Cameron Park Zoo hosts vendors to bring sustainability awareness

Students for Environmental and Wildlife Protection set up their booth at Cameron Park Zoo for Sustainable September. Olivia Havre | Photographer

By Mykah Briscoe | Reporter

Cameron Park Zoo hosted its Sustainable September event Tuesday. It was a free after-hours event in which vendors from the community were invited to set up a table and talk to guests “about how they promote green initiatives in Waco,” the Cameron Park Zoo website said.

The Zoo also provided guests with free merchandise such as a tote bag, T-shirt and water bottle.

“We want to show our community that different organizations are taking steps to be greener,” Holley Day, the education coordinator for Cameron Park Zoo, said.

She said they also want to provide information as well as access to the organizations.

The array of vendors included Baylor student organizations like Students for Environmental and Wildlife Protection, local Waco organizations like The World Hunger Relief Farm and even some statewide organizations like Texas Land Conservancy — all bringing awareness to a different aspect of sustainability and a way to get involved.

Waco residents Emily and Tyler Rostagno said they came to the event because of their love for the world and the environment.

“We didn’t know about a few of the sustainable things happening around this area,” Tyler said. “So it was fun to come to a place that they were able to get their voice out and get some information to people.”

Baylor student organizations had a large presence at the event, wanting to reach the community as well as younger generations.

“We want to start kids at a young age realizing that they can make a difference even if it’s like a small change,” San Diego senior Erin Lynes, president of the Wells Project club at Baylor, said.

There were also student organizations that were only recently chartered. The Students for Environmental Equity club was only established in the last year and came to the event to spread awareness on environmental health, Houston senior Isha Thapar, president of the club, said.

“I think the main thing is that anyone can get involved in environmental health policy because these decisions impact all of us,” Thapar said.

Day said she believes students are able to practice sustainability during their time at school, such as by joining an organization.

“A big thing about sustainability is that it feels like it’s all or nothing, and there are small things that students can do,” Day said.

Most of the organizations have social media accounts to spread awareness.

“We’re always asking people, you know, if you see something that you agree with, that you care about, share it — spread the word because you can do that,” Amber Arseneaux, the North Texas program director for the Texas Land Conservancy, said. “It really kind of pushes it out to the digital world.”

Cameron Park Zoo has events throughout the year in which it supports the conservation of different animals, such as Rhino Day on Saturday and Croctober for crocodile conservation in October.

“Our community is taking this seriously and that this is becoming a priority for different organizations and that the zoo is hopefully leading by example,” Day said. “We want to make sure that we are carrying that conversation.”