Thursday, April 21, 2011

Earth Day activities to culminate with alternative fuels road rally

Kevin Para
Innovative college students and academics, not politicians, are the next great hope of steering the nation’s energy demands away from fossil fuels toward more environmentally friendly and sustainable resources. So says Kevin Para, a Daytona State College associate of arts/university transfer student majoring in Pre-Architecture, who will take his demonstration of alternative bio-fuels on the road to each of Daytona State’s campuses Friday in celebration of Earth Day.

A former New Smyrna Beach Utilities commissioner and heavy equipment dealer, Para, 50, has been interested in creating alternative fuel from waste vegetable oil for years. On Friday, he will demonstrate how he was able to convert his 1986 Mercedes Benz into a two-tank system that operates on both diesel and vegetable oil.

“Our goal is to demonstrate how successful this can be,” said Para, who also is president of the college’s Science Club. “We will be talking about a variety of different processes regarding how bio-diesel fuel is made and used in cars, practical steps that address some of the problems facing our nation as far as energy consumption and demand are concerned. I believe that the solutions to our problems are going to come from the campuses and the students of colleges like Daytona State, not from Washington or Tallahassee. As college students, we have to take a leadership role.”
Para said he has been driving his Mercedes for over seven years, using a two-tank system that shares diesel and vegetable oil. His son and daughter also drive vehicles that have been converted to bio-diesel, a byproduct of vegetable oil.
The tentative schedule for the Alternative Fuel Road Rally calls for up to 10 alternative fuel vehicles to arrive on the Daytona Beach Campus around 8:30 a.m., with demonstrations beginning at 9:15. The caravan will arrive at the Advanced Technology College at 10:15, then head to the Flagler/Palm Coast Campus just before noon. It is scheduled to arrive at the DeLand Campus at 1:30 p.m., then head to the Deltona Campus and wrap up at the New Smyrna Beach-Edgewater Campus around 4.
“There are so many things we as students can do that are progressive,” Para said. “Our goal is to share the possibilities with our fellow students.”
Every day is Earth Day for Environmental Club
Members of the college’s Environmental Club view Earth Day as a way of life, not just an event, and have been working to foster environmental awareness on campus year-round.
Members of the Environmental Club meet during a recent
beach cleanup.
On Wednesday, club members hosted an information booth during student government elections, promoting activities that fellow students can do every day to help save the environment, according to club adviser Jane Davis, who said the club will distribute information electronically on Friday, offering tips to students and staff on ways to conserve energy in their daily lives.
“As a club, our mission is to foster a constant awareness,” she said. “I think even the most environmentally aware people can sometimes get caught up in the daily routine of life and let some bad habits – like not recycling – start slipping back in. While Earth Day is a good time to refresh everyone’s memory about what we are supposed to be doing as individuals, our goal is to have this awareness be top of mind every day.”
Recently, the club also sold reusable cups that can be refilled at a discount in the college Food Court, an alternative to paper and Styrofoam cups. The more than $200 in proceeds the club raised will be used to purchase sapling trees to plant in the Tiger Bay State Forest and other locations. Club members also regularly promote their on-campus plastics recycling program, participate in coastal cleanups, and have properly disposed of nearly 15,000 cigarette butts found on campus grounds this year alone.
Club President Denise Hayes also is planning a “Pledge to Save Water Campaign,” with the goal of encouraging students and employees to do their part every day to help save Florida’s water resources and reservoirs.
“The best thing we can do is give people the tools to help themselves become more environmentally aware and, in turn, allow them to take responsibility for their own part in living a greener lifestyle,” Davis said.
Learn more about the Environmental Club on the Web at, or find them on Facebook.