Earth Day Texas

From April 21-23, we had the incredible privilege of participating in Earth Day Texas, the largest Earth Day event in the world. With over 850 exhibitors and 150,000 attendees, it was truly an epic celebration of the Earth and all its beauty and diversity. The event was divided into six major areas of focus: home, health, and active lifestyle; academic, culture, and community; technology and innovation; natural resources and conservation; policy and industry; and children and family. With so many options to choose from, there was something for everyone.

BCI's outreach and development coordinator Jessie Jory inspires future conservationists at BCI's booth; Photo Credit: Bonobo Conservation Initiative
BCI’s outreach and development coordinator
Jessie Jory inspires future conservationists
at BCI’s booth. Photo Credit: Bonobo
Conservation Initiative

In addition to the hundreds of booths, there was a full schedule of presentations. Over 200 expert presenters shared their knowledge with the eager crowds at a variety of speaking events. BCI’s founder, Sally Jewell Coxe, spoke at the Evergreen Banquet and on a panel titled “Rainforests Revisited.” She was joined by eminent conservationists such as George Wallace of Rainforest Trust and Brett Byers of Million Acre Pledge. During her talks, she fielded questions about forest conservation and threats to bonobos.

While Sally was speaking on panels, our outreach and development coordinator, Jessie Jory, “womanned” the BCI booth. She answered questions, handed out materials, and helped educate thousands of passersby about bonobos. Her work started well before the event itself. In the weeks leading up to Earth Day, she facilitated the efforts of the AP Environmental Science class at South Grand Prairie High School in Grand Prairie, TX. The class did a unit about bonobos based on BCI’s Teacher Resources. Jessie did a Skype interview with the students as well as working directly with their instructor. Thanks to their studies, the students were able to set up their own booth about bonobos, offering quizzes on bonobo facts and bonobo masks for children (drawn by one of the students!).

Speaking at the Evergreen Banquet, BCI president Sally Jewell Coxe enlightens guests about bonobos and how BCI works with local communities to protect the Congo rainforest; Photo credit: Earth Day Texas
Speaking at the Evergreen Banquet, BCI president Sally Jewell
Coxe enlightens guests about bonobos and how BCI works with
local communities to protect the Congo rainforest
Photo credit: Earth Day Texas

And that’s not all! Jessie also collaborated with the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas to help the girls earn their “communi-tree” badges. The Scouts did a scavenger hunt throughout the grounds, visiting the booths of participating organizations. At each booth, they got to engage in a special activity and get a stamp on their map for completing the activity successfully. At the BCI booth, Jessie gave each Scout an introductory speech about bonobos. Then each Scout either wrote down what they found most interesting about bonobos or what they could personally do to help bonobos. They wrote their ideas on recyclable paper leaves that were then attached to the branches of a fabric tree in our booth. At the end of the weekend, the branches were filled with over 200 leaves! We hope that the fullness of the tree is a symbol of good things to come as we work to inspire the next generation of conservationists.

South Grand Prairie High School students spreading the word about bonobos; Photo Credit: Bonobo Conservation Initiative
South Grand Prairie High School students spreading the word
about bonobos; Photo Credit: Bonobo Conservation Initiative

We are so grateful to the organizers of Earth Day Texas and to its founder, Trammell S. Crow. Most of all, we are grateful to the attendees who came together to celebrate this beautiful planet we call home.