Make every day Earth Day

By Christine Luciano, DPW EnvironmentalApril 25, 2024

An outdoor path lined with flowers and trees native to Texas.
Within the Pollinator Sanctuary's two-acre footprint is a meditation area and educational signage with helpful steps for nature meditation. (Photo Credit: Christine Luciano, DPW Environmental) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT CAVAZOS, Texas — While many cities observed Earth Day on Monday, Fort Cavazos Recycle and the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division takes it a step further by celebrating Sustainable Environment Month throughout April.

At on- and off-post school and community events, Fort Cavazos Recycle and DPW is encouraging Soldiers and families to rethink their daily routine and take the challenge to reduce waste, reuse items and recycle more, all while cultivating connections with the community and environment.

“Our recycle and environmental teams are committed to helping our community lead the way to a greener future,” said Timi Dutchuk, chief of environmental programs, DPW. “We leverage opportunities through training, education and outreach to enhance environmental awareness and community involvement, while promoting long-term sustainability.”

The installation’s environmental programs, recycle services, pollinator sanctuary and citizen science opportunities offer youth, Soldiers and Central Texans resources throughout the year to make their everyday actions count.

Fort Cavazos Recycle

When Soldiers, families and the community do their part to recycle right and place acceptable items into the blue curbside containers or blue dumpsters, they might not realize the domino effect of their actions. Fort Cavazos Recycle is not only diverting acceptable items like paper, plastics #1-2, cardboard and metal cans from the installation’s landfill, but also supporting jobs and Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation community events.

Kandice Hines, qualified recycling program manager at Fort Cavazos, shared some uncommon miscellaneous items like scrap metal, household appliances, civilian clothing and shoes, lead-acid batteries, tires with rims, cooking oil, unbroken pallets and empty fuel and water cans can be recycled at their facility off 72nd Street and Railhead Road.

“When everyone does their part to recycle right and recycle more, it helps pay dividends back to the environment community,” Hines said. “While we have equipment to help move and separate material, keep in mind, every time it is hand-sorted by our team. Help us continue to be successful with a few simple steps — keep your recyclables unbagged and loose; make sure it’s clean, empty and dry; stop wishcycling; and break down cardboard.”

As a result, this fiscal year, Fort Cavazos Recycle will donate more than $363,000 to DFMWR to sponsor community events like the upcoming fireworks and entertainment for Freedom Fest, Single Soldiers Fest, Oktoberfest and Nature in Lights. Additional services offered include the cardboard exchange program, which allows individuals to pick up boxes and packing paper for free on a first-come, first-used basis, and also motor pool roll-off services for military units doing a purge or cleanup event within their footprint.

Two people sort through recycled items on a conveyor belt.
Marlene Livingston and Robert Mahoney, material handler and sorters for Fort Cavazos Recycle, sort and separate different types of plastic. (Photo Credit: Christine Luciano, DPW Environmental) VIEW ORIGINAL

Classification Unit

For household hazardous waste commonly found in the garage, shed and underneath the sink along with residential electronic waste, the Classification Unit offers a free year-round service for Department of Defense personnel and their family members, over the age of 18, to safely dispose of items.

Residential electronic waste items eligible for turn in include phones, game systems, flat screen televisions, computers without hard drives and other electronics.

Some leftover or used household products contain chemicals that can present safety concerns if not managed properly, like unwanted paints, detergents and cleaners, pesticides and herbicides, non-vehicle batteries, aerosol cans, oil and filters. The collection center’s easy and free service also diverts household hazardous waste from ending up in the installation’s landfill, and unused leftovers are placed into an onsite storage facility ready for free issue to others who may need them.

“The Classification Unit is a unique service we offer to the Fort Cavazos community,” said Tanicha Avila, solid waste program manager, DPW. “Unlike neighboring communities who host a household hazardous waste turn-in event once or maybe twice a year, our facility offers a free year-round service. Before you PCS (permanent change of station) or think to throw something out, consider bringing it to our facility where it can be recycled or reused to benefit another Soldier or family.”

The collection center is located on 37th Street and Ivy Division Road and is open 8-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m., Monday-Thursday.

Pollinator Sanctuary

Right off Rod and Gun Club Loop is an oasis of native plants at the Bird, Bee, Butterfly and Bat Garden. Directly behind the garden is the Pollinator Sanctuary surrounded by a native prairie. The two-acre footprint encompasses a demonstration grassland, pollinator garden, meditation area, greenhouse and walking trail with educational signage.

“The outdoor green space provides visitors a sense of unity with nature, enriches their mental well-being and promotes a shared commitment to gardening and sustainable practices,” Dr. Amber Dankert, program manager for wildlife management, DPW, said. “When you face a challenging life experience, consider taking a moment to break away and connect with nature. It is powerful for building resilience.”

Year-round, the community can access the garden and sanctuary for self-guided tours, which showcases native plants along with their landscape value, benefits to wildlife and climate hardiness. Thes plants include firewheel, purple coneflower, flame acanthus, Gregg sage, Hill Country penstemon and Texas bluebonnets.

Citizen science

The Adaptive and Integrative Management Team hosts citizen outreach opportunities in the fall and winter for Soldiers and families to explore the Fort Cavazos landscape while helping biologists capture, tag and release monarchs and count birds.

“Citizen science offers many benefits not only in our scientific endeavors, but helps us to connect with the community,” Dankert said. “Our goal is to inspire individuals to make an impact and contribute to data and research, while also providing an outlet for Soldiers and families to explore and try something new.”

Annually, between October and November, a monarch tagging outreach event is hosted to provide citizen scientists a unique experience to chase after monarchs across a training area, with nets in hand, and help record the tag code, tag date, gender of the butterfly and geographic location. Then, they place a tiny sticker on the hind wing before releasing the butterflies. Then, annually, in December, at the Christmas Bird Count outreach event, novice-to-expert birders have another opportunity to contribute to the Audubon’s community science project and help record every individual bird they see or hear all day. To learn about volunteer opportunities with Fort Cavazos biologists, like and follow

Make every day Earth Day by paying it forward and incorporating green practices into a daily routine. People can do their part by setting the example, getting involved in the community and helping educate everyone – from children to Soldiers and leaders. For more information, call Fort Cavazos Recycle at 254-287-2336 or visit