11th Annual Earth Day Environmental Justice Conference
Kent State East Liverpool is preparing for its 11th annual Environmental Justice Conference to be held April 23, from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Slak Shak in Purinton Hall.
This year’s free event will call attention to problems of watershed pollution and exotic animals, as well as featuring poetry and student research.
It is open to the public, however, RSVPis appreciated.
Water crises are becoming commonplace across the nation, as the problems in Flint, Mich., and Sebring, Ohio, show,” noted Dr. Patti Swartz, English professor and one of the event’s organizers. “If you have wondered what is in your drinking water, lakes formed by streams like those in Mill Creek Park or simply whether it is safe to fish in our local rivers, you will want to attend our Environmental Justice Conference.’
This year’s speakers include Stephanie Dyer, Angell Lipps, Brian Benton and Swartz.
Dyer is the environmental program manager and will speak about area watersheds, focusing on Mill Creek, Beaver Creek, the Mahoning River and the effect of these on the Ohio River. She will discuss ways of protecting these watersheds and how to ensure that our water is safe.
Dyer started her career in environmental planning 12 years ago with Eastgate Regional Council of Government. She has worked with the U.S. Army Corps Mahoning River ecological restoration project and the Lowellville Dam removal project.
Eastgate Regional Council of Governments is a planning and unifying agency for Mahoning, Ashtabula and Trumbull counties. Its mission is to implement planning and execution of water quality, air quality, land use and infrastructure planning to improve the quality of life for local residents.
Dyer received her degree in environmental studies from Youngstown State University. She is responsible for water quality monitoring and developed watershed action plans for the region’s drinking water watersheds. She is an active member of the Alliance for Watershed Action and Resource Education, a local watershed group in Mahoning County.
Lipps and Benton are owners of Fox & Family: Exotics, Rescue and Pet Services, a facility licensed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, as well as the USDA. They will discuss handling exotic species, focusing on healthy, happy and tame exotic animals and non-releasable ambassadors.
Fox and Family is a family organized private facility in Trumbull County that started four years ago when Lipps and Benton acquired their first skunk, Stinker Butt. Seeing a need and filling it, they then rescued foxes from fur farms. The organization now breeds and raises the red type fox as pets, zoo stock, ambassadors and educational program animals.
Lipps and Benton have acquired many rescues and animals from devastating circumstances, giving them better lives as members of their family. They support responsible exotic animal ownership.
Swartz, who has been involved with the annual conference since its beginning, will read poetry about environmental justice issues and the environment, drawing from the past when deep mining was key to West Virginia’s coal industry to current local environmental justice issues.
Her poetry has been anthologized and appeared in several literary magazines. She twice placed in the Denny Plattner Awards from Appalachian Heritage magazine and her work has appeared online in Canary: A Journal of the Environment.
Swartz believes that poetry can change people’s minds and attitudes about the natural world, helping them to become better stewards and to take greater care of the world through sparking memories that remind them of their connections to the earth.
The day-long conference begins with a continental breakfast at 8 a.m. and includes student paper sessions, online presentations and poster presentations that showcase student research.
Photo of Fox and Family Exotics handlers Angell and Brian with Stinker Butt © by Jennifer Ilene Photography