By GORDON JACKSON The Brunswick News
KINGSLAND — Earth Day has been recognized nationwide on April 20 since 1970 as a way to create awareness about the environment.
Students and faculty Wednesday held the first ever Earth Day celebration at the College of Coastal Georgia's Camden Center, and they decided to make it a learning experience.
Displays at the main entrance and in the rotunda provided information about the local environment and beyond by using a combination of high-tech equipment such as microscopes showing the effects of air pollution to displays showing indigenous animals that make some people uncomfortable.
Sibille Chalkley, a geology professor at the college, said the displays were designed to be more educational than the typical ones many people see elsewhere on Earth Day. But those attended the event didn't need a college degree to understand the information at each station.
"It's not that in-depth to be overwhelming," Chalkley said.
Josh Clark, a biology and environmental science instructor, manned a display featuring snakes, lizards and amphibians. The message he tried to share was the importance the animals play.
"All animals, especially snakes, have an important environmental function," he said. "If it wasn't for animals like this, we'd be overrun with pests."
Clark said, like many Southerners, he was raised to kill snakes on sight.
"We're raised to think that way in the South," he said.
Now, he tries to convince people about the important role snakes play.
"We are a bigger threat to them than they are to us," he said. "I'm hoping to change some minds about creepy, crawly stuff. A lot of it is just educating people about the biodiversity we have in Georgia."
Tracee Dixon, a student at the college, said the Earth Day displays helped her better understand some of the lessons she recently studied in her geology class.
"We didn't get to see the actual fossils," she said. "It made it so much more interesting than the book."
Dixon said she was surprised at the subject matter presented at each station, including microbiology, paleontology, oceanography, groundwater and prehistoric Georgia history.
"It was more educational than I expected," she said. "I was not expecting this at all."
Classmate Allayah Myers said she was surprised by the concise way each display presented complicated information.
"By walking around, it made me understand," she said. "It's more informational, definitely. It's Earth Day, but going more in-depth."