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Cleanups, Fairs Will Mark Earth Day

April 13, 2009 — Across the territory, organizations and government agencies are finalizing plans for the 39th annual Earth Day. While Earth Day is actually April 22, events are planned leading up to that day, as well as on the day itself.
St. Croix
The St. Croix Environmental Association holds its annual Earth Day Eco Fair from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 22 and 23 at St. George Village Botanical Garden. It's targeted at students in grades three to six, but the public is invited to attend, Program Manager Carol Cramer-Burke said.
"We'll have representatives from a wide variety of agencies," she said.
Those representatives will each put on a 15-minute presentation for the students. The presentations include games as well as visual activities to teach the students about the environment.
Cramer-Burke expects about 1,000 students to attend.
A "Little Stomp" that begins near the Sunshine Mall is one of the Eco Fair's highlights. Fifth and sixth graders will "stomp" from the V.I. Waste Management Authority headquarters near Sunshine Mall to St. George Village Botanical Garden. Each class will choreograph its own stomp, according to Cramer-Burke.
St. John
On St. John, the island where nature reigns thanks to the presence of the V.I. National Park, the Friends of the Park will hold a celebration from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 20 at the ballfield next to the park's Visitors' Center.
The event features slews of eco-activities geared toward students, a solar oven cooking demonstration, environmental and recycling demonstrations, and science and earth art exhibits. Participants can learn about alternative energies and landscaping with native plants, participate in simulated archeology digs and much more. There will be live music, snacks and goodies for the kids.
All St. John schools have been invited to attend, but the public is also welcome.
"You'll see all the kids out celebrating earth-friendly practices," said Friends Program Manager Audrey Penn.
The April 20 Earth Day Fair will be followed by beach and trail cleanup on April 25. Participants in the Friends' Adopt-A-Beach/Trail program are asked to remove debris from their adopted beach/trail as part of an island-wide cleanup. The Adopt-A-Beach/Trail program encourages volunteer groups to adopt a site and become responsible for keeping it clean.
The Friends will clean up Drunk Bay starting at 8 a.m. April 25, Penn said.
St. Thomas
St. Thomas has a raft of activities for both students and adults.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will, for the fifth year in a row, sponsor its Pro-Enviro Fair. It will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday at the University of the Virgin Islands green on St. Thomas.
In conjunction with the Earth Day Pro-Enviro Fair, the Education Department will have presentations geared at the territory's younger students as part of its Week of the Young Child and National Library Week.
The Pro-Enviro Fair features an array of presentations aimed at students in grades six through 12, including a game called "Who Wants to be an Environmentalist."
"It's teachers against the students," said the EPA's life scientist, Keshema Webbe.
The questions, many of which relate to the Virgin Islands, were submitted by various government departments, as well as agencies and organizations that deal with the environment.
Help clean up the Benner Bay Lagoon watershed. On Saturday, volunteers will pick up trash from the Bridge to Nowhere, located near the Benner Bay Lagoon, to the lagoon. It's sponsored by the Environmental Association of St. Thomas, UVI's Center for Marine and Environmental Studies, Coors Light, the Planning and Natural Resources Department, Budget Marine, Friends of Christmas Cove and the St. Thomas East End Reserve Management Planning Group.
"There were requests from the community members," said UVI Extension Specialist Lihla Noori. "That's why we chose this site."
The Benner Bay Lagoon is home to the largest stand of mangroves in the territory. Additionally, it carries "Area of Particular Concern" designation by the Planning and Natural Resources Department and is a wildlife sanctuary and reserve.
Although it holds these two designations, Noori said there is no management plan in place. This means it's impacted by land-based activities in the area.
Registration for the cleanup is from 8 to 9 a.m., with the first 100 people who register receiving a complimentary T-shirt. The cleanup runs from 9 a.m. to noon. Stick around after the cleanup for free pizza and beer.
Coki Beach Dive Club, in conjunction with Coral World Ocean Park, will hold an underwater cleanup at Water Bay, located in front of nearby hotels.
"I know there's stuff in there that needs to be cleaned up," Jackson said. "Bottles, batteries and probably tires."
Divers and snorkelers will meet at 9 a.m. Friday at Coki Beach Dive Club. All equipment and drinking water will be provided.
At least one of the territory's schools plans to celebrate its own Earth Day. Addelita Cancryn Junior High School plans a science fair, followed by an afternoon planting of decorative palms and fruit trees. The fair begins at 11 a.m. April 22, with the planting starting at around 1:30 p.m.
Science teacher Anna Francis said her environmental science students will work alongside the Environmental Rangers — a group of students she leads in learning about the territory's fragile marine and land environments — to learn how to preserve and protect natural ecosystems and cultural heritage.
For more information, contact Penn at 779-4940, Cramer-Burke at 773-1989, Webb at 714-2333, EAST's Dalma Simon at 774-1837, Noori at 693-1392 and Jackson at 775-4220.
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