EDMOND — What is thought to be the longest-running Earth Day event in Oklahoma is scheduled April 16-18 at the University of Central Oklahoma.
Tim Tillman, sustainability coordinator, and the Earth Day Committee are planning events such as a fair scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 17 along Broncho Lake.
Food will be provided by local restaurants, and arts and crafts such as “make your own trail mix bars” will be offered. Earth Day T-shirts will be for sale.
Heifer International, the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments Clean Air Committee, the Oklahoma Project Wild, Department of Environmental Quality, Sustainable Oklahoma City and other groups will be in attendance with information about environmental awareness.
Student groups will offer information about smoking cessation, litter prevention and trash pickup.
UCO's Bum-A-Bike will invite participants for snacks to celebrate the success of the program, which recently celebrated its fifth year. Mechanic Bill Harpster, of UCO's bike shop, Cycology, will do on-site bike repairs and tuneups, Tillman said.
April 16 is Park-ing Day.
“We're going to take about 20 spaces out in the visitor lot and convert them to actual parks so people can roll out their turf and have their lawn chairs and their coolers and umbrellas, sandboxes, and yeah, for the day the park-ing space is now a park,” Tillman said.
Biology professor David Bass, former chair of the Earth Day Committee, began an Earth Day program in 1985 to raise environmental awareness.
“The biology club decided to make the campus aware of the environment by setting up a table during Earth week, the week of Earth Day, where they sold plants and just simply asked for people to donate money, which they in turn would donate to a local environmental group,” Bass said.
They did that for several years, and in 1991 it became a campuswide event, he said.
Tillman took over this year as committee chairman.
“He enthusiastically accepted the opportunity to run the program,” Bass said. “I felt really good. I was handing it off to somebody I knew would take care of it.”
The idea for Bum-A-Bike came in late 2007 when Tillman was visiting Flatire Burgers.
“The manager was complaining because a lot of his employees were students, and what would happen is they'd be late for work because either they didn't want to move their car out of their housing spot and lose their space or they were driving a junker and it broke down, so there was just a constant issue with getting his employees to work,” Tillman said.
“And he said, ‘Man, if I could just give them all bicycles.'”
The result was Bum-A-Bike, a program where UCO students, staff and faculty can check out a bike for a two-week period to ride on campus.
At the end of the two weeks, if they want to continue the rental, they can do so if there is not a waiting list.
Meanwhile, in the course of getting Bum-A-Bike up and running, the sustainability coordinator position was vacant for about a year and a half.
“They asked me if I wanted it because it fits in very well with public transit, pedestrian, bicycle issues, all these things are a part of sustainability, so here I am,” he said.