April 22, 2005 V.I. students joined their counterparts all over the nation in observance of Earth Day Friday.
While St. Croix students participated in the 12th annual Eco-Fair at the St. George Village Botanical Gardens, St. Thomas students, for the first-time in history, engaged in a fair of their own.
The Environmental Protection Agency sponsored the first ever "Pro-Enviro Fair" on St. Thomas at the Bertha C. Boschulte Junior High School auditorium. About 200 students from BCB, Addelita Cancryn Junior High School and Lockhart Elementary School took part in the Earth Day observance.
"This is our version of the exercise that is occurring nationally today for the observation of Earth Day," Jim Casey, V.I. EPA coordinator, said.
Earth Day was first observed April 22, 1970 in the United States when 20 million people across the country demonstrated as a means of spotlighting their concerns about the state of the rivers, lakes, land and air. Prior to that grassroots movement the environment was not part of the national agenda. The limelight cast upon environmental issues thanks to that first Earth Day has expanded across the globe.
Casey said his agency decided to start small with the observance, engaging a few students from some of the elementary schools. The students were treated to different presentations from various private and governmental agencies. As they walked from one display booth to the other, students learned of the importance of water conservation and energy efficiency, among other things.
"We feel that these are very important areas of concern presently in the Virgin Islands," Casey said of the topics discussed with the youth.
Representatives from the V.I. Water and Power Authority, the Planning and Natural Resources Department, the University of the Virgin Islands' Conservation Data Center, Friends of the V.I. National Park and, of course, the EPA, discussed ways the students could care for the environment and careers they could pursue.
"We wanted to give students information they could use for school and in their daily lives," Casey said.
Casey said the EPA hopes to make the fair an annual event on St. Thomas.
"Hopefully, next year it can be a larger event," Casey said.
Aesha Peters, 13, said the fair was beneficial and interesting.
"We learned a lot of things," the Addelita Cancryn seventh-grade student said.
Peters said it was good to learn about the conservation of wildlife.
"I never thought plastic material could kill animals in the ocean," Peters said. "I will be more careful about how I throw away stuff."
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