From the Executive Director
For more than 26 years, DEQ has worked tirelessly to protect and restore Oklahoma’s natural beauty. We achieve our mission through permitting, inspecting, investigating, and monitoring activities in various programs, but we also carry out our work in a number of ways beyond enforcing environmental laws and regulations.
In keeping with our mission to protect Oklahoma’s environment, DEQ staff is ever vigilant for opportunities to encourage recycling. The Festival of the Arts, Redman Triathlon, Memorial Marathon, and Woody Guthrie Festival are huge events, but for many years recycling options did not exist. When DEQ was approached by event organizers to help set up recycling options, DEQ staff jumped at the opportunity. Now, in addition to listening to good music, perusing beautiful artwork, or running with the best, event participants can help keep Oklahoma beautiful with the assistance of DEQ staff who volunteer many hours to help with recycling behind-the-scenes. We have collected nearly four tons of recyclable materials over the past few years!
With schools across the state now back in session, our Environmental Education program is back in full swing. DEQ is an active participant in the Oklahoma Green Schools Program, which has a mission to “educate and empower Oklahoma students and teachers to make a difference in their schools and communities through an increased understanding of environmental issues leading to stewardship of resources and personal responsibility.” Last school year, 36 schools across Oklahoma participated in the program. One large school district even contacted DEQ about getting all of its schools into the Green Schools Program – a huge undertaking that will provide many benefits to that district!
In addition, for many schools in Oklahoma, the H2Oklahoma Festival is a must-attend event. DEQ coordinates this event each year with other agencies, such as the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, Department of Wildlife Conservation, Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry, and the Conservation Commission. This annual event is held at different locations across Oklahoma and features a number of stations where elementary school children from the local area can learn about environmental protection in hands-on and fun, but informative ways. This year, the festival will be held at Perry CCC Lake.
Each spring, DEQ partners with other state agencies, businesses, and non-profit organizations for ScienceFest, a day of interactive activities, exhibits, and presentations for 4th and 5th graders. The focus of ScienceFest is to show how science, technology, engineering and math are related to environmental conservation and alternative energies. As with the other events, DEQ staff not only participate directly in the event, but coordinate recycling to help show students how easy it can be to recycle.
These are just a few examples of ways our staff go beyond their primary duties to help keep Oklahoma’s environment clean and educate our citizens about the importance of protecting our precious air, land, and water resources. I could not be more proud to have such a dedicated workforce taking time from their already-busy schedules to volunteer for these efforts.