Mother Nature may have decided on a rainy weekend, but the weather didn’t keep Sherman residents and surrounding community members from celebrating Mother Earth on Saturday. The Texoma Earth Day Festival was held inside the Sherman Municipal Ballroom and welcomed attendees to learn about the planet, listen to music, and browse through used goods and student art projects.
Amid the threat of storms, organizer Amy Hoffman-Shehan said she and other volunteers had to move the festival indoors and scale back some offerings, but pushed forward with plans to inform the public about one particular topic.
“This year we’re focusing primarily on recycling and educating the public about what is and isn’t recyclable,” Hoffman-Shehan said. “We want to help people think differently, less wastefully when they go to dispose of certain items.”
To help do that, Hoffman-Shehan said organizers spent much of the planning time for this year’s festival composing a comprehensive recycling guide to show residents of Texoma what types of services are available in their respective communities.
“It outlines all the different materials people can recycle based on what program they’re participating in,” Hoffman-Shehan said. “It also identifies places where they can drop off recyclables and different types of pickup and removal services.”
Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge Biologist Courtney Anderson said recyclable items often end up as litter in local waterways and on the shores of Lake Texoma, where they can leech harmful substances and affect water quality.
“We do lots and lots of trash cleanups,” Anderson said. “I call it ‘lake junk,’ but what we find contains everything from bottles to paper and plastic products. Old beer cans and plastic bags are probably the two things we find most.”
Anderson said the Texoma area is home to two distinct natural habitats — the Blackland Prairie and the Bottomland Hardwoods forest — and each supports a wide variety of plants an animals worth celebrating.
“In our prairie habitat, you’ll find dark soil, wildflowers, cottontail rabbits and coyotes, as well as red-tailed hawks and northern harriers that like to pray on the mice and rats out in the fields,” Anderson said. “And in the Bottomland Hardwoods, you’ll find deciduous trees, deer, raccoons and beavers near the waterways, fishing birds like cormorants and more.”
Though this year’s Earth Day Festival came and went, both Hoffman-Shehan and Anderson called on local community members to remain considerate of their environmental impacts all year long and to enjoy the natural spaces around them.
“It’s the only planet we’ve got,” Anderson said. “We need to make sure we’re taking care of it as best we can and that we’re being mindful of what we put out into the environment.”
Drew Smith is a reporter for the Herald Democrat. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DrewSmithHD.