FORT DRUM, N.Y. (April 25, 2018) -- It is customary to celebrate a special occasion with cake, and the Fort Drum Environmental Division had four to commemorate Earth Day this year.

Teams of creative culinary specialists representing all four dining facilities participated in an Earth Day Cake Bake-Off. The team from 2nd Brigade Combat Team's Commando Café - Staff Sgt. Cynthia I. Hicks, Staff Sgt. Norma Roberts, Spc. Natalia Diaz-Henao and Pvt. Alyssa K. Sealey - was named the winner April 24 during an awards presentation.

Hicks said that the 2nd BCT's winning cake was inspired by the Disney film "Moana" where Mother Nature is represented by the character Te Fiti. The culinarians designed a giant Te Fiti cradling the planet in her hands, and decorated with flowers and roses to demonstrate Earth's beauty.

"We feel one of the biggest challenge was sculpting her face," Hicks said. "Staff Sgt. Roberts used Rice Krispy treats for the shape of the face then covered it with fondant to mold the facial features. The other challenge was keeping her hand standing in place, and keep it from tipping over with the weight of the world."

Jim Miller, Environmental Division chief, said that he was impressed with the teams' contributions and thanked them for their efforts in this inaugural event.

"Everyone did such a great job we're thinking of making this an annual event," he said. "I sensed a lot of competition between the dining facilities out there, and now you know how high the bar has been set."

Environmental Awards

The Environmental Division recently received accolades of their own, earning two second place nods in the 2018 Secretary of the Army Environmental Awards in the categories of Environmental Quality - Non-Industrial Installation and Environmental Restoration - Team/Individual. The program recognizes excellence in development, management and transferability of environmental programs that increase environmental quality, enhance the mission and support Army sustainability.

"I think it is very important to the 10th Mountain Division (LI) as they train and conduct military operations that we are recognized within the community as a good environmental steward," Miller said.

Miller said that many people recognize the excellent work conducted by Natural Resources and Cultural Resources personnel from the Environmental Division, as they are more visible in the community with programs like the Fort Drum History Tours and Maple Days. However, this award acknowledges some of the achievements from other branches of the Environmental Division, such as Environmental Compliance.

"The one award recognizes restoration efforts - that is the cleanup of contaminated sites, which is the legacy of every military installation, not just Fort Drum," Miller said. "So, it's a big honor to be acknowledged in how well we are doing in that aspect. The other award recognizes environmental quality, which is all the compliance that we do - emission control laws, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act - and the day-to-day management of hazardous waste and solid waste."

The nomination packet highlights how Environmental Division personnel are using green technologies that will enhance remediation efforts on post while creating significant cost savings. The Environmental Compliance Branch has prioritized streamlining inefficient business process while finding creative ways to surpass environmental standards.

"Our programs just keep getting better and better, and it's a great source of pride for me that our environmental program as a whole gets recognized as it is maturing," Miller said.

Embracing message of Earth Day

The U.S. Army has participated in Earth Day since it was first observed in 1970. Anthony Reali, Solid Waste program manager, said that it is a good reminder for everyone to practice good environmental stewardship.

"Earth Day is a time when everyone can do their part to clean the environment," he said. "Be aware of your surroundings all the time, and when you see a mess, take some time to clean it. I think Earth Day should be every day, really."

With winter weather finally dissipating in the North Country, Fort Drum community members are doing more spring cleaning and yardwork projects. Environmental Division personnel remind them to practice good recycling habits. To learn more, visit http://www.fortdrumrecycles.com/.