Conway gears up for EcoFest 2010 By BY CAROLINE ZILK Staff Writer

02/28/2010 12:22

http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2010/feb/28/conway-gears-ecofest-2010-20100228/

 

Conway gears up for EcoFest 2010

Photo by David Huff / Contributing Photographer

Volunteers in a focus group at an EcoFest planning meeting discuss ideas for recycling, waste and litter. They included Ginny England, clockwise from bottom left, Elizabeth Arnold, Erick McCarthy, Travis Young, Jennifer Richardson and Lillian Petrucelli.

— Sharing seeds, organic gardening, clean coal, recycling! Debbie Plopper, organizer of Conway’s annual EcoFest, has all of these issues and more on her mind as planning begins for EcoFest 2010.

“What we’re trying to go for here is a very balanced look at the environment. It’s not a tra

ditional public event with booth

after booth,” Plopper said.

The festival will take place in

Conway’s Laurel Park on Satur

day, Sept. 11, and although the

date is months away, a group of

interested organizers and volun

teers met Monday at the Faulkner

County Library to discuss last

year’s event and how to move

forward.

Plopper said she hopes to at

tract as many people as possibleto the volunteer effort.

“That way we get a broader scope of information about the topic,” she said. “There are so many things that impact us.” Plopper said she especially hopes to attract volunteers educated about specific issues, such as Mary Beacham, office coordinator for Student Health at Hendrix College. Beacham andher husband volunteered at last year’s EcoFest at a booth about backyard gardening.

“We were just interested in promoting backyard gardening to show how easy it is,” Beacham said. “My husband made a display case for a compost, and we showed the stages of compost.”

Beacham said they encountered lots of questions at the festival last year, as well as interested children asking about worms in the dirt of the couple’s gardening display.

“We liked talking to people about gardening,” Beacham said.

She is excited about EcoFest 2010 and hopes people will gain something of value from the event.

Plopper said that according to a survey collected by a student at Hendrix last year, 55 percent of EcoFest attendees made lifestyle changes based on what they learned at the event. Seventeen percent said they were planning on making a change, and another 17percent said they were aware of environmental issues before EcoFest.

“I think those are pretty good results,” Plopper said. “It left a small percentage of people who were not impacted, but I think those are pretty good results. That is what we are shooting for.”

Plopper said her group isplanning all kinds of interactive exhibits to make the event fun for children and adults alike. She said while parents may plan on bringing their kids for some fun and games, parents will actually end up learning important and relevant information, as well as having some fun themselves.

While having fun is important, Plopper said, the biggest goal of EcoFest is education.

“We want them to be able to walk away and start to implement things that they learned here,” she said.

For more information about Conway’s EcoFest, visit www.conwayecofest.com.

- czilk@ arkansasonline.com

River Valley Ozark, Pages 135 on 02/28/2010