BECQ resumes in-person expo for fifth graders

Posted on Apr 20 2022


After doing it online last year and not having one in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality finally resumed its in-person Annual Environmental Expo yesterday at the NMI Museum grounds from 8:30am to 11:30am, as the first of a two-day expo.

The expo, which is held every April as part of the celebration of Environmental Awareness Month, is intended for fifth grade students from nine elementary schools, which consist of three private schools and six public schools. The first half of the schools went yesterday and the second half is scheduled for today.

The expo included 14 exhibitors from the Northern Marianas College CREES Aquaculture, Mariana Islands Nature Alliance, U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service, U.S. National Park Service – American Memorial Park,  Department of Lands and Natural Resources, Pacific Bird Conservation and Avifauna Conservation and, for the first time, Friends of the Marianas Trench, and CNMI Zoning.

Both BECQ’s divisions—the Coastal Resource Management and the Division of Environmental Quality—were present to showcase their various programs and share how each department works in preserving the environment and how important it is to keep the environment clean for their health and the health of future generations.

Justin Agustines, an NMC Education practicum student and chaperone of William S. Reyes Elementary School fifth grade students, said the students were interested in the expo “especially since it’s related to the community, I guess they feel a sense of place,” He said the expo also gives the students “a direction and know where to go. I feel like it’s…an encouragement for them to continue with their recycling activity they have at school and maybe someone will find interest in this environmental field and work in this career one day.”

DEQ director Zabrina Cruz said that parents and teachers were surveyed on whether or not they will allow students to attend the expo and that “they were willing for face to face as long as all protocols are followed and it’s outdoors.”

The first day’s turn out, Cruz said, “was such a success. We’re happy to be out here again and hopefully everything stays good and just keeps getting better with the pandemic so we can continue doing our [expo] face to face.”

Cruz thanked the NMI Museum for letting BECQ use the venue and facilities, and to “all of our exhibitors and teachers for submitting their registration and being a big help.

“We were so happy to see that teachers and parents were willing to have their kids participate in the face to face [event]. It just goes to show that, as a community, we feel safer.…If the survey results had not been so good, we would totally go to a virtual platform,” said Cruz. “But of course, online is not as great as in person, where the students and teachers as well can take a break from the classroom and learn outdoors.”

The Islandwide Cleanup on April 22 and 23 will wrap up Environmental Awareness Month. Cruz invites everyone to the cleanup, which happens on Earth Day, April 22, from 3:30pm to 4:30pm, and on Saturday, April 23, from 8am to 10am. To volunteer and register the site that you or your group want to clean up, email Tom Pangelinan ( or Edward S. Dela Cruz (, or call (670) 664-8500.

Leigh Gases
Leigh Gases is the youngest reporter of Saipan Tribune and primarily covers community related news, but she also handles the utilities, education, municipal, and veterans beats. Contact Leigh at

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