Earth Day celebrated at WVU-Parkersburg

PARKERSBURG – Reminding people of the importance of keeping the environment clean, recycling materials people use every day and showing things people can do themselves to help the planet was the focus of the Earth Day celebration Wednesday at West Virginia University at Parkersburg.

Students and the public were free to visit a number of informational booths set up in the college’s Activities Center. The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, West Virginia Division of Forestry, Parkersburg Recycling, WVU Parkersburg, Mother Earth Foods, Hillbilly Engineering and the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department provided information on sustaining and enjoying the environment, diversified agriculture and healthy eating.

”This is Earth Week all across the United States,” said Phil McClung, who teaches an environmental psychology class at the college. ”Every year we get together and celebrate and remind people about keeping the environment clean.”

This year’s event was more scaled back than in previous years due to some unforeseen scheduling problems.

”It will be back next year,” McClung said confidently.

The event still had a lot of information for people.

“What we are stressing is the value of the planet, the value of the Earth,” McClung said. “We want to bring about an awareness of taking better care of the planet.

“What can we do here as students and faculty to enhance the ability for all of us to have renewable resources for our lifetime and our grandchildren’s lifetime. That is our purpose.”

Representatives from the West Virginia Division of Forestry gave out more than 120 small Sycamore trees throughout the event for people to take and plant somewhere.

“These are excess trees from our nursery in Mason County,” Forester Vern Stephens said. “They call them fire control seedlings.”

Trees do a lot for a variety of living things.

“They provide shelter for animals and shade for us,” Stephens said. “They also burn up carbon dioxide that we produce and they give off oxygen, the good stuff, for us.”

Diana Sprouse of Cairo, a student in the Diversified Agriculture program at WVU-P, was talking to people about the program.

“It is a new,” she said. “I am here to learn how to become a greenhouse entrepreneur.

“I want to have multiple greenhouses on my property.”

Sprouse is interested in producing fresh vegetables for local farmers’ markets and other venues.

” I want to give back to the community with fresh vegetables, because only 10 percent of the vegetables and produce that are used in West Virginia were grown here,” she said. “The other 90 percent are brought into West Virginia.

“I don’t think we should have that kind of ratio. I want to give back to the community and have locally grown produce.”

Sprouse said a lot of people had been stopping by throughout the day, showing interest in the college’s greenhouse program.

“They really want to get involved with the greenhouse and learn more about how to grow the produce,” she said.

Having an annual program like this shows everyone the kind of diversity the college offers.

“We have a lot going on here,” Sprouse said.

In recent years, the school has adopted a more “Think Green” philosophy with energy-efficient lighting, recycling containers, classrooms going more paperless and more for students to do every day, McClung said.

“We have sustainability committees here on campus,” he said. “The reduction in energy use has been incredible.

“We are doing so many things.”

Recycling has been around for a number of years now and people are more used to doing it in their everyday lives with more ways to do it.

“They are more aware that we need to protect the planet,” McClung said. “That is the purpose of Earth Day.”