2 ENVIRONMENTAL EVENTS GET KIDS INVOLVED IN KEEPING AREA CLEAN & GREEN

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“Sustain La Mesa” Environmental Festival – Sept. 12
Coastal Cleanup Day at Lake Murray – Sept. 19

 

By Kristin Hobbs Kjaero

 

If young people are our future, then the environment will ultimately be in their hands. Two events in East County this month provide perfect opportunities for families to spend quality time together, and for community groups to show kids how they can make a difference.

 

Second annual “Sustain La Mesa” Environmental Festival
September 12, 10am - 2 pm, Harry Griffen Park

 

There’s plenty for families to get excited about at the Sustain La Mesa Environmental Festival, from student projects and contests, to games and activities aimed for kids, to student volunteers.

 

In addition to an Earth Day-style festival replete with informational booths, give-aways, speakers, e-waste and recycling collection, the La Mesa Environmental Sustainability Commission has partnered with a number of community organizations to reach out to youth this year.

 

The “Our Planet, Our Home”  poetry and art contest was created to encourage K-12 students to reflect upon the environment. Awards will be given onstage at 10 am, followed by a speaker from the Children and Nature Network.  Winning entries will be displayed in the La Mesa Library throughout September. The contest is sponsored by the City, the La Mesa Library  and the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District.

Bring your kids to the Splash Science Mobile Lab for hands-on, interactive fun and the chance to explore weather, watersheds, estuaries, zoology and chemistry experiments, using computers, GIS and microscopes.

 

Helix Charter High School  teacher and Commission member Debi Byrd has arranged for the school’s Environmental Club to display student environmental projects. “It’s a great for teens to have the opportunity to sit down together and hear what other kids are doing, and how taking the environmental class has changed their worldview,” said Byrd.

 

Helix High Senior Emillio Casillas enjoyed Byrd’s AP Environmental class so much that he wants to major in environmental policy when he goes to college. As part of his senior graduation project, Casillas has designed a Festival booth for the Commission, on which he holds the youth seat.  Casillas has also created a children’s game to get youngsters involved and thinking in a fun way.

 

The City’s “Ready, Set, Live Well”  booth will also include an activity for kids, and the La Mesa Youth Advisory Commission  has kindly volunteered to give out water and help at the event.

 

Other participants include the Audubon Society, Cactus Recycling, California Center for Sustainable Energy, Ecolife, EDCO, Friends of Lake Murray, Helix Environmental Planning, Helix Water District, I Love a Clean San Diego, HHGH – Safe Pest Control, La Mesa Beautiful, La Mesa Library, La Mesa-Spring Valley School District, National Wildlife Federation, Native Plant Society, Real Goods, Carlson Solar, San Diego River Park Foundation, San Diego County Water Authority, San Diego Solar Cooking Club, SDG&E, Sierra Club, Water Conservation Garden and the UCCE Master Gardeners.

 

For a Festival flyer, schedule of speakers, useful links and the City’s Climate Action Report, please visit the Environmental Sustainability Commission’s webpage.

  

Coastal Cleanup Day at Lake Murray
September 19, 9am - noon at the boat dock

 

We can’t think of a more concrete way for kids to see the difference they can make, while getting involved in something bigger than themselves.

 

This year it’s the 25th annual Coastal Cleanup Day, http://cleanupday.org/ part of the annual International Coastal Cleanup started by the Ocean Conservancy,  which last year involved 400,000 volunteers in 104 countries and 42 U.S. states.

 

On this day every year, all manner of debris is collected at lakes, rivers, beaches and waterways, weighed and recorded to provide a global snapshot and identify changing patterns and sources of marine debris, to help bring about constructive change.

 

While I Love a Clean San Diego and San Diego Coastkeeper  have organized some 80 cleanup sites around the County, the focus is on youth involvement at the Lake Murray site – schools, scouts, youth groups, churches, clubs and families.

 

Barbara Cleves Anderson, who chairs the Friends of Lake Murray  site, quoted Susan Davis, “If children never experience nature, they’ll never learn to love and protect it.” She explained, “This gives them an opportunity to connect with nature in a small and meaningful way.”

 

In the 5 years since the Friends of Lake Murray joined Coastal Cleanup Day, it has grown to one of the largest sites in the county, with 162 volunteers last year. This year San Diego City Councilman Marti Emerald will attend as well.

 

Although the Friends of Lake Murray arrange a monthly cleanup (8 am on second Saturdays), Cleves Anderson said, “This is the one day of the year we can get it truly 100% clean. We have the support we need to get under every bush.” She emphasizes the large amount of cigarette butts and fishing line picked up, which are detrimental to the birds and animals.

 

Pre-register online  to save time and help organizers plan, or you can sign in at the boat dock on the day of the event. Teams of two or more will be organized to start at both ends of the trail and meet in the middle. Community Service Hour forms are available, and people are advised to wear hats and sunscreen, carry plenty of water, and bring garden gloves if you wish.

 

For this event, the California Coastal Cleanup Day also has a Scout Patch and Coloring Contest.

 

“They feel good about doing something, and when families participate its great quality time together,” Cleves Anderson concluded.

 

Get your kids revved up for the day with this inspiring National Geographic video on the International Coastal Cleanup.