BY JAMIE MAIER
That’s the vision put forth by Piedmont Environmental Alliance (PEA)—a local non-profit that has served as the voice for the environment in the Piedmont region since 2005. You may know PEA as the host of the Piedmont Earth Day Fair, the largest Earth Day celebration and environmental education event in central North Carolina. Presented every April at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds, the Piedmont Earth Day Fair brings together as many as 10,000 people and more than 125 vendors to learn about, practice, and celebrate environmental stewardship. Mark your calendars for this year’s fair: April 21st from 10 AM-4 PM.
Today, Piedmont Environmental Alliance’s impact goes beyond their signature sustainability and community-building event. PEA educates students, builds community, and inspires action to create a healthier, more economically vibrant, and environmentally sustainable community.
PEA is a leader in environmental education, with innovative in-class presentations—Energy Explorers and Every Drop Counts—that use hands-on activities and dynamic conversations to teach math and science skills, and create citizen environmentalists with the tools to support a healthy and sustainable community. PEA provides these education programs to more than 3,500 students attending Winston-Salem Forsyth County schools each year, free of charge. Teachers and student participants agree that PEA’s programs “build young leaders who care about the community” and “give students new academic and citizenship skills.”
PEA’s Environmental Debate Program fills an important niche in the community, teaching high school students across the region the skills—including public speaking and analytical thinking—and the passion to become environmental leaders and change-makers. March 10th marks the 3rd Annual Environmental Debate Tournament hosted by PEA and Wake Forest University’s “Wake Debate.” More than 100 students from at least 10 high schools in the region will participate in the 1-day event, debating both sides of a controversial and newsworthy environmental topic.
This year, PEA launched a new strategy to bring people together and empower neighborhoods to address environmental challenges across Forsyth County—the Community Engagement Initiative. Led by public health professionals, environmentalists, and community leaders who want to see more sustainability in the region, the Initiative will identify and implement small-scale projects with big health and environmental impacts, like creating new community gardens, improving sidewalks and crosswalks, and working to reduce the use of and exposure to toxic substances. The project will also work with the City of Winston-Salem and other agencies, businesses and non-profits, to implement policies and practices to “green” the region.
Winston-Salem and Forsyth County are exciting places to live—the growth and expansion, creativity and innovation all come together to create a wonderful community. As the region grows, PEA is building the programs and partnerships that will bring environmental issues to the forefront. Working with students, government, businesses, and community leaders, PEA is creating a more holistically sustainable city—a city of arts, innovation, and the environment.
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