Dirt, bugs and teamwork were all up for discussion at the Goddard Center last Thursday.

Keep Oklahoma Beautiful, a statewide nonprofit focused on fighting litter and educating Oklahomans, brought a workshop to the Goddard Center. Ardmore Beautification Council, an affiliate of the organization, hosted the event.
Executive Director Jeanette Nance said the organization holds multiple workshops a year. 

“Currently we’re running several programs,” Nance said. “Fall is really busy in our office.”

This time of year, they’re busy with litter education programs in public schools. Uncapped, an elementary program, Upcycled, a middle school program, and a litter education video contest for high schools and colleges.

Several speakers presented during the workshop. Tom Mills, who produces Youtube videos about sustainability, covers small DIY projects as well as long-form educational videos. Mills recently teamed up with KOB to produce videos specifically for them.

“People see us, sometimes, as fanatics, but we really just care,” Mills said.

Mills’ videos cover composting, recycling, gardening and waste reduction. Some of his advice includes using black soldier fly larvae as composting worms, placing greenhouses below ground level to protect them from cold winter temperatures and recycling discarded tires.

Jeri Fleming, Assistant Director and Outreach & Education Coordinator for the Oklahoma Water Survey, gave a presentation about rain gardens and low impact development.

“You don’t need 60 inches of rainwater to sustain yourself for a year,” Fleming said. “Low development basically mimics a site’s pre-development hydrology, so instead of all that water running off, we’re going to have it slow down and store it, evaporate it, keep it close to the source.”

Low impact development incorporates things like previous pavements that allow water to absorb into the ground, green roofs with plants growing on them and strategically placed ditches that help collect rainwater.

She said water flowing into streams and rivers causes flooding, but also poses an environmental risk when pollutants are swept into water sources. A city with more paved surfaces and roofs will give rain less of a chance to absorb back into the ground. Collecting rainwater, she said, is another effective way to combat the issue.

“Sometimes you’ll see, on the side of the road, a little ditch with cattails growing out of it,” Fleming said. “That’s actually helping to treat the water that flows in off of the highway.”

Cecile Carson, former Keep America Beautiful vice president of litter and affiliate relations, spoke about the affiliate program. She said in her time with Keep America Beautiful, she’s seen a cultural shift in the way people think of environmental issues.

“There’s a lot more that people think about,” Carson said. “We talked about the ocean gyre that has plastic in it. People are now beginning to think about the fact that this can break down in our oceans and create totally different things.”

She said reusable bags and containers have proven more popular than they were even five years ago.

“We get a lot of sort of flash news about the environment and sometimes that’s challenging,” Carson said. “Things move so fast… You do occasionally get a little overwhelmed.”