A Hugely Successful Earth Day Celebration

by Sue Ann Kendall

I’m interested in nature, too.

The 2019 Earth Day Celebration is in the books! It was a great success, too! Over 70 people and two dogs visited the Community Room on Main Street in Rockdale to see the El Camino Real Master Naturalists and their exhibits. We were joined by local Girl Scouts of Central Texas troops and the Little River Basin Master Gardeners, too. (It helps that many of our members are also Master Gardeners.)

Rosie Johnson did a great job decorating the outside of the Community Room in Rockdale.

Many thanks go out to Donna Lewis and the rest of the Earth Day Committee, who put in a lot of effort and planning to make this event successful. There were so many details, but they were all handled very well!

Donna Lewis takes a break to talk to Catherine Johnson during setup.

And of course, we truly appreciated all the chapter members who took time out of their holiday weekend to join us and talk to the guests about the importance of taking care of our planet.

Pamela Neeley grabs a new rain gauge from the Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District’s contributions.

On the radio

Milissa Davis interviews Aloma Clayton about the Master Gardeners’ participation in the event. Sue Ann is reflected in the window.

As we were setting up, we were joined by Milissa Davis of the Master Gardener program, who interviewed four of the program’s participants for this week’s installment of the Master Gardener Radio Show on KRXT, the local Rockdale station. In addition to myself and Donna Lewis, they also talked to Aloma Clayton of the Master Gardners, and a Girl Scouts representative (apologies for not getting her name). I enjoyed talking to all the listeners, and I know there was at least one, because a man showed up and asked to see all the people who were on the radio!

At the event

Scott Berger took care of the table with beautiful posters. He pre-rolled up lots of them for easy giving.

When I last checked the attendance table, there were more than 20 of us in attendance, so I’m not going to name everyone (I know Donna’s report will!). Instead, I’d like to share a few highlights of our booths and the participants interacting with our chapter members.

Kathy Lester did a great job with all these seedlings. There were also emty shells that people could plant their own seeds in.

We were glad to see nearly all of the seedlings planted in eggshells that our members had sprouted were taken away by happy attendees. We also had some loblolly pines from Bastrop seedlings that were given away. One man in attendance had lived there and was very happy to have a tree to remember the area and its recovery from the devastating wildfires it’s undergoing. We had information from Treefolks at the table I staffed, which would help with planting the pines.

The spin art fascinated both children and adults.

We had more children in attendance than last year, which made us happy. They enjoyed the spin art using recycled boxes that the Girl Scounts shared, as well as the recycled calendars and magazine photos that Joyce Conner shared and showed how to create (PS: I really enjoyed meeting Mike and Joyce’s sons, who drove up to join us).

Joyce Conner and Kim Summers ready to hand out paper butterflies and boxes. What a great example of re-using old but beautiful materials.

An example of making a difference

My exhibit on the dangers of balloons and plastic bags for our wildlife and domestic livestock was also popular with children, no doubt because it had pictures of poop in it. I know I made a difference to our planet, because I managed to convince someone to not hold a balloon release today while I shared information on the radio, and I inspired a young man who’d dropped by while geocaching with his dad to pick up a plastic bag outside the building somewhere and run back in to put it in the trash receptacle, declaring that he didn’t want a cow to die!

Sue Ann using photos of pooped out plastic bags to encourage people to use recyclable grocery bags and to avoid releasing balloons into the air. She also gave out a lot of rain gauges, notebooks, and tree information.

I had many great conversations with attendees, and even helped the Master Gardeners with a man’s questions about citrus trees. I could see those kinds of conversations going on all over the room. People didn’t just walk through, they stayed to talk and learn.

Attendees intently listening to Larry Kocian talk about pollinators, as Wesley Sweet and one of the other Master Gardeners listen in.

What else went on?

Phyllis Shuffield is ready to help thirsty Earth Day visitors get a drink, or hungry visitors get a cookie.

The refreshments were very popular (and delicious), so thanks to all who contributed. Also crowd favorites were the t-shirt totes that we made. Each of them came with instructions for making your own totes, lovingly stuffed by Jackie Fields, so we hope to see them on the arms of many Milam County residents soon.

T-shirt totes hanging on a creative display just full of ideas for using them.

Here are some more photos of the exhibits and people interacting with attendees. Click on any image to see it full size.

Captions for the image gallery, top to bottom:

  • Lisa Milewski shows off the materials in the Take Care of Texas exhibit, which had great information for young and old
  • One of the Girl Scout representatives and her beautiful smile
  • Larry Kocian with the pollinator exhibitt
  • Donna Lewis and Kim Summers with our Master Naturalist exhibit
  • Aloma Clayton shows off the composting and vermiculture information at the Master Gardener table
  • Mike Conners with his amazing collection of recycling information
  • Another picture of the egg shell seedlings
  • The re-use table
  • Catherine Johnson shows off information on hard- to-recycle items like batteries, oil, and grease
  • Liz Lewis wearing one of the Rockdale Earth Day shirts that were for sale
  • Rosie Johnson with her table that showed eco-friendly alternatives and the loblolly pines that were distributed
  • The sign outside of the Community Building
  • Visitors enjoying the exhibits
  • Mike Conners talks to Jackie Fields about recylable plastics
  • Cathy talks to a visitor
  • More visitors having fun
  • Linda Jo Conn and Ann Collins all excited about taking attendance statistics
  • Jackie Thornton at the attendance and t-shirt table (photo by Sheri Sweet)
  • Larry Kocian shakes hands with an appreciative attendee at left, while Sue Ann Kendall talks to a man about balloons at right (photo by Sheri Sweet)

If you have photos to contribute, please let me (Sue Ann) know. As hard as I tried, I know I didn’t get photos of everyone!

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