years Calar has been reading to children about the Humming-Fish, Brown Bar-ba-loots and the Onceler, who chopped down all the Truffula Trees, much to the Lorax’s dismay.
“I’m a fisherman and I love the outdoors,” Calar said. “Living here in the mountains, anything I can do to teach the next generation about the environment and sustainability is worth my time to make sure future generations can continue to enjoy this world.”
Cari Carter’s all-day kindergarten class at Abrams Elementary School braved 43 mph winds to collect trash around its school.
“If you don’t clean up on Earth Day, all the trash will get everywhere,” one student said.
Barbara Tillman’s sixth grade science class at Carson Middle School joined Col. John D. Keenan, deputy garrison commander, to plant serviceberry trees.
“Tree planting helps with our sustainability and erosion,” Keenan said. “(It) also helps beautify our community and will eventually help with cooling.”
“Since 2008, we’ve planted over 2,500 trees (on Fort Carson),” said Installation Arborist Dan Gray.
The Mountain Post has been participating in Earth Day activities for 23 years and the programs have only grown stronger with Earth Day education fairs, reading programs and the organized cleanup, said Janine Hegeman, Earth Day coordinator at Fort Carson.
“The environment has a wonderful ability to heal itself and clean up after the messes we make, but it is, in many cases, being pushed too far,” Hegeman said. “Earth Day reminds us to tread more gently on the planet and it’s a day set aside to practice good environmental stewardship and taking care of the environment. Hopefully, kids and adults will start to make this a habit.”
This year’s Earth Day celebration was especially poignant as Fort Carson was one of two installations identified for an Army Net Zero pilot program that will eliminate all waste and produce as much energy on site as it uses by 2020.
Hegeman said Soldiers and Family members don’t have to wait to get involved. She encourages everyone to turn off lights and faucets when not in use, to carpool and buy items in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging being thrown out.
“We have a great recycling program on post. Units can now receive a check every quarter for turning in recyclables and
El Paso County has free household hazardous waste drop-off facilities and electronics recycling,” she said, adding that residents living on post can sign up for the free single-stream recycling program with Balfour Beatty Communities. “Because really, every day is Earth day.”