Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Cold And Rainy Oconee County Earth Day Celebration Attracted Large Number Of Exhibitors and Enthusiastic Crowd

***Organized By Oconee Democrats***

Twenty-four exhibitors participated in the Earth Day celebration organized by the Oconee County Democrats at Harris Shoals Park in Watkinsville on Saturday.

The cold and rainy weather kept the crowd small and forced most of the exhibitors into the main shelter house at the park.

Conversation and enthusiasm among those present was lively, however, despite the weather.

The Democratic Party gave donations to four of the presenters, based on the votes of those at the event.

The Oconee County High School Environmental Club and Sonia Altizer of Monarch Health, a citizen science project at the University of Georgia, each received $100 from the Democrats.

The Democrats gave $50 to the Citizen Climate Lobby with speaker Mark Farmer and $50 to Michael Brugger of Eating and Cooking for the Planet with Solar Box Cookers and Dr. Neal Priest, who demonstrated how to cook with energy-efficient Instant Pots.

Organizers And Exhibitors

Pam Davis, Pat Priest and Ann Stoneburner organized the nonpartisan Earth Day event on behalf of the Oconee County Democrats.

Monarch Butterfly

Exhibitors, in addition to the four judged most highly by attendees, included the Friends of the Georgia Natural History Museum with chiggers expert Dac Crosley, Forest Entomology by the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia, and Mosquito Control by Hunter Gregg of the Georgia Department of Public Health in Athens.

The Department of Public Health also was selected as eligible for a $50 award but was not able to accept the donation.

The Greater Apalachee River Community, Upper Oconee Watershed Network, the Athens Land Trust, the Sandy Creek Nature Center, and the Keep Oconee County Beautiful Commission had exhibits. So did the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia.

Davis, Priest and Stoneburner recognized the assistance with the project from Beta Clubs and National Honor Societies from both of the county’s high schools and from the Environmental Club GO GREEN at North Oconee High School.

Top Two Exhibits

Students at the Oconee County High School Environmental Club were offering free tree seedlings that they had grown at their exhibit.

Oconee County High School Environmental Club

Sonia Altizer of Monarch Health brought along her display of Monarch butterflies.

Altizer is an associate professor of ecology in the Odom School of Ecology at the University of Georgia.

Monarch Health is a citizen science project that tracks the prevalence of the protozoan parasite Ophryocystis elektroscirrha in monarch butterflies.

Participants at the Saturday event were given a chance to walk in the park and identify native and nonnative plant species and to sample food from the exhibits.

Children–and adults–loved the bucket of soapy water set up outside the shelter with a primitive but very effective device for making very large bubbles.


The event ran from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday. I was there at the beginning but left at 2:30 p.m. because of the rain and cold.

While I was there I saw former Georgia House District 117 Representative Deborah Gonzalez and Watkinsville Council member Dan Matthews.

Davis, Priest and Stoneburner told me that Watkinsville Mayor David Shearon and Watkinsville Council member Brian Brodrick also attended.

The very short video below is made up of clips I shot of the event on Saturday in an attempt to capture the breadth of exhibitors and feeling of the gathering.

Note: Hunter Gregg's name has been added to the report on 4/25/2019 and his agency's name has been corrected to reflect new information from the program organizers.

No comments: