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May 14, 2012

Earth Day encore: Falls of the Ohio event enjoyed by many

CLARKSVILLE — Hoosiers in Southern Indiana love the earth so much they decided to celebrate Earth Day twice this this year.

While most folks marked the annual celebration of everyone’s favorite spinning blue spaceship April 22, Kentuckiana folks had Thunder Over Louisville to contend with that weekend. So Falls of the Ohio State Park postponed its Earth Day celebration a few weeks. But Earth finally got its proper fanfare from the park Saturday as crafts, kids activities and educational exhibits were the order of the day.

“I saw it in the paper and thought it would be a good family activity,” said Lita Booth, who attended the event with her husband and son.

An exhibition of bird life — which included a hawk, a falcon and an owl — was one of the displays the family enjoyed during the day, she said.

“The live birds outside — that’s a big draw,” said Bett Etenohan, chair of the Earth Day Committee, which puts the event on each year.

She and fellow committee member Mary Ann Sodrel said animal handler Jungle John was another big attraction of the day. Elsewhere, other folks greeted Smokey the Bear, used the parks’ trails or simply took in views of the Ohio River fossil bed that sits just below the park’s interpretive center.

For others at the event, it was about spreading environmentalism’s message.

Emily Goldstein, a University of Louisville junior, set up a booth to talk to visitors about plastic pollution. She brought a sample of water and grime from the Pacific Ocean’s garbage patch — an area where human refuse that gets dumped into the ocean collects.

“The fish eat [the plastic] and we eat the fish,” she said.

Though plastic pollution was the topic of the day for her, Goldstein’s better known around the metro for her work on reducing energy consumption. She’s worked with major companies — Yum! Brands, UPS and Norton Healthcare among others — to reduce electric usage. She approached them after visiting the Arctic and seeing first hand how global warming is affecting polar bears.

“I wanted to see what [the companies] were willing to do,” Goldstein said. “They were pretty receptive actually. They were willing to sit down with me.”

Her mother, Debbie Goldstein, said her efforts have saved literally tons of carbon emissions.

“She walks into these companies and says ‘I want you to use less energy’ and they do it,” she said.

The Goldsteins recommend for ideas and resources for companies and individuals looking to reduce emissions.

Sodrel and Etenohan said the annual Earth Day celebration has grown in the more than 15 years it’s been at the falls.

“It’s turned into the biggest event that we’ve done,”  Etenohan said.

Check out for more information on the park or to plan a trip.

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