Sunny Wood, a Fort Hood archaeologist, explains to students how stone tools were once used in tanning animal hides during an annual Earth Day event at Gatesville, Texas, April 22. (Christine Luciano, Fort Hood DPW Environmental)

GATESVILLE, Texas — Gatesville Independent School District students learned about recycling, sustainability, litter prevention, waterways and more during Gatesville’s annual Earth Day April 22.

“We are educating our children about sustainability at an early age and teaching them that every day is Earth Day,” said Liz Reinhardt, development coordinator for City of Gatesville. “We hope to inspire them that even at a young age, they can make a difference too.”

The program brought together 13 different presenters including several from Fort Hood’s Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division; Garrison and DPW Safety; Cen-Tex Sustainable Communities Partnership; Texas A&M Agrilife; and Keep Texas Beautiful affiliates from nearby Copperas Cove and Nolanville, Texas.

“It’s amazing the support we get from Fort Hood and community partners throughout Central Texas” Reinhardt said. “We couldn’t do it without them. They do so much for the kids with the knowledge, visuals and experiences they share.”

For four years, DPW Environmental has been a supporter of the Gatesville Earth Day, providing interactive, engaging presentations.

“We have Fort Hood staff with backgrounds in archaeology, wildlife, water, spill response and recycling, sharing their knowledge and teaching kids how to be more environmentally conscious with their decisions,” said Tanicha Avila, environmental protection specialist for DPW Environmental. “There’s a little bit of everything, to teach everyone a little bit of something.”

Avila and Brent McGlothin, DPW Environmental, used a watershed model to explain how different pollutants like petroleum and oils and fertilizers can impact the environment, fish and organisms.

“We need you to stop pollutants where you see them,” McGlothin said. “You can help by not littering, cleaning up after your pets and keeping an eye out for leaks from vehicles.”

At another presentation, Fort Hood archaeologist Sunny Wood explained to students how artifacts help them learn about the different archaeological sites.

“Historically, people didn’t recycle and consumer goods ended up in the ground and became artifacts,” Wood said. “The different types of garbage that we find can help tell us the age of the sites, what kind of people lived there and what food they ate.”

Fifth-grader Hannah Ashley, 11, said she had a great time at the event, and her favorite part was learning that elephant poop can be made into paper.

“If we don’t take care of the environment, the Earth would basically be a giant trash can,” Ashley said. “That would be bad for the animals and for us, and we would eventually die.”

Ashley was among more than 450 students who visited throughout the day.

She challenged others to do their part to help the environment.

“We can pick up trash at the parks,” Ashley said, “and don’t litter.”