Think globally, act locally at Newcastle Earth Day

April 2, 2015

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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Newcastle Earth Day Chairwoman Grace Stiller has one simple request for this year’s event — rain, please stay away.

A year after the wet stuff put a damper on the 2014 event, Stiller said she is hoping for sunshine when the festival returns to Lake Boren Park on April 18.

“All we need is a really nice day, no rain,” she said. “Last year, it dumped buckets. It was terrible.”

The city of Newcastle and the Newcastle Weed Warriors, with funding from the King Conservation District, will provide speakers, seminars and activities for Earth Day 2015 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 18.

Similar to previous years, Stiller said the event will serve, in part, to support a citywide effort to earn National Wildlife Federation Community Wildlife Habitat Certification.

To obtain the certification, residents must commit to providing food, water, cover and a place for wildlife to raise offspring. A healthy habitat can be in a variety of places, including a backyard, a local city space or even an apartment balcony.

After promoting the certification at past events, Stiller said the city as a whole is about 60 homes away from officially receiving the environmental honor.

If you go

Newcastle Earth Day

Representatives from the National Wildlife Federation will be available to register residents’ yards as a backyard wildlife habitat at the event. Children are also invited to take photos with the organization’s mascot, Ranger Rick.

“The unique thing about Newcastle and our environment is that with the habitats that people have in their yards, they’re already qualified,” Stiller said. “They’ve got trees for shelter, bushes for cover, places to raise young and putting up a birdhouse is really easy.”

New to this year’s event is a special presentation by Native American storyteller and flutist Paul “Che oke ten” Wagner.

The Newcastle Library will sponsor his noon performance that promises to transport audiences to the ancient forests, meadows and waters of the Salish Sea.

“He’s going to take us on a journey with his stories and music back to a time when we can appreciate living in harmony with nature,” Stiller said.

Another event likely to attract a crowd is a special ceremony honoring the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife’s very first Karelian bear dog, Mishka.

Karelian bear dogs, averaging 40 to 65 pounds, are instinctively bold with bears and can be trained to track, help capture and deter them from returning to places where they can get in trouble with humans.

After 12 years of service, Mishka is retiring, along with her handler, WDFW enforcement officer Bruce Richards. Western Wildlife Outreach will honor both of them with a special presentation at 1 p.m.

The Hazen High School jazz band and the Boeing Employees’ Concert Band return to provide live entertainment. Many of the popular attractions from last year, such as the amphibian-toting frog lady and the live raptor house featuring birds of prey, will also return.

Festival organizers are hoping to increase its social presence and, attract the younger generation, with an Instagram campaign.

Attendees are encouraged to take “Earth Day selfies,” or simply document your favorite part of the festival, and hashtag it #NewcastleWA on Instagram. Head to the Weed Warriors website to see the photos after the event, Stiller said.

“It’s so important because young people are our future stewards and environmental change agents,” Stiller said. “They’re the ones that are going to make a difference. We’ve got to keep them engaged, so however we can do that and get them excited about the environment and our world, is worth it.”

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One Response to “Think globally, act locally at Newcastle Earth Day”

  1. Newcastle Earth Day kickoff is Thursday : Newcastle News – News , Sports, Classifieds in Newcastle, WA on April 13th, 2015 3:00 pm

    […] Learn more about the Newcastle Earth Day festival here. […]

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