Heber Springs, other local campuses celebrate the planet

By Angela Spencer Published April 27, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

White County Central High School student Serena Hickmon checks out the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission aquarium on display at ASU-Heber Springs.

Sunshine, a slight breeze and a big, grassy area provided the picture-perfect setting for Earth Day activities on Arkansas State University-Heber Springs’ campus Tuesday morning.

Six hundred children from four local schools were signed up to participate in the educational games and activities sprawled across the campus.

“They’re learning about alternative fuels, geology, recycling, litter campaigns,” said Linda Gatti-Clark, ASU-Heber Springs instructor of science. “They’re planting seeds, learning about water safety and water quality and what it does to the fish in our environment.”

The Heber Springs Earth Day celebration started several years ago at Heber Springs High School, but the event grew beyond the high school’s space and relocated to ASU-Heber Springs last year.

“This way it went out to all of the schools,” said Avil Snow, ASU-Heber Springs adjunct professor and Heber Springs High School teacher. “That was my goal, to make sure it was available to everyone.”

Snow is the faculty adviser for the Heber Springs High School Science Club, and 50 of her students were out in full force at Earth Day, facilitating games and helping the younger students with their activities.

“And they had to work for this,” Snow said. “They had to prove to all of their teachers that they could miss class today, so they had to work to come and work.”

Next year’s Earth Day celebration is already on Snow’s mind, and she said she is looking for more partners to help with booths, the water fund and other aspects of the event.

Clay McCastlain, assistant professor of biology at ASU-Heber Springs, said the campus has implemented some “go green” initiatives, including on-campus recycling through TerraCycle, a waste-collection program that takes materials and turns them into affordable green products.

“The older I get, the more concerned I am about recycling,” McCastlain said. In addition to teaching biology, he acts as the Ecology Club faculty adviser. Some of his students have helped with upkeep on Sugarloaf Mountain, which is directly behind the buildings of the campus.

“We’re trying to keep it as natural as we can,” he said.

Chris Boyett, vice chancellor of ASU-Heber Springs, said they have also installed devices to water faucets to control the flow, thus save water when people wash their hands.

“If you do it on one faucet, it does a little,” he said. “But if you do it on all of them, it makes a big difference. You don’t need 15 gallons of water to wash your hands.”

ASU-Heber Springs has also started an Associate in Environmental Science program. The state Legislature approved the program last spring, and the faculty is recruiting students.

McCastlain said there will most likely be agreements with Arkansas State University-Jonesboro, the University of Central Arkansas and Southern Arkansas University for students who want to transfer and complete a bachelor’s degree after finishing an associate degree at ASU-Heber Springs.

Staff writer Angela Spencer can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or aspencer@arkansasonline.com.

Zoned Editions Staff Writer Angela Spencer can be reached at 501-244-4307 or aspencer@arkansasonline.com.

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