By Jen Treacy
For the Optic
The 10th annual SynergyFest will take a new direction this year under the debut sponsorship of the New Mexico Highlands University Conservation Club.
The event, slated for Saturday, was created by the now-defunct NMHU Sustainability Club. This change in hosts will cause a subtle shift from information on sustainable practices to educational activities and exhibits promoting conservation practices.
Solar panels will power the event and porta-potties will be available to conserve water. In previous years a solar oven has also been available to bake cookies.
“Synergy is the effect of multiple energies combining to form a whole greater than the sum of its parts,” said Deisy Hernandez, the vice president of Conservation Club.
Similarly, SynergyFest is more than an event; it is a way of connecting with the community for the common goal of being reminded of the importance of the environment and the effect human beings have on its balance, organizers say.
SynergyFest aims to teach people, especially youth, about renewable energy, local commerce and food production. Booths will focus on the importance of recycling and composting, watersheds, man’s role in the extinction of animals, and one booth will teach participants to make a birdfeeder from recycled items. The NMHU Chemistry Club will also have a booth featuring henna and selling starter seeds. Henna is a flowering plant often used to make temporary tattoos.
This year there will be fewer booths selling sustainable living products to make way for educational booths.
Snacks like cotton candy and ice cream will be available from Andrea’s Concession, and the NMHU Performing Arts Club will have a booth where kids can decorate sugar cookies for free.
New events this year include a 5K run and an art competition. Beginning at 11 a.m., participants can run for $15. The proceeds will go toward building a botanical garden for Highlands, which will be located behind Sininger Hall, above the art foundry. The run begins at Central Park and goes around town from the Plaza to Carnegie Library before looping back to Central Park, said Cinthia Lopez, secretary for the Conservation Club.
The art competition is accepting submissions in the form of photographs, sculptures, paintings and drawings that have an environmental or conservation focus. Attendees will vote on the submissions based on how they exemplify the ideals of conservation, and the top winners will take home $100, $75 and $50, respectively.
Toward the end of the event, a raffle drawing will be held. Tickets are $1 each, and among the donated prizes are a wildlife saw blade clock from Ernest Trujillo and a $40 gift certificate to El Fidel.
SynergyFest will also feature performances by local bands and the NMHU Mariachi group, as well as a puppet show by Ken Karter at noon. After the puppet show, various speakers will talk about energy concepts.
“Conservation is broad, from plants to wildlife to recycling,” said Conservation Club president Juan Jauregui, who wants to broaden the event to reach a larger crowd. With many officers graduating this spring, he hopes the event will spark an interest in conservation and the club on campus.
Though the event is hosted by the Conservation Club, it is primarily funded by Sustainable Las Vegas, the local chapter of the New Mexico Solar Energy Association.
SynergyFest is free and open to the public. It will be held at Central Park on the Highlands campus from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday. For more information, visit synergyfest.com.