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In support of Earth Day MCAS Yuma takes local action for a global reach

By Lance Cpl. Reba James | | April 26, 2013

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Marine Corps Air Station Yuma’s Environmental Department organized a week-long celebration in support and recognition of Earth Day as a part of the local community effort. Earth Day is recognized annually on April 22, and the Marine Corp’s Earth Day theme for 2013 is “Global Reach, Local Action.”

The festivities kicked off on Monday and went through the week with the final event on Thursday. Events were scheduled every day to raise awareness and support for Earth Day throughout the community. Each event was made available to the MCAS Yuma community by the Environmental Department, so station personnel and their families could take part in “Global Reach, Local Action.”

“We are here to make people aware of the environment, and their responsibility to keep it clean and usable to continue training and to be war fighters,” said Bill Shepherd, an Environmental Specialist at the MCAS Yuma’s Environmental Department and the lead organizer of the Earth Day celebration and native of Yuma, Ariz.

As the nations “911” expeditionary fighting force, the Marines must recognize the direct and indirect impact they make on our environment and local community, since this will affect how well we can train and operate. If we uphold our global responsibilities and ensure we are environmentally conscious, Marines will continue to train and defend our interests, and maintain readiness to operate as a fighting force.

The efforts of each individual to be environmentally conscious allows Marines to continue to train, keeping the Marines here at MCAS Yuma ready to operate throughout the globe.

For example, the Earth Day celebration began with MCAS Yuma’s commanding officer Col. Robert Kuckuk presenting Gunnery Sgt. Rene Hernandez, a Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 environmental compliance officer and native of Lockhart, Texas, with an award and challenge coin. The award was presented to him for his eco-conscious recycling efforts in his squadron, where he categorized and sorted over 3,000 hazardous materials as a part of the station-wide recycling program.

Shortly thereafter, a recycled flower pot and airplane making event took place at the station Youth Center on April 22.

“The kids got to make airplanes out of recycled material and the kids got to fly them,” said Shepherd, about the youth center activities the Environmental Department was involved in.

“The Marigolds were very popular,” added Jerry McCluskey, a Storm Water Manager with MCAS Yuma’s Environmental Department and native of Eureka, Calif., about making flower pots out of recycled plastic from Gatorade bottles at the youth event for children.

Other events hosted by MCAS Yuma’s Environmental Department during the week in recognition of Earth Day included the Palo Verde Street clean up on April 23, the fifth annual 5k run, that kicked off at the station gym on April 24, and station personnel and volunteers assisted children to plant flower and vegetable seeds at the station’s Child Development Center (CDC) as the final event on April 25.

Despite current fiscal constraints, MCAS Yuma’s Environmental Department pulled together events for the week that units and individuals and their families could participate in, which were at little or no cost.

These events included the Palo Verde Street clean up, the 5th annual 5k run, and the youth center and child development center activities, which also raised awareness for our global responsibility to the environment.

“The 5K run was great this year, although we are cutting back because of funding, we still had great support,” said McCluskey. “We have a good base community.”

“We had a lot more runners participate than previous years,” said Shepherd. “We try to include the Marines by inviting them to the events we have for Earth Day, such as the 5k and picking up trash.”

“The base and the Marines are supportive and onboard with doing the right thing,” said Shepherd about pulling together the week long events and its affect on the MCAS Yuma community.

“Everyone from the CO [MCAS Yuma commanding officer Col. Robert Kuckuk] down has been environmentally proactive,” said McCluskey about programs and events promoting environmental protection and enforcement that have been readily accepted by the MCAS Yuma community.

Examples of year round programs that the station’s Environmental Department provide are storm water guidelines for MCAS Yuma, regulating water quality on base and overseeing the industrial aspect of keeping the environment safe and the construction of “green” buildings.

“We continue to do a lot by watching over our programs, meeting the regulatory laws, and making sure the base follows the guidelines that are out there,” said Shepherd. “Just like anyone else, we can get fined for not following regulations.”

All in all, as MCAS Yuma’s community continues to live, train and operate aboard the station, the importance of recognizing the impact we have on the environment should be high on our list of priorities. We should constantly consider what measures can be taken to reduce negative impacts on the environment, and acknowledge the responsibility of being stewards of the earth.

Earth Day is a day to reflect on our presence and the responsibilities and obligation we have to protect our nation, “in the air, on land, and sea.”

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