By Olivia Mills, Environmental Technician; Jason Applegate, Natural Resources Specialist, Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia
On April 26, Fort A.P. Hill welcomed more than 1,830 visitors from 15 local schools to participate in its largest Earth Day celebration thus far. This event was supported by more than 70 public and private entities that volunteered time to exhibit educational displays and engage local youth on all aspects of natural resources and environmental management.
This annual event is recognized by the surrounding community for its quality and excellence, largely due to the support it receives from a diverse spectrum of environmental organizations. Military tenants also provided a hands-on perspective of why environmental stewardship and management are essential—to maintain the quality of lands that are required to train the nation’s military forces.
Garrison Integrated Training Area Management personnel were available to teach students about the long-term viability and sustainability of the
U.S. Army’s lands. The U.S. Army’s Sustainable Range Program strives
to keep Fort A.P. Hill’s training areas continually available and accessible by protecting its natural resources and achieving environmental compliance.
The students were exposed to a variety of organizations during this event, ranging from natural resources and wildlife conservation groups to outdoor recreation clubs, local sustainable farms, historic societies, and even law enforcement and military units. For many students, it is an Earth Day event like this that first comes to mind when asked about Fort A.P. Hill. This annual celebration has become the premier outreach event to engage the community on environmental awareness and conservation, while promoting sustainable military land management.
This event is an ideal forum for the local youths and members of the community to learn about the challenges with restoring the Chesapeake Bay. Exhibitors presented information on water recreation safety practices, the importance of maintaining clean waterways through proper litter disposal, and managing agricultural runoff, which is an ongoing concern in the Chesapeake Bay and wetlands nationwide.
Environmental awareness was not limited to those who visited the event— training personnel also integrated annual workforce Environmental Awareness Training. Subject matter experts within the installation Directorate of Public Works, Environmental and Natural Resources Division provided this hands-on training. Posters and displays highlighted mission-relevant aspects of Fort A.P. Hill’s Sustainability/ Environmental Management Systems Program, Hazardous Waste and Recycling, Water Quality, and Natural and Cultural Resources Management.