By Mr. Jason L Austin (IMCOM)April 29, 2009
HEIDELBERG, Germany -- Take a group of German fifth graders willing to dig in the dirt and a bunch of plants, throw in a huge barbecue and a few soccer balls and you have the Germersheim Army Depot annual Earth Week celebration.
For Celina Krebs, from the Realschule Kandel, the highlight Friday was the opportunity to plant a vegetable garden on the installation.
Krebs listed the vegetables - "peppers, onions, corn, tomatoes, pickles, carrots and radishes."
Other students from her school planted flowers around several installation buildings, and the whole class participated in a tree-planting ceremony, where they planted a decorative cherry tree, and hobnobbed with Col. Robert Ulses and Lt. Col. Robert White, commanders, U.S. Army Garrisons Baden-WAfA1/4rttemberg and Heidelberg, who also threw a little dirt on the tree.
The plantings helped Maurice Stewart, a geography teacher at the school, and former GAD employee, reinforce some of the ideas he teaches his students.
"In geography we teach them to help nature," Stewart said, adding that the event left "a nice impression for the school."
The event was an educational tool for the students, according to Tim Clark, with the USAG Baden-WAfA1/4rttemberg Environmental Division.
"Kids are fun, available for education and will be on the earth for a long time," Clark said. "The lessons we teach them, they can take with them for a whole lifetime. They are part of their environment and can impact the world they live in."
The event was the culminating event for USAG Heidelberg's Earth Week initiative, which included many educational events from paper making and compost awareness at the Heidelberg reuse center to field trips to a local solar park and botanical gardens.
"The Army has been very involved in Earth Day since its 1970 inception," said Maj. Gen. Byron S. Bagby, U.S. Army Europe chief of staff, who spoke at the event, and helped plant a American Oak along with the mayors from Germersheim and Lingenfeld, Ulses, White, and representatives from GAD.
Bagby listed several ongoing environmentally friendly projects at GAD, from installing solar panels, replacing mercury lights, improving buildings for energy conservation, to ongoing efforts with the local government to shelter protected species on the installation.
"It's not just one day, or one week, but ongoing," Bagby said.
(Editor's Note: Jason Austin writes for the USAG Baden-WAfA1/4rttemberg newspaper, the Herald Post.)