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Thelma and Louise, Combat Center ambassador tortoises, eat lettuce during the High Desert Yucca Valley Earth Day Celebration at the Yucca Valley Community Center April 16, 2016. (Official Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Connor Hancock/Released)

Photo by Cpl. Connor Hancock

Combat Center, community celebrate Earth Day

25 Apr 2016 | Cpl. Connor Hancock Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

The Combat Center strives to serve as good stewards of the environment by incorporating, adopting and promoting progressive environmental standards and practices that demonstrate commitment to leadership in sustainable energy and environmental conservation.
In recognition of Earth Day, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs brought Combat Center environmental organizations and the local community together by organizing various Earth Day events for service members and the local populace. These events included the Annual Earth Day Mountain Bike Ride, Annual Earth Day Road Bike Criterium, Earth Day 5k Fun Run, Earth Day Extravaganza and the High Desert Yucca Valley Earth Day Celebration, which all took place April 13-16, 2016.

“The mission behind these events is to spread awareness and let people know they can make a difference,” said Chris Elliott, water resources manager, NREA. “It’s not just about any one element. It’s about making changes in our lifestyles and behavioral changes so we can affect positive results in the environment.”

The Annual Earth Day Mountain Bike Ride occurred April 13 and challenged participants to get outside and enjoy some friendly competition. Twenty-nine mountain bikers raced on an eight-mile designated trail throughout the Combat Center. The Annual Earth Day Road Bike Criterium took place the following day, at the same distance, and consisted of eight one-mile laps on 14th Street.
Participants who preferred running to raise awareness joined the Earth Day 5k Fun Run April 15 at the Desert Winds Golf Course. Pfc. Samuel Sly, assaultman, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, 7th Marine Regiment, took first place.

NREA, Marine Corps Community Services and Lincoln Military Housing hosted the Earth Day Extravaganza later that day at Lincoln Military Athletic Field and focused on educating families on conservation and setup a fun atmosphere with a petting zoo and animal rides for children.

The week wrapped up at the High Desert Yucca Valley Earth Day Celebration, where NREA worked with the community to provide outlets for community members to socialize and obtain resources on improving upon environmentally friendly lifestyles.

NREA also worked with the Morongo Unified School District to educate children on recycling as well as water and conservation. Children from Condor Elementary School and Twentynine Palms Elementary School competed in an Earth Day poster contest in which the students created posters that promoted environmental conservation. The posters were voted on during the Earth Day Extravaganza.

“We start by getting the kids involved and that translates to more adults getting involved,” Elliott said. “Ultimately, it’s the right thing to do.”

Each event allowed Combat Center patrons and community members to learn how the base works to protect local natural resources. Staff Sgt. Anthony Feliciano, imagery analyst, Unmanned Vehicle Aerial Squadron 1, said the best part of the events was raising awareness for future generations.

“It’s important for everyone to be aware of the environment, especially younger people,” Feliciano said. “My kids are really big into conservation and recycling. It’s become a lifestyle for our family.”

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms