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Claire Doyle smiled when a group of children approached her table to learn more about Rubie, a stuffed King Charles spaniel, which helps youngsters learn how to recycle in western Queens.
It was a microcosm of what Saturday’s Going Green in Queens 2012 conference was all about.
“It’s important to educate the kids,” Doyle, Rubie’s human assistant, said. “They’re the next generation of recyclers.”
Tables similar to Doyle’s lined the inside of the Al Oerter Recreational Center in Flushing last weekend so various groups could gather and network for the betterment of their environment. The seventh annual event aimed to share ideas and inspire Queens residents to help live a greener lifestyle, according to organizer and Queens Coalition for Parks President Fred Kress.
“It’s like a trade show to get people to meet, network and maybe even copy each other,” Kress said. “We hope people get the message to take care of their area and be part of a greater effort.”
Kress said nearly 500 Queens residents responded to invitations for the networking event, sponsored by TimesLedger Newspapers and various Queens environmental groups, and the crowd inside the Al Oerter Recreational Center was as diverse as the county it resides in.
Laurie Kaufman, from Forest Hills, scoped out the different tables with her three children and said she hoped an environmental message would resonate.
“We like to be green as a family,” Kaufman said. “I think everyone can make a difference and it’s important to have events like this to educate people.”
Kaufman said she launched her own environmentally focused Earth Day Fair, scheduled for April 28 at PS 101, at 2 Russell Place in Forest Hills, at noon.
City Parks Commissioner Adriane Benepe patrolled the room, visiting different environmental organizations throughout. He said he wanted to help residents get involved with their local parks and the annual event was a more ceremonial experience to mark the beginning of spring.
“It’s like a gathering of a tribe of park lovers,” Benepe said. “These are the people who make parks as good as they are. Their work is more important now than ever.”
Dan Hendrick sat at the New York League of Conservation Voters table and said the response was encouraging throughout the afternoon.
“This is one of the best events of the year,” Hendrick said. “Queens grows a little bit every year and something like this can bring together a strong community on environmental issues.”
Across the room, Jules Corkery, of the Astoria Park Alliance, invited residents to evaluate the event while putting their own green ideas on a map of Queens, such as more community-based recycling centers.
And from a solar light bulb display to a conversation on conservation, event organizers said they were happy with the turnout.
“Hopefully, we can inspire people to join groups or donate,” Kress said. “It’s a win-win for everybody because we all can learn while maybe motivating others to do something on their part of the planet.”
Next year’s Going Green event has already been set, according to Kress, with a scheduled date of March 23.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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