Written by Jessica McCool, UNITY Earth Ambassador and UNITY 25 Under 25 Award Recipient
earth day 9For my Earth Day project, I helped to coordinate an Earth Day event with the Environmental Department I work for on the reservation to help spread awareness on these Earth-related issues. A lot of planning and organizing went into this. We had to pick a date that would be best to have it on, a place to have it (somewhere where it was most accessible to our target audience), activities that would be held there, food, and vendors.

earth day 12The event took place on April 23rd on the Elder’s Lawn on the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians reservation. There were many vendors including the local zoo, an emergency services booth, our culture and language department, education department, environmental department, a tribal member’s food truck, voting booth, and many others focusing on the issues we face regarding climate change, extinction, waste, global warming, and water conservation. Each booth had a fun and interactive activity for all ages. We also hired a guitarist for live music as a form of entertainment. We offered activities that also promoted being active such as our nature walk around the reservation where we looked for and identified native plants, a trash cleanup, and planting of some trees. To make the day more fun, we added in raffle prizes for people to win who were purchased by the Santa Ynez Chumash Environmental Department and donated by businesses in the valley we live in. Each person who registered got a raffle ticket and had chances to get more throughout the day by participating in events or filling out a survey. We also had water stations set up on the lawn that were built by the environmental department offering clean drinking water. There was a wall with a canvas sheet over it with paints where people could sign their name or paint a picture showing everyone their support and pledge to protect Mother Earth. A sorting wall was also displayed for e-waste such as lightbulbs, batteries, and their appliances like televisions or cell phones. The event was open to all community members, not just tribal, and admission was free!

earth day 2Although I was very lucky to have been offered a grant by UNITY, we did not utilize it because the environmental department paid for it all with a grant. It was a very successful day with about 200 attendees. I feel like everyone had a takeaway whether it was knowledge of a native plant, waste awareness, water conservation, or on ways to be more environmentally aware.