A collaborative group in Carroll is planning a week of Earth Day-related events in April to educate the public on environmental issues.

The group is calling the event "Planet Carroll: Our Environmental Future?" and combines some previously existing Earth Day activities with some new ones that are being introduced.

"I'm very proud of what everybody's done," said Don West, co-founder of Waste Not! Carroll and one of the coordinators of Planet Carroll.

The week will start with an environmental business and career day at McDaniel College on April 16. Monda Becker, an assistant professor in the environmental studies department at the college, said the idea came from student Joe Wright in her environmental problem solving class. The business fair will be open to the public, she said, and will be followed by a Recycling Art Show that evening sponsored by the campus's Environmental Action Club.

The following day, Carroll Community College will have its annual Earth Day Activities in the Great Hall. Mainly an informational fair with some hands-on activities available, the day is open to the public as well as students.

On April 18, Carroll Community College will host an energy fair with BGE, followed by a screening of the film "Cool It," based on a book of the same name about climate change.

Carroll Hospital Center will have its annual Earth Day event April 19, with a community fair in the main lobby of the hospital. Also that day, Carroll Community College is scheduled to have a film screening and discussion on "No Impact Man," a documentary following a Manhattanite who strives to have no environmental impact for a year.

Plans are still in the works for a concert April 20, West said, but details will be forthcoming.

The main attraction of the week is a panel discussion with some big name speakers from the environmental world to be hosted at McDaniel College April 21.

The workshop will include two main themes, "Water Quality and Sustainability" and "Climate Change, Extreme Weather Events and Ecosystems."

Confirmed speakers to take part in panel discussions include Richard Josephson, director of the Maryland Department of Planning; Don Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science; Dru Schmidt-Perkins, executive director of 1,000 Friends of Maryland; Ned Tillman, co-founder of Sustainable Growth, LLC; Nelson Widell, co-founder of the Peninsula Compost Group, LLC; and Michael Barbour, director of ecological sciences for Tetra Tech.

Robert Summers, director of the Maryland Department of the Environment, has also been invited to speak, West said, but has not been confirmed, as well as a few other speakers. Overall though, Planet Carroll feels that the speakers will give a strong representation of the scientific work in these areas.

"This is these folks' lives and they are respected for their work in environmental science and water quality," West said.

The idea for a panel discussion like the one planned Planet Carroll has organized for April 21 arose after West and some other coordinators attended the county commissioner's PlanMaryland forum in Pikesville Oct. 31. West said the group wanted to further the discussion on some of the issues raised at that event, including climate change and water quality.

While these may seem like worldwide issues, West said the speakers are going to make these topics relevant to average person. Amd there will be plenty of time allowed for questions of the speakers, he said, but the coordinators are asking that audience members submit their questions in writing to be read by the moderator.

Barbour, who is also one of the coordinators for Planet Carroll, said the group is inviting all of the county commissioners, municipal government leaders and legislators. They've also made it a priority to include students, he said, from both McDaniel and Carroll Community College, as well as the high school-aged youths in Venturing Crew 202, who will set up sustainability displays in the foyer leading into Decker Auditorium where the panel discussions will be held.

"We're trying to engage the students," Barbour said, and have enjoyed working with their student interns to coordinate the events and develop the Planet Carroll website at planetcarroll.webs.com.

Venturing Crew 202, part of an off-shoot of the Boy Scouts of America, and Boy Scout Troop 395 will also be hosting a tree planting April 22, Earth Day, at Freedom Park in Sykesville. Paul Kazyak, an advisor to the crew, said the tree planting was made possible through a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, and will allow the youths to continue its multi-year effort of planting trees at this park.