Hundreds of people attend AFFEW’s Earth Day celebration

April 15, 2019

Hundreds of people walked through a menagerie of booths and exhibits at Ludington United Methodist Church Saturday, celebrating nature, conservation and the environment during the annual Earth Day celebration hosted by A Few Friends for the Environment of the World (AFFEW).

The event was held in anticipation of Earth Day itself, which is on Monday, April 22. AFFEW celebrated early, with a day of presentation and exhibits from wildlife experts, green businesses and organizations, environmental researchers and conservationists.

The theme was “Protect our Species,” and relevant workshops and activities were held throughout the day, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In addition to booths and exhibits from more than 20 organizations, the Earth Day celebration also featured two keynote presentations.

The first, from the Michigan United Conservation Club (MUCC) Representative Shaun Mckeon, covered hunting, fishing and natural resource protection.

The second keynote presentation focused on climate change, and was delivered by University of Michigan researchers Richard Norton and Trish Koman.

Norton and Koman talked about the impact of climate change on shoreline regions — specifically the Great Lakes — and the work state and federal scientists are doing to prepare for the potential ramifications.

Koman discussed the National Climate Assessment released in November 2018,

“It’s a report that’s required by Congress,” Koman told the Daily News. “Back when Ronald Reagan was president, they started requesting that federal scientists present information about climate change, and it talks about the various effects related to climate change.”

Koman told guests about a Building Resilience Against Climate Effects (BRACE) grant the State of Michigan has received from the Centers for Disease Control that will help affected regions address the effects of climate change.

Norton spoke about his work with shoreline management in Michigan, and how climate change has “been an exacerbating problem” with lake-level fluctuation in the Great Lakes Region.

“We’re working with state localities to better help them better adjust and improve their planning,” Norton said

AFFEW President Julia Chambers said the keynote presentations were well-received, and that Norton and Koman will return to the area for a longer workshop about climate change in collaboration with AFFEW.

John Ball Zoo was also among the exhibitors on Saturday. Tahlia Hoogerland, an instructor who teachers educational workshops about animals at schools throughout the state, brought a group of animals to the event, including a diving duck, a chinchilla, a turtle and a frog.

Hoogerland shared facts with Earth Day visitors about the animals and their habitats.

Elsewhere, Alan Wernette, Ludington State Park interpreter, showed off reptiles and amphibians common to West Michigan.

Other exhibitors included the Hamlin Lake Preservation Society; Friends of Ludington State Park; Steve Begnoche Photos; District Health Department No. 10; Old Silo & McBritton Farms; Knot Your Mama’s Crafts; Morley Chiropractic; the Petunia Parade; Kid Ranch CSA; Spectrum Health Green Team; Young Living Essential Oils; Maria Marfia Fine Art and more.

In a first for the celebration, food was served by Marva Jeanne’s Catering, owned and operated by David Lefler Ford.

Chambers said the Earth Day 2019 celebration was a success, with a solid turnout considering the many number of events occurring elsewhere in the area on the same day.

“We thought it went really well,” Chambers said. “There were probably close to 200 people, so that’s pretty good. I know there were a lot activities going on in the area.”

AFFEW is already looking forward to next year’s celebration, which will mark the 30th anniversary of AFFEW and the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

No firm plans have been made for the 2020 event yet, but Chambers said the AFFEW board wants to do something big to commemorate the occasion.

“Next year, I’d like to include more businesses and community members,” she said. “Make it something really special.”