Ardmore got the chance to revisit the old and learn about the new at the annual Earth First Expo on Saturday.
The expo brings together experts on the environment, water, wildlife and agriculture as well as local vendors and organizations, all in the name of teaching visitors about recycling, up-cycling and how to grow plants at home. Ardmore Beautification Council Executive Director Julie Maher said the council moved the event indoors this year after last year’s was rained out.  
“Of course it’s raining today, but we had a really wonderful turnout,” Maher said.
Speakers from Keep Oklahoma Beautiful, Carter County EMS, Oklahoma Water Survey, Ardmore Animal Shelter and Noble Research Institute took the stage to discuss their areas of expertise.
“They all spoke about pertinent issues, and how to do good things for the environment,” Maher said. “It’s taking care of each other, taking care of the environment, and we all have to work together.”
Oklahoma Recycling Association joined the proceedings this year as well.
“We’re really happy to have them here, because we do have a lot of people asking about recycling and how the city of Ardmore does
recycling,” Maher said. “We think that’s a very pertinent and positive issue here in southern Oklahoma.”
This year, Oklahoma State University’s Insect Adventure was able to attend as well. Andrine Shufran, an associate extension education specialist and the director of the Insect Adventure, said the insects she brings to events like these are sensitive to cold and humidity.
“We came about five or six years ago, but it was pouring down rain then, too,” Shufran said. “So, we stayed for half an hour, turned around and went right back home.”
Guests were invited to look at displays of butterflies, moths and countless other insects in plastic cases and touch live insects like beetles, walking sticks and scorpions on the display table. Shufran said people are often nervous around the flat rock scorpion on display, though the bug has a mellow disposition.
“Kids are not born afraid of bugs,” Shufran said. “Bugs are so much smaller. There’s no instinctual fear, but it does not take much.”
She said watching a parent’s reaction can be enough to instill a fear of insects in children.
“It’s not something that is innate, it has to be taught,” Shufran said. “You have to teach a child to be scared of something that’s an inch long.”
Noble Research Institute attended with a Plant A Strawberry workstation geared toward children.
Steve Upson, a horticulture consultant with Noble Research Institute, said kids could fill a small pot with soil and plant their own field-dug strawberry plant.
“The idea is to promote local food production and food security, enjoying working together and being outside,” Upson said.
After the planting, volunteers gave each child instructions for taking care of the plant at home. Upson said while Oklahoma is a smaller, rural state, plenty of children still grow up without a concrete idea of where their food comes from.
“It would surprise you,” Upson said. “We get kids coming in that don’t know the difference between a shoot and a root, and so there’s a lot of education that can still take place.”
Plenty of vendors with an eco-friendly bent attended as well. Hayley Mullins, founder of Love Story Cosmetics, brought a display table of her homemade soy-based candles in recycled glass jars, and cosmetics.
She said she was inspired to start making her own products after bad experiences with store-bought ones.
“I started modeling a while back, and I found myself with makeup on my face way more than I usually would,” Mullins said. “I was having adverse reactions to it, so I started looking into the ingredients.”
She said she’s new to the expo, but when she saw the event on Facebook she knew she’d be in good company.
“I loved it,” Mullins said. “These are my people.”