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Central Washington University usually hosts an Earth Day Fair; however it was canceled this year due to the dangers of the coronavirus.

Instead, the university held an online webinar meeting where panelists spoke of projects they were working on, or organizations they represented, all in the theme of cleaning the planet.

The webinar was hosted by the CWU Sustainability Team Coordinator Kathleen Klaniecki. Four panelists made up the rest of the meeting. These panelists were CWU Farm and Sustainability Manager Kate Doughty, Steering committee member of “Our Environment” Dr. Barry Brunson, CWU Geology Professor and former head of the Ellensburg School District Polystyrene Investigative Committee Dr. Susan Kaspari and President of the Kittitas Audubon Society Judy E. Hallisey.

Klaniecki said the fair usually hosts organizations that can share upcoming events and activities that their organization is planning. This was not an option this time, although Dr. Brunson did present projects the “Our Environment” organization had worked on, such as encouraging shoppers to use re-usable bags at grocery stores. According to Brunson, the organization has been meeting with city officials to discuss proposals of renewable energy.

People who want to help the “Our Community” organization can contact Brunson at mathisfun@mac.com. People are welcome to donate or join.

Kate Doughty discussed the community farm on Alder Street. The purpose of this farm is not only to teach university students about agriculture, but the produce from the farm goes to feeding the university. The “Wildcat Neighborhood Farm” offers multiple opportunities for students looking to volunteer. However, due to the current COIVD-19 outbreak, these opportunities are temporarily on hold.

Replacing the polystyrene lunch trays in the Ellensburg School District is something Kaspari described as a “social justice issue.” Kaspari was the head of the Polystyrene Investigative Committee that was created by the Ellensburg School Board.

Removing the Polystyrene trays from the district is an issue that has seen support from the community. The Investigative Committee was tasked with finding an affordable alternative to Polystyrene. Earlier this year, the school board agreed to remove the trays from Lincoln Elementary and replace them with reusable trays as of next fall. People can reach Kaspari at endpolystreneuse@gmail.com or at susankaspari@gmail.com.

To protect against poisonous gasses, coal miners used to bring a canary down into the mines. When the bird started to get sick, the miners knew they had to leave. Judy Hallisey pointed out that when the birds start dying, people should get worried. Hallisey quoted a study from Cornell Lab of Ornithology called “Nearly Three Billion Birds Gone.” As the name would suggest, the study showed that bird populations have greatly declined in the U.S. and Canada since 1970.

The Ellensburg Audubon Society’s mission statement is “to develop an appreciation of nature through education and conservation with a focus on birds.” The Audubon Society website kittitasaudubon.org, contains information on how Ellensburg residents can help the native bird populations.

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