To promote sustainability and safer environment initiatives The University of Texas -Pan American is working to achieve, the UTPA Office for Sustainability (OFS), and the Environmental Awareness Club (EAC) used a smart booth made out of recycled cardboard tubes from plotter paper for their exhibition at the Green Living Festival in McAllen.
More than 2,000 people attended the festival and many visited UTPA's exhibit. OFS and EAC representatives passed out coloring books for children. High school students found interest in what the Environmental Science degree at UTPA, in its second year running, had to offer.
"Their booth was classy. It reflected UTPA's sophistication," said Dr. Theron Francis, UTPA English lecturer. "I also like the Environmental Awareness Club, they believe in their cause."
Marianella Franklin, director of sustainability programs at UTPA, said the primary purpose of the booth was to help create awareness and help people realize that sustainability is more than just recycling and energy-saving light fixtures.
"Sustainability is a lifestyle...it encompasses everything from energy, health, economy and social behavior," said Franklin. "This is the message we want to relay and it is something we are trying to achieve at UTPA, not just for ourselves, but the community as a whole."
UTPA alumni who visited the booth, were excited to find out that the University is working to achieve a sustainable campus, Franklin said. Dr. Wendy Fowler, vice provost for research at UTPA, said she enjoyed seeing local vendors with sustainable initiatives and finding opportunities for possible collaboration with the UTPA Rapid Response Manufacturing Center. Several high school and middle school teachers also expressed interest in field trips for their students to the institution.
The Green Living Festival gave Rio Grande Valley residents an opportunity of learning what UTPA, local businesses and government agencies are doing for the area in terms of sustainability. Approximately 80 booths were available to the public with presentations on environmental safe products and services. Topics covered at the event were composting, recycling, organic gardening and creating a walk and bike friendly community.
Community members were also able to participate in a number of classes, such as yoga and dancing lessons, organic cooking and how to build rainwater barrels. All activities were free to the public.
Valley resident Albert Luis was able to enjoy this educational event with his entire family.
"My 8-year-old son was able to identify a lot of the plants he's learning in class," said Luis. "My 4-year-old daughter had fun too, she got a little butterfly painted on her cheek."
A.J. Anderson, OFS communication assistant, said the event had a great turn out with enthusiastic attendance, which made it a great opportunity to spread the news about UTPA's efforts to achieve a sustainable campus.
"UTPA is becoming a model for South Texas, while preparing its future leaders for sustainable jobs," Anderson said.
For more information on UTPA sustainability efforts visit the Office for Sustainability's website.
A special thank you goes to D. Wilson Construction Co. and Ray Urdaz from Boultinghouse Simpson Architects for providing the smart booth.