By Puneet Singh Gill, Assistant Professor, Texas A&M International University - Laredo, TX
More than 130,000 people convened at this year’s Earth Day Texas (EDTx) 2016 at the end of April for the world’s largest annual green exhibition at Dallas’ Fair Park.
EDTx had something for everyone, including exhibits, speakers, student field trips, live local music, a KERA Family Zone, an eco-film series, a local food market and a sustainable beer garden. EDTx is the signature annual expo and forum for sharing the latest initiatives, discoveries, research, innovations, policies, products and corporate practices reshaping the world.
Weekend highlights included talks by leaders and luminaries such as Ted Roosevelt IV, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, Karenna Gore and Space Architect Constance Adams each day. Other speakers included Guro Grytli Seim, cofounder and COO of One Earth Designs, Laura Turner Seydel, eco-living expert and chairperson of Captain Planet Foundation, Leilani Münter, racecar driver and environmental activist, and Amory Lovins, co-founder, chairman and chief scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute.
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has approved EDTx as a continuing education (CPE) provider for teacher certification. EDTx strives to bring environmental issues to the forefront and educate as many people as possible about the latest innovations and research in the environmental space. CPE credits are available for educators attending sessions on literary studies, the arts, economics, outdoor education, business, social studies, math and all fields of science.
EDTx formed a new funding opportunity called Earth Tank Prize, an initiative of EDTx in concert with the Dallas Festival of Ideas (DFOI) that awarded a total of $25,000 in prize money to three environmental non-profit groups with important conservation and sustainability projects in Texas.
Inspired by Mark Cuban’s popular show Shark Tank, the Earth Tank Prize allowed non-profits participating in EDTx 2016 to present their innovative ideas for conservation and environmental protection to a selection committee. A panel of judges assembled by EDTx and DFOI then evaluated the projects based on their positive environmental impact as well as their related impact in one or more of the following focus areas: education, health, literacy, downtown or suburban jobs and entrepreneurship.
Here’s a look at this year’s winners:
Downwinders at Risk, a citizen-action group devoted to clean air issues in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, picked up the first-category prize for $3,000. The organization’s proposal focused on purchasing and utilizing an airborne drone to monitor air quality. Judges were impressed by the direct impact of the solution, and judge Will Rogers of Deep Vellum Publishing called the idea the “best combination of presentation, strategy, and content. Scalability, public engagement with an innovative solution that fills a critical gap—and the $3,000 will make a difference.”
Trinity Environmental Academy, the South Dallas charter school that aims to teach children about nature through its unique, environment-focused curriculum, took the $7,000 second-round prize. The academy’s pitch, which contained detailed sample graphics and tables with timelines and costs, centered on its creation of an “exceptional outdoor space” that features outdoor learning and shipping container classrooms. Judge Ron Stelmarski of Perkins+Will called the school’s efforts the creation of a much-needed “eco-ethos.”
National Wildlife Federation claimed the $15,000 prize with its proposal on the declining monarch butterfly population. Specifically, the organization plans to use the Earth Tank prize money to support its Monarch Network efforts in Dallas and help implement Monarch Heroes, a program that engages students to create habitats for butterflies at their schools across Dallas Independent School District.
Environmental non-profit groups that are registered to exhibit at EDTx 2017 and are seeking funding for new or existing initiatives in Texas may submit proposals.
There are 5 ways in which schools can participate in EDTx April 19-21, 2017:
1. Exhibit at EDTx to highlight student science projects or conservation programs from their campus
2. Teachers can earn CPE credits for attending any of the speaker/panel sessions
3. Schools can bring a group of students on a field trip
4. Participate in the EDTx debate tournament or...
5. Host the Omni Globe on your campus
Contact Rebecca Murry in Business Development K-12 Programming for more information on exhibiting and registering for Earth Day Texas and Earth Tank 2017 at 214-632-8261 or via email at Rebecca@earthdaytx.org.
Be sure to visit the EDTx booth # 348 at CAST 2016: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants in San Antonio.