MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC -- More than 50 students from Bolden, Elliott and Galer Elementary Schools aboard Laurel Bay were recognized for their award-winning Earth Day posters during ceremonies held at the schools, April 22.
The students celebrated the 35th anniversary of Earth Day with a poster contest organized by the Air Station’s Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Office and sponsored by Tri-Command Military Housing.
The first Earth Day, in 1970, had participants and celebrants in two thousand colleges and universities, roughly ten thousand primary and secondary schools, and hundreds of communities across the country. Senator Gaylord Nelson, an environmental activist, began the first Earth Day by persuading U.S. politicians that environmental legislation had a substantial, lasting constituency. In 1971 Nelson announced an ‘Earth Week’ for the third week of April as a yearly event.
“We want to spread the message that conservation helps everybody,” said Ted Hallman, solid waste and recycle manager, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.
The quantity and quality of participation in the contest improves each year, according to Hallman, who helped judge the posters.
“Each year the posters continue to improve,” Hallman said. “It was very difficult to pick winners, but that is a good problem to have.”
Colonel Harmon A. Stockwell, commanding officer, MCAS Beaufort, congratulated all of the participants and thanked them for being enthusiastic about conservation.
“A long time ago people did not pay attention to the way we treated Earth,” Stockwell said. “Now we have events like Earth Day to remind us how important conservation, protection and recycling are to our home.”
Honorable-mention awards were handed out for students from every grade at each school. A runner-up and grand-prize winner was selected from each grade as well. The key to the contest was not winning or losing, but participating, according to Stockwell.
“You are all winners if this contest got you thinking about preservation,” Stockwell said. “We all need to work together to save our planet and that is what we want you to start thinking about.”
The poster contest theme was “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”, the three “R”s of waste reduction. The contest was a good way to combine learning with fun, according to Bolden 5th grade grand-prize winner Tabitha Stein.
“I liked it because it was a fun way to create something out of stuff we learned at school,” Stein said.
The 2005 Earth Day contest was not just an artistic exercise for the students; it was also intended to help them understand the importance of global conservation.
“We learned a lot about saving the planet,” Stein said. “It gets everybody excited about helping the environment.”