With more than 40 vendors offering Earth Day crafts, resources and earth-saving tips, over 600 visitors to Soboba’s 17th annual Earth Day celebration on April 20 were given much to think about. Organized by the Soboba Tribal Environmental Department, STED Environmental Director Christian Aceves said, “We extended our reach in the region and found a lot of people who are dedicated to the community and wanted to share their resources.”
Some of the youngest earth dwellers, students from the Soboba Tribal Preschool, made musical instruments from recycled materials and paraded through the Sports Complex outdoor area where the event was set up.
Teacher Ponie Mojado said the children fashioned tambourines from two paper plates sealed with pinto beans inside and then colored. Some of the students, who range in age from two through kindergarten, cleverly filled plastic eggs with pinto beans and then placed the eggs between two plastic spoons. After taping the handles together, it formed a rattle. Still others made rattles from empty toilet paper tubes filled with beans and taped up on both ends.
Shaking their instruments to “I Love My Planet (The Earth Song)” they learned, proud parents videotaped and photographed the budding musicians who learned an important lesson about recycling. Aceves said this was definitely his favorite part of the whole event.
“Getting the youth involved is always an achievement because they are the next generation that will play a pivotal part in environmental stewardship,” he said.
Students at Noli Indian School, which serves sixth through twelfth grades, used their science class time to create posters that matched this year’s Earth Day theme of “Invest in Our Planet.” Each visitor at the event was given a voting dot upon check-in to place in front of their choice for favorite poster.
Noli science teachers Jay Dagostino and Sabrina Sobel tied the project into their lesson plans on Ecology. “I liked the creative art mixed with science and community involvement,” Dagostino said. Aceves said the class that created the winning poster will be treated to a pizza party, courtesy of STED. The second-place class will receive an ice-cream party.
Junior Nataly Lemus worked with two other classmates to create the “Help Save the Earth” poster that stresses reduce, reuse and recycle. “We collaborated on the whole design and then I put it together,” she said. Nataly made tree “leaves” out of pieces of green plastic soda bottles.
Seniors Sienna Goff and Bella Resvaloso, along with sophomore Jacklyn Ramirez, created their poster during chemistry class. Their artfully crafted message offered ways to help save the earth – use less water, plant more trees and stop pollution. The earth was shown as green and vital on one side where nature was key and the other half as brown and polluted where factories and poor air quality prevailed.
Sixth-grade students pointed out that if we don’t invest in our planet now, we might not have one to live on 20 years from now. They wrote, “If we don’t protect our environment and animals, future generations won’t be able to enjoy it.” A list of possible solutions included carpooling, planting more plants, turning off lights when not in a room and using cooling and heating systems less.
Another poster read, “Investing in our planet is important for our future because without our planet, there is no future. A healthy planet isn’t an option, it’s a necessity.”
Members of the Soboba Foundation, Tribal Council and Tribal Executive Offices are looking ahead to summer’s outdoor activities and provided water pool toys and kites to guests. Marketing team associates from Soboba Casino Resort had a fun watercolor craft for all ages. The younger artists were impressed with the “magic” that took place when Cheyanna Perez sprayed water on the paper plate they colored with blue and green markers to create a muted “earthy” masterpiece.
There was information on electric cars and solar energy. GRID Alternatives and ONYX Power shared details about the current solar back-up project they have at Soboba. Current Home focuses on residential solar projects and offered games for the children who attended.
Jonathan Reinig, the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority Reserve Manager, and Jonathan Marin with Riverside County Transportation Commission tag teamed discussions about land and wildlife habitat conservation. “We have 146 species in Western Riverside County and 34 are considered threatened or endangered,” Reinig said.
Climate Science Alliance and Inland Empire Waterkeeper nonprofits have programs geared towards youth and showed them how they could get involved. River KATS (Kids Activism Through Science) is a program that offers workshops and field trips to teach children firsthand about watershed.
The Soboba Fire Department had a booth where they shared the importance of signing up for wildfire alerts and things that can be done to mitigate damage to homes and other property as fire season approaches. There were also plastic firefighter helmets in pink or black for the young children as well as crayons, a coloring puzzle and more.
The Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians gave a demonstration of a do-it-yourself water filter and representatives from the Sierra Club, Master Gardeners, the Forest Service Volunteer Association and other agencies shared hints on protecting wildlife, preserving resources and investing in our planet.
Southern California Edison Community Crew members Torrie Brandon and Jose Soto, who work with vegetation management, were passing out potted plant starters for those that wanted them while also sharing the important job SCE does in making sure trees are kept trimmed away from power lines. To learn which tree species are utility friendly, contact firstname.lastname@example.org before planting.
Trequitta Jennings and other members of the SCE Community Outreach Team gave away resiliency kits, explained ways to be energy efficient and how to sign up for the service that sends out alerts regarding power outages and other informative messages. To sign up, visit sce.com/outagealerts.
Hosea Jones and Taylor Hart with CalFresh talked to guests about eating healthy by growing fruits and vegetables, such as celery.
The Cultural Resource Department’s cultural garden is going strong and members shared fresh produce from the Soboba Indian Reservation garden. Other department representatives shared the importance of pollinators to help bees. They offered seeded pots of the types of flowers enjoyed by bees, bee-shaped bookmarks and a list of the native plants at the reservation that bees like: black sage, brittlebush, buckwheat, chia, cottonwood, elderberry, sagebrush, sycamore, white sage and yerba santa.
They shared that we should invest in our planet with native plants, those that occur naturally in a region in which they evolved. They are the ecological basis upon which all life depends. To learn more about the native plant species in your region, visit https://calscape.org. They further explained the benefits of native plants, such as promoting biodiversity by providing shelter and food for wildlife, supporting pollinators, reducing the carbon footprint while minimizing pollution as they require little to no maintenance, saving water since native plants are able to sustain themselves and controlling erosion due to their strong, deep and varying root lengths.
Mike Perez with the Riverside County Department of Waste Resources shared the many ways people can learn how to recycle and be more eco-friendly. Free in-person and virtual classes about composting, sustainable landscaping and zero waste are just a few that are available through www.rcwaste.org.
“We teach people how to keep things out of the trash that don’t belong there,” Perez said. He started out as a volunteer in 2017 and is now Volunteer Services Coordinator. “We also offer the longest-running composting class (since 1996) and the biggest one is the state.”
With the help of more than 10 volunteers, although they are always recruiting more, Perez said they work with schools and attend many community events, such as this one, to help educate others on the importance of recycling and how to do it properly.
Guests were also treated to a raffle ticket for some great prizes, a free cup of Kona Ice and a meal ticket for the In-n-Out food truck.
Aceves said the most beneficial thing the average person can do today to make a great impact in the future is to adopt sustainable practices. This can include carpooling, recycling, limiting single use plastic, reducing water use and many more.
“Adopting sustainable practices into your everyday life may not seem like a great impact but over time these practices really add up,” he said. “The environment rarely changes overnight; it’s the small changes over time that often make the biggest impact.”
Photos courtesy of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians