Advocates for using science and data to drive policy decisions plan to take their concerns to the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol Saturday.
The second annual March for Science happened in many states, including the nation’s Capitol, a week ago on April 14. Arkansas Sierra Club Executive Director Glenn Hooks says each march relates to the environmental issues in that state.
"Right here in Arkansas we’re looking at everything from chronic wasting disease for deer as a scientific issue, or the effects of Dicamba on our agriculture as a scientific issue, hog farms on the Buffalo River has a scientific bent, and specifically the cleanliness of our air and water here in Arkansas; making sure that we make sound choices for our state’s energy future," Hooks said.
The march in Little Rock was scheduled a week later than most in order to coordinate with Earth Day, Sunday, April 22, which the Arkansas Sierra Club is sponsoring.
Honoring science teachers and students is among the goals of this year’s march, according to Hooks. The list of speakers includes a local medical professional, a graduate student, and Katina White, Sherwood’s Educator of the Year for 2018.
“I do a lot of problem-based projects in my class and one of the main steps, the first step, is research,” said White. “When [the students] tell me ‘We think we have a solution to the problem,’ I’m like, ‘Where’s your research?’ If I’m requiring that of students it seems like we should be requiring that from our legislators as well.”
In 2017 the first Marches for Science drew thousands to Washington D.C. and a crowd of several hundred in Little Rock in response to the Trump administration’s stance on policies related to protecting the environment and the President’s opinion that climate change is a hoax. According to several reports, this year’s march in the nation’s Capitol drew a significantly smaller crowd than last year.
The event at the Arkansas State Capitol begins at 12 p.m. at the corner of of Capitol and Pulaski Street in Little Rock.
According to a Sierra Club press release, in addition to White, speakers at the Little Rock event include:
- Derya Bracy: a native of Turkey who graduated from Trakya University and is a registered nurse currently working in emergency medicine.
- Derek Brooks: holds a chemistry degree from the University of Arkansas and has worked on a range of scientific projects.
- Rachel Hendrix: a student nearing completion of her doctorate in Neurobiology and Developmental Science and is studying the relationship between type 2 diabetes and increased risk for development of Alzheimer's disease.
- Jazz Johnston, a public school teacher at the Russellville High School, where he teaches engineering.
- Izzy Jones, a junior at Jonesboro High School, where she is active in several groups.