Earth Day is a way to celebrate and promote earth justice. On Saturday, West Kentucky Community and Technical College officials, students and Paducah-based partners invited the community to learn about intentional and impactful sustainability practices.

With support from the Paducah Junior College Foundation, the WKCTC sustainability committee and WKCTC officials organized Earth Day activities, entertainment and educational programming at the Paducah School of Art and Design Saturday.

Amanda Balcerzak is the chairperson of the committee.

“I was really happy with how the event went. We had fantastic weather and a good group of presenters,” she said. “We had a steady flow of people coming through so, we had a chance to talk to everybody.”

She told The Sun community outreach was limited due to COVID-19 pandemic conditions. She added Easter Sunday festivities also impacted public attendance.

“With COVID, we did not know whether or not we were going to have a public event,” Balcerzak said. “We didn’t get to do a lot of the community outreach that we would typically do to draw more public participation.”

Despite minor impediments, the event brought together more than 15 presenters and vendors. It was free, and so were the giveaways. Everything from trees, seeds, and stickers was offered to participants.

“The people I spoke to were very happy and surprised about how much we had to offer,” Balcerzak said.

Spending time outdoors in nature is a way to promote mental health, a topic discussed on Earth Day.

Balcerzak said the outside benefits physical, mental and emotional health because it reduces screen time, amplifies positive thinking and requires exercise.

Looking forward, she intends to incorporate more presenters and vendors.

One modification she is exploring is implementing a hybrid model, turning the event into an indoor and outdoor showcase.

Stephanie Brogdon is a former WKCTC student. She traveled from Marshall County Saturday to participate in Earth Day and learn more about the climate, recycling, recreational areas, and other presentations.

She told The Sun she grew up in a rural environment, lending to nature and recreation.

“I grew up doing most of the stuff I saw them do,” she said. “I grew up in the country and we grew gardens every year.”

Brogdon was also motivated by the socialization component. She said it is important to interact with community members during public events. It serves behavioral and mental health.

“It is good for mental health to come and get involved with people,” Brogdon said.

Balcerzak told The Sun an initiative she would like to see carried out in the area is an investment in bike lanes and sidewalk infrastructure. She said it would enhance pedestrian mobility.

She added exploring landscape architecture and how it can redesign communities that better serve residents is a promising venture.

Balcerzak and WKCTC officials invite the community to the Pets To Destress event Thursday and the Nature Trail event Friday at the WKCTC campus. Both programs are a part of Earth Week celebrations.

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