By Mr. Matt Decker (Leonard Wood)April 27, 2017
Fort Leonard Wood will hold its second annual Earth Day Fair and Celebration from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 5 at Nutter Field House. The free event, which is open to the public, is presented by the post's Public Affairs Office in conjunction with the Directorate of Public Works and the Environmental Branch.
"Our objective is to provide environmental education and advocacy to the Fort Leonard Wood community," said Andrea Smith, who, along with fellow Public Affairs specialist and self-described "co-conspirator" Ryan Thompson, is coordinating the event.
Following the success of last year's inaugural fair, this year's celebration promises visitors even more fun combined with a renewed focus on learning, according to Thompson. The theme of this year's event is "Environmental Education and Advocacy: A Hope for the Future."
"This year, we really wanted to focus more on the educational aspect of the event -- teaching more about sustainability," Thompson said. "Last year, we had a lot more giveaways and games, and made it kind of a fun fair. This year, we really wanted to focus on the educational part. A lot of what DPW Environmental did last year, they're going to supplement with more of an educational base and create more of a learning atmosphere."
There will still be plenty of fun, with dozens of activities, displays, games and more offered by agencies both on post and from outside the gate -- including a visit by some special feathered friends.
"One of the things we want to highlight is the Raptor Rehab Project," Smith said, adding that the project is part of the University of Missouri Extension program. "They are going to bring in some birds of prey. We don't know which species they will bring yet, but we're looking forward to their visit."
Some of the popular activities at last year's event will be back this year, Thompson said, including the Environmental Branch's indoor fishing game and the "Stormwater Wheel of Fun," which gives attendees a chance to win prizes based on their knowledge of stormwater management.
Visitors can learn about Missouri and its geology from several sources, including a demonstration by officials from Onondaga Cave State Park.
"They'll be talking about cave ecology, as well as what you can do at the state park," Thompson said.
Another returning activity is designed to promote the planting of new trees with a giveaway of redbud seedlings.
"That worked out well last year, but this year will be even better, because the Licking Nursery, which provided the red buds last year, will be here," Thompson said. "They're going to not only hand out the red buds but also have some information on the care of the red buds. So, folks won't just receive a bare-root stem this time."
Outside Nutter Field House, visitors can take advantage of a Household E-Cycling station.
"The Fort Leonard Wood community can dispose of old computers, batteries, used electronics and things like that," Smith said. "It's free of charge."
Other participants and activities include:
-- A groundwater display by the U.S. Geological Survey;
-- The Missouri Department of Conservation;
-- Fort Leonard Wood Game Wardens;
-- The Mark Twain National Forest;
-- Presentations on bats and other wildlife;
-- A presentation on herb planting;
-- Missouri's cultural resources;
-- Area meteorologists with talks about weather;
-- Demonstrations with live animals, including spiders, snakes and more.
Some special guests will be on hand for younger visitors, led by the event's unofficial mascot and promoter, Clean Water Casey.
"Smokey Bear will be back for the kids, and we'll have some other critters there, as well, such as Sparky the Firedog and McGruff the Crime Dog," Thompson said.
The biggest share of the celebration's audience is elementary students, with hundreds expected to attend throughout the day. Still, Thompson noted that the event is open to everyone.
"The event is open to the public, so grab your kids, if you're off, bring them in and enjoy learning about the environment and the important role it plays in all our lives."