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Celebrating Earth Day and Educating Students

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On Thursday morning, Pasco Hernando State College hosted an event at its north campus in honor of Earth Day. Roughly a dozen organizations set up stalls with various informational materials for students, and Padula’s Pizza even brought a food truck to keep the attendees full and refreshed on the hot spring day. Some of the groups represented included the Sierra Club, the Hernando Community Coalition (HCC), the Hernando Audobon, and the county.

“We wanted to bring awareness of the possibilities,” Professor Janet Dean said. “So, that is why we have birding people [the Hernando Audobon] here, wildlife rescue. It is just a little bit of everything in terms of being good to the environment. Our job is to inspire and transform and get kids to think beyond themselves and this is just one event that allows them to do that. Fortunately, we have all of these organizations that are more than willing to participate and come in and share their knowledge and what they know. I am learning stuff as well as everybody else. So, it is all about awareness.”

According to the PHSC environmental science professor, who spoke with the Sun on Thursday, the college began holding the event between six and seven years ago. It all started because she wanted to get her students involved and inspired to help the planet. With an idea in place, a committee was formed to bring as many representatives as possible to campus.

All parties involved are hoping that by teaching the younger generation about a range of topics like environmental conservation, bird watching, recycling, hydroponics, and drug safety, it will lead to a healthier and more aware society.

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“We have a committee of about five or six of us that get together and talk about what we would like to see here at the campus and to reach out to community sponsors getting people to come to display how to conserve the world because we want to be able to live here for a long, long time,” said Sandre Lyons, Coordinator of Student Life at PHSC.

Jillan Crowley and Robin Orlandi from the Sierra Club were educating passersby on how they have accomplished landmark feats that preserved environmentally sensitive lands (of the spotted owl and purple skink). They are the oldest conservation organization in the United States and their looking chapter is looking toward the future of the Weeki Wachee River. They will be holding a summit on Friday, May 3 at PHSC’s Spring Hill campus to discuss the condition and protection of the waters. The event is free, and the public can RSVP to attend at bit.ly/49zRvn3.

Founded in 2006, the HCC is concerned for the health and safety of the community by raising awareness about bullying, the dangers of vaping, and more. They won a service award for coalition of the year in 2016 and spent the morning into the afternoon bringing attention to the opioid epidemic. Jennifer Bliska and Brian Jones from HCC handed out bags filled with educational materials and emergency opioid overdose treatments of Narcan in case attendees ever find someone in such a serious condition.

The state college looks to continue holding educational events throughout the year. Depending on the month, PHSC will hold a myriad of other events such as women’s empowerment, Hispanic heritage, and hurricane awareness. “It is just a little bit of everything depending on season and what the month is,” said Dean.

Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch is a Graduate with Distinction, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. He's written numerous articles reporting on Florida Gators football, basketball, and soccer teams; the sports of rugby, basketball, professional baseball, hockey, and the NFL Draft. Prior to Hernando Sun he was a contributor to ESPN, Gainesville, FL and Gator Country Multimedia, Inc. in Gainesville, FL, and Stadium Gale.
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