In the spirit of starting anew with the spring, Sumterites celebrated the eighth-annual Earth Day event, recognizing the importance of protecting Mother Earth, at Swan Lake-Iris Gardens on Saturday.
"We've got to protect our Earth," said Lynn …
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"We've got to protect our Earth," said Lynn Kennedy, City of Sumter events manager. "This is just to bring the environment back to people's minds.
"We've got to start taking recycling a little bit more serious than we have in the past, to protect the groundwater."
This is something all generations need to participate in, she said.
To help spread awareness, representatives from various organizations such as Sumter County Master Gardener Program, City of Sumter Sanitation Department, Central Carolina Technical College and The Farm Store set up booths to let the public know what more they can do to protect the local environment.
"We've got two associate degrees directly involved with protecting the environment," said Josh Castleberry, chairman of Department of Environmental and Natural Resources at CCTC. "And I've got some animals to draw people in."
While telling people about CCTC's programs, Castleberry held a baby alligator and different types of snakes.
He said everyone uses these resources, and someone has to take care of them.
"I've always been involved in the outdoors," Castleberry said. "And I got to the point where I realized that if nobody takes care of [the environment], then it won't be there for everybody else."
He said he figured the best way he could help protect the environment is to teach other people to enjoy it and protect it.
While some teachers educate students on specific ways to protect the environment, others provide a more artistic way to appreciate nature.
Every year, Heidi Adler, head of the fine arts department at Sumter High School, and other local art teachers set up a "make-and-take" art table so children can make something using things from nature they can take home.
A lot of times, the adults get into it, too, Adler said.
On Saturday, children wrapped scraps of yarn around pencils glued to sticks, repurposing old supplies that might have otherwise been thrown away.
Randolph Paige, director of City of Sumter Sanitation Department, and his team were out to let the public know what services are available for waste pickup and recycling.
The main thing about Earth Day, Paige said, from the city's perspective is to let the residents know what the sanitation department can do for them.
People often call to ask about recycling and ads, such as billboards about recycling used car oil and tires, that can bring information to more people, he said.
For more information about the city's recycling programs, go to www.sumtersc.gov/sanitation or call (803) 436-2558.
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