Story & photos by Greg Jones
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs Office
Earth Day, April 22, marked U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart’s commitment to good stewardship of environmental resources and heralded a number of Earth Day themed events in the Stuttgart military community.
In keeping with the Army’s Earth Day theme of “Sustain the Mission; Secure the Future,” the garrison’s activities focused on making better use of resources in accomplishing garrison missions and ensuring future generations understand the importance of good stewardship of natural resources.
On April 22, garrison and host nation officials met in the Panzer Heating Plant to commemorate the completion of a $9.4 million project that replaced Panzer Kaserne’s entire heat distribution system and connected it to the Böblingen hot water district heating system. This project is expected to reduce energy usage and save the garrison almost €500,000 yearly.
The USAG Stuttgart Directorate of Public Works’ Environmental Division supported the Army’s theme through educational activities at several local Department of Defense Dependents schools.
DPW’s environmental protection specialists coordinated a tree planting at Robinson Barracks Elementary/Middle School on April 23, along with a hands-on learning event that focused on the natural elements of Earth Day.
The students, ranging from third through sixth grade, rotated through three stations that taught them about soil, emphasizing that clean soil is important for the sustainability of nature, plants, insects and humans.
At the first station, students investigated soil samples using magnifying glasses. Environmental experts also provided information on plants and animals living in the soil.
At the next station, students learned about composting and how to make their own compost.
Finally, students learned about the methods used to investigate the human impact to soil and the consequences of contaminated soils. Students conducted tests on soil samples for various factors, such as permeability and pH value.
The environmental protection specialists also presented these leaning activities at Patch Elementary School April 25 and at Böblingen Elementary/Middle School April 29-30.
The Earth Day events will culminate with a school field trip to Bärensee Lake in Stuttgart May 15, a former water reservoir. Patch Elementary School first-graders will learn about drinking water, as well as animal life in the area, and will conduct a clean-up day around the lake.