The city of Pickerington is holding two key, but separate, environmental awareness events next week.
Arbor Day and Earth Day have dual missions in that both aim to protect the environment while promoting community stewardship of the city's valuable natural resources.
Here is a look at both of the city-sponsored celebrations:
First up is the city's Arbor Day Celebration, scheduled for 10:30 a.m., Saturday, April 19, in the Sycamore Park Arboretum.
Festivities include a flag presentation ceremony by Cub Scout Pack 256, Mayor Lee Gray's Arbor Day Proclamation, and the presentation of the 2014 Tree City USA Award by Lisa Bowers of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
In addition, local tree expert and Pickerington Parks Board member Steve Malone will give a brief talk about the "History of the Tree."
Third-grade essay contest winners from Pickerington Elementary School will be recognized by city officials Rebecca Medinger and Ed Drobina.
Medinger, who is director of Pickerington's Parks and Recreation Department, said Pickerington holds its Arbor Day festivities in order "to educate the community why trees are important and encourage them to plant and maintain trees at their homes."
This year marks the 21st time, since 1993, Pickerington will receive a Tree City Award from the Arbor Day Foundation.
"It is a pleasure to be recognized for something that the city feels is important in the community," Medinger said.
"Even if there were no award, we still strive to take good care of the trees here in Pickerington," she said.
Each year a tree is planted in the arboretum in recognition of Arbor Day. This year will feature a Burr Oak planting.
Pickerington City Councilman Brandon Ogden, a member of the City Parks and Recreation Board, said the arboretum is a wonderful asset to the community.
"I would imagine that many of our residents are unaware that the city has an arboretum," Ogden said.
"Thus, I encourage all city and township residents to attend the upcoming Arbor Day events," he said.
"This great family-friendly event will give all attendees an opportunity to experience one of the many immaculate parks that the city has to offer."
The city of Pickerington's Water Reclamation Department will present its fourth annual "Earth Day Open House" from 8:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 22, at the facility, 525 Hill Road South in Pickerington.
David Jackson, superintendent of the Water Reclamation Plant, said Earth Day presents an excellent opportunity for residents to get acquainted with one of the city's most important facilities.
"We usually start the tours in the lab and explain all the analysis we do and then take people out on a walking tour through the treatment plant," Jackson said.
People get a first-hand look at the processes involved and usually come away impressed with the plant's cleanliness and advanced technology, he said.
"We show how we clean the water before it's put back into the stream," Jackson said.
"We take them through the processes one-step at a time and show how the water is 99 percent cleaner going out than when it comes in.
"That's always a big shock to people," he said.
In addition to the tours, Jon Vandommelen of the Ohio EPA will lecture about microscopic explorations.
"He will be describing the organisms that naturally live in the water that help us treat the wastewater," Jackson said.
"These are high forms of bacteria that clean the waste, it's very similar to what's going on in your intestines."
A fly-in and informational display by the Air Evac LifeTeam 101, weather permitting, is also planned.
"It has very little to do with what we're doing but it gets people's attention," Jackson said. "They can learn a little bit about what a medical helicopter does."
Jackson said it's important that residents know just what the Water Reclamation facility does on a daily basis.
"We take wastewater from the bulk of Pickerington, remove the pollution and the harmful bacteria, clean it up and (distribute) it to Sycamore Creek," he said. "The water is as clean as we possibly can make it."
For information on the city's Earth Day festivities, call the Pickerington Water Reclamation Department at 614-837-6470.