ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Community members and local students attended Aberdeen Proving Ground's annual Arbor/Earth Day celebration at the APG North (Aberdeen) youth center April 26.The event highlighted the installation's stewardship to the environment in support of the principles of Arbor Day and Earth Day.Narrator Celestine Beckett said that Arbor Day is observed across the nation to encourage the planting of trees, shrubs and flowers."Plants not only make the environment beautiful, they help to clean the air, soil and water," she said.The event's guest speaker, APG Garrison Commander Col. Gregory McClinton, said that APG organizations work hard to preserve APG's 72,000 acres of land and water. "Supporting our current mission requirements while at the same time managing natural resources that must sustain us into the future is a very delicate balance, but we strive hard to make it work," McClinton said. "There are a lot of people working at APG tirelessly to strike that balance."McClinton commended the environmental engineers and scientists that work on APG, noting that APG recently won the Environmental Restoration Installation award in the Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards Program competition."This is especially meaningful for APG team members who have worked hard for decades to mitigate the effects of past practices," he said.McClinton welcomed the students in the audience, including the Aberdeen Middle School Band, which opened the event with the national anthem."I hope this event inspires the next generation of scientist and engineers," he said.Wayne Merkel from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources presented the 2012 National Arbor Day Foundation and U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service Tree City U.S.A award, the eighth consecutive year the installation has received the award. Merkel said that in 2012, more than 1,000 trees were planted at APG."Trees are the solution to water and air pollution," Merkel said. "One large tree can produce enough oxygen to support two people annually."Merkel also presented the 2012 Tree City Growth Award to McClinton, Scott English and John Wrobel, from the Garrison Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division, for environmental improvements that have been made on post. This is the sixth consecutive year APG has received the award.Dan Davis, chairman of the Maryland Urban Community Forestry Program, presented the People Loving and Nurturing Trees (PLANT) award to McClinton, English and Wroble. This award is given to communities that actively plant and conserve trees.Winners of the annual APG Arbor/Earth Day poster contest also received awards. Students from Harford and Cecil County schools and APG Child and Youth Services participated in the contest. This year's theme was, "Trees… The Anchors of Earth." The event also featured hands-on science demonstrations from APG and community organizations. About 500 students from local schools participated in the indoor and outdoor activities which included an eagle station, an interactive video on the field work conducted as part of the APG Bald Eagle Management Plan. Another popular attraction was a fish tank that displayed native fish and underwater grass that grows in the waters of APG. Children learned about how APG employees monitor water quality to maintain the health of the Chesapeake Bay.The APG STEM Group, comprised of ARL, CERDEC, ECBC and RDECOM scientists and engineers led a variety of activities for students. ECBC employees ran a water filtration session for students, and talked to the students about how water in lakes and rivers around the world often need to be filtered in order to be safe to drink. CERDEC employees led students in an activity that demonstrated how non-biodegradable items can be reused and repurposed. ARL employees discussed oil contamination in the environment, photosynthesis, environmental snap circuits and helped students make ultra violet bracelets. RDECOM employees discussed the Army Education Outreach opportunities and gave backpacks to attendees. In addition, CERDEC's Renewable Energy for Distributed Under-Supplied Command Environments, or REDUCE, mobile trailer with its large solar panels and wind turbines, provided power to the APG Fire Department's fire safety demonstration trailer. The REDUCE mobile trailer can provide electrical power with combinations of rigid solar panels and fueled generators. Other activities included a law enforcement working dog demonstration, recycling crafts and games. Scales & Tales, hosted by the Maryland Park Service, gave attendees an up close view of a Turkey Vulture a Great Horned Owl and other wildlife. Maryland Master Gardeners from the University of Maryland program were also on hand to talk to attendees about eco-friendly gardening practices."This event was made possible because of the partnership that we have between local organizations," said APG Environmental Protection Specialist Kathy Thisse, who helped organize the event. "We are trying to bring awareness to the students; hopefully they will see the importance of protecting the environment and will make (eco-friendly practices) an actual part of their lives. We are also showing the students that the Army is taking proactive steps to protect the environment."APG Arbor/Earth Day Poster Contest WinnersPre-K-2nd Grade: 1st Place-Samantha Fung, Child and Youth Services, 2nd Place- Gianna Dawson, Child and Youth Services; 3rd Place-Solika Phann, Child and Youth Services 3rd Grade-5th Grade: 1st Place-Emily Maria Day, North East Elementary, 2nd Place -Joe Holland, North East Elementary, 3rd Place- Selah Hall, North East Elementary 9th Grade-12th Grade: 1st Place-Reily Flores, Perryville High School; 2nd Place-Leah Skinner, Perryville High School; 3rd Place-Danielle Gore, Perryville High School