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Catonsville organizations gear up for Earth Day

With Earth Day just around the corner on April 22, Catonsville organizations are gearing up to show their concern for the environment.

The Benjamin Banneker Park and Museum on Oella Avenue is hosting an Earth Day celebration and the Children's Home on Bloomsbury Avenue will host an electronics recycling drive, both on Saturday, April 20.

Bill Lambert, president of the Friends of Benjamin Banneker, the community volunteer group that helps maintain the park and museum, said Earth Day is an important opportunity to increase awareness about the environment.

He said the goal of the museum's Earth Day celebration, which will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., is for people, "to become more aware of the impact that we have on the environment itself, the earth," Lambert said.

Saturday's event, co-sponsored by the park and the Friends, will feature a presentation about sustainable agriculture by Love Dove Farms, demonstrations by the wildlife group Echoes of Nature, an art show by Catonsville Elementary School students, arts and crafts and more.

He said that, especially in light of recent weather patterns — snow in late March and a record-setting 91 degrees on April 10 — it is more important than ever to teach people how to decrease their footprint on the planet.

"In all the years I've been alive, I've never seen (weather like) this," Lambert said.

Park naturalists and Towson University students Asha McKnight and Elizabeth Strick both said the event will be an opportunity to extend their educational efforts to a broader audience.

"It's a platform," said Strick, a 22-year-old environmental science major who is scheduled to graduate in May.

"People can come out and have a great time," she said.

"Hopefully we can have an impact on their lives," Strick said.

Strick, like Lambert said that educating citizens on how to lessen their footprint is more important now.

"We can all see climate change," Strick said. "If we can just start educating kids and raise a generation of environmentally conscious people, it will decrease the impact on the earth."

McKnight said developing environmentally friendly habits early is critical.

"It's important for it to just be natural to be aware of your impact on the earth," said McKnight, 25, an environmental science grad student.

"It shouldn't be something you form later in life. It's something you should learn early and do often," she said.

Lambert said his group is especially excited about the upcoming event because it reflects the values that Banneker possessed when he was alive.

Banneker was an astronomer and mathematician who also published six almanacs and helped survey the boundaries for Washington, D.C., in 1791.

He said Banneker, who died in 1806, was passionate about nature and the Earth and that the park's annual Earth Day events pass along those passions.

"It's really a legacy of Mr. Benjamin Banneker, because he was an expert farmer. He was concerned about the environment," Lambert said.

"Perpetuating his legacy, we need to perpetuate those things that he was interested in," he said.

Not just cans and bottles

The Children's Home in Catonsville will hold a recycling drive from 9 a.m. to noon on April 20, but it won't be for the newspaper, bottles and cans most people sort separately from their trash.

The home on Bloomsbury Avenue will serve as a drop off station for old electronics, such as computers, printers, copiers, televisions, as well as documents that need to be shredded.

"It's a free event and people come and bring documents that need to be securely shredded and also electronics," said Gail Lee, director of development at The Children's Home.

Lee said the organization has partnered with Sims Recycling Solutions for the past four years to host the event every year in April.

In fact, it actually has no specific connection with Earth Day.

"(It's) sort of a spring cleaning," Lee said.

The Children's Home is celebrating its 150th anniversary providing treatment for at-risk youth in Maryland and Lee said the recycling event gives the students a welcome opportunity to interact with the community.

"This is a big time for us, so we're trying to really increase the leverage of our events and our service to celebrate that," Lee said.

"It gives the residents here an opportunity to do community service," she said.

"We try to help them so they can return to the community as productive citizens," Lee said.

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