FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 2, 2013) -- When it comes to energy conservation and going green, Fort Rucker is no stranger with its Net Zero facilities and recycling programs, but no matter how small, people on the installation are making a difference.

Fort Rucker celebrated Earth Day April 24 with its Earth Day Expo and the planting of trees at the Fort Rucker youth center as a way to give back to the environment and educate people on why conservation is so important, according to Darrell Hager, Directorate of Public Works Environmental Office sustainability program manager.

"We live on a planet with finite resources. The population is going up, resource use is going up, and one of these days we're going to get to the point where what we have and what we use is going to intersect," he said. "We need to get to the point where we start to wisely use what we have."

One way the installation showed people some of those lessons was with the Earth Day Expo where vendors and exhibits were set up to educate people on different ways to go green. From all-electric vehicles to the recycling center, these vendors were on-hand to answer any questions visitors had about energy conservation.

"Some of the exhibitors that we have here are for green products for either the home or office, and they all have something to do with reducing material use and resource conservation," said Hager.

He also gave some advice to those on and off the installation on what people can do to conserve energy either in their homes or at their offices.

"One of the big things is water conservation," said Hager. "Don't turn on your water when brushing your teeth and take a shower instead of a bath. People can save gallons of water by doing just that.

"People should also remember to turn off lights in rooms that they aren't in, but one of the most important things is to make sure that your windows and doors don't leak," he continued. "The biggest loss of air conditioning and heat is through cracks in doors and windows, so people should make sure they are properly sealed."

Another way he suggested people help out the environment is by recycling materials that they use rather than throwing them away.

Melissa Lowlavar, environmental management branch chief, was on-hand to answer questions about the recycling center on Fort Rucker, and what sets it apart from other recycling centers.

"In the past on Fort Rucker, we've recycled paper, cardboard and a few other commodities, but now we're taking glass, which nobody in the local communities will take," she said. "We also take aluminum cans and most plastics," adding that people should separate glass according to color and plastics according to number. The only plastic the recycling center will not accept is No. 6 plastics, which is polystyrene.

Along with expanding what the recycling center accepts in terms of recyclable material, the center also launched its new recycling incentive program during the event.

"With the incentive program, different organizations can sign up with the recycling center and people can either bring their personal recyclable materials or their organization's recyclable materials to be submitted for their specific organization," said Lowlavar. "At the end of every quarter, we will send a voucher equal to a certain poundage or tonnage quantity that can be used at any of the various [Directorate of Morale, Welfare and Recreation Facilities]."

She urged that it's important for people to recycle because of the limited amount of landfill space that is available.

During the Earth Day celebrations, people at the expo weren't the only ones learning about conservation.

Students from the Fort Rucker Elementary School, with the help of Fort Rucker's Environmental and Natural Resource Division, the Wiregrass Sergeant Major Association, Command Sgt. Maj. Buford E. Noland, Fort Rucker garrison command sergeant major, and Justin O. Mitchell, Fort Rucker deputy garrison commander, planted trees behind the Fort Rucker Youth Center to help teach about the importance of renewing our resources.

"It's important to teach our younger generation that we need to protect our renewable resources by planting trees and taking care of the Earth because it's our home," said Noland.

The children helped by digging holes, putting the trees in the holes, covering them with soil, putting pine straw on top of the soil, then watering the trees -- an experience that some said made a world of difference.

"One tree can make a difference for two other people," said Marcus Hanks, FRES student, when asked about the importance of conservation. "I learned that one tree gives enough oxygen for two other people, and without that tree there, there just won't be enough oxygen for everyone."

Baily Noland, FRES student, agreed and said her favorite part was making a difference.

"I really enjoyed planting the trees and making a difference because it's so fun to have that experience," she said. "Most kids don't get that experience because they don't have a home and they don't have a Family."