Hickory – The “Green” at the SALT Block will simultaneously host two events, the tenth annual Growing a Green Future event and the second annual STEM Trek! Science Festival, on Saturday, April 13.

Growing a Green Future Event: Celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday with family-friendly activities and learn about what it means to “be green” in Catawba County during the annual Growing a Green Future Earth Day/Arbor Day Celebration. The rain date for this event is Sunday, April 14, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

More than 20 civic, conservation, art, and science organizations will be represented at Growing a Green Future. These groups will provide educational information, and demonstrations, focusing on preserving the earth, supporting nature, or any environmental product, practice, or service offered in the area.

Many organizations come together to bring this event to the community, including the City of Hickory, Catawba County, Catawba Science Center, Greenway Public Transportation, Keep Catawba County Beautiful, Hickory Museum of Art, Republic Services, and the Western Piedmont Council of Governments.

The City’s CAC and Landscape Services, a division of Public Services, will be handing out tree seedlings again this year. The community is encouraged to stop by the City of Hickory’s booth to pick up a free tree seedling to plant.

Trees provide many benefits to the natural environment, including air quality improvement and the reduction of carbon in the atmosphere. Also, a healthy mature tree will increase property value and the larger the tree the higher the value. This is especially important for resale and will increase yearly as the tree grows. All of these reasons should be an incentive to plant trees. Maintaining healthy, mature trees with proper pruning, and not topping trees, not only increases the value of a property and saves money on energy costs, it also helps provide a benefit of cleaner air and reductions in storm water problems.

STEM Trek! Science Festival: STEM West and KLINGSPOR will present the second annual STEM Trek! Science Festival at Catawba Science Center and the SALT Block on Friday, April 12, and Saturday, April 13. STEM Trek! is an official event of the North Carolina Science Festival, a statewide celebration of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and its impact on North Carolina.

This year, STEM Trek! will feature a special exhibit from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Science Fair, including six carnival-style, interactive trailers: (1) Become a Neutron, (2) Extreme Science, (3) Get into Green, (4) Tiny Atoms…Big Science, (5) What’s Your Problem?, and (6) Supporting Research. STEM Trek! is one of only two sites in North Carolina to feature the ORNL Science Fair this year.

Guests of all ages will be able to tour the science fair trailers, participate in hands-on activities, and explore STEM careers and educational pathways. Local businesses, community organizations, schools, and clubs will also be in attendance to showcase their work in science, technology, engineering, and math.

April 12: From 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Friday, local school groups will tour the ORNL exhibit. Over 3,500 students from western North Carolina are already signed up to attend this interactive event to meet engineers from ORNL. From 3 p.m. until 5 p.m., home-schoolers, community groups, and after-school programs are encouraged to bring their students.

April 13: From 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturday, university, community colleges, youth groups, families, and the general public are encouraged to come visit the ORNL exhibit. That day, STEM Trek! will also feature vendor sites to educate the community about STEM careers, especially in the region. Over 25 community organizations and businesses will be in attendance to share STEM activities, skills, and careers with families.

For more information go to www.HickoryNC.gov. For additional details about STEM West programs, visit the WPCG site at www.wpcog.org/stem-west.