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2016 Earth Days Honored at Valley Schools

Here is an article that appeared in the Valley Courier on May 17:


Earth Days Honored at Valley Schools


Unpredictable springtime weather and busy schedules did not prevent schools and students from honoring Earth Days this year, although times and activities varied.  Centauri Middle School held its Earth Day event last Friday featuring presentations by the Forest Service, community projects, and the Conejos Clean Water (CCW) and the San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council (SLVEC) nonprofits.  These organizations conduct waste management programs and are providing education to students and the public about proper waste disposal and recycling to reduce waste buildups.

Kristina Crowder, Project Coordinator for the Ecosystem Council, noted that Centauri students and staff were delighted to recognize their peers in a brochure detailing last year’s illegal dump cleanups in Conejos County, a joint effort by the Council and CCW.  “We ran out of these fast,” said Crowder, “and I’m glad these clean-ups had such a positive impact on the students.”


In addition to recreational and wildlife opportunities offered by public lands, Forest Service staffers Andrea Jones and Daniel Lopez reviewed job opportunities for students interested in pursuing careers with the agency.  Other presentations at Centauri’s school gym were rounded out by Abe Rosenburg representing the Valleybound Antonito School and Community Garden, and Maury Grimm with Nature’s Table on foraging edible wild plants.


Principal Tyler Huffaker and CCW Coordinator Anna Lee Vargas organized Centauri’s Earth Day, involving over 100 students.  Vargas, herself a graduate of Centauri, noted “it was great being back at my old middle school and to help educate on these problems.”


Centauri’s event added to a series of presentations to Valley schools, including some in April with the Center School District for their annual service days cleaning up trash around the town’s community park and canal, and Ortega Middle School in Alamosa, addressing waste management and recycling. All told, about 300 middle school students in these various events received the Earth Day message or participated in some way to help out.


Following a successful program startup in Conejos and Costilla counties, a second waste management grant from USDA is making it possible to extend services to Alamosa and Saguache counties.  A clean-up is being planned for one of Alamosa’s worst dump sites, and the potential for transfer stations is also under review.


Serving the north end of the Valley, the extended program also addresses Saguache County’s landfill operation which has been costly to operate.   Engineering assistance to the program is being provided by Eric Toledo of Rural Community Assistance Corporation.


Also noted was the Ecosystem Council’s participation in Adam State’s annual Earth Fest, including the river clean-up covered in an earlier Courier article.