Earth Day is just around the corner and will be celebrated around the world. But how did it all begin and how can you become involved?
The idea came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land.
As a result, on the 22nd of April, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.
Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. “It was a gamble,” Gaylord recalled, “but it worked.”
Earth Day at Eagle Marsh
Here in Fort Wayne Indiana, Earth Day will be celebrated at Eagle Marsh (Little Rivers Wetland Project) on Engle Road from 1-5pm. To say that it will take place on “Engle Road” is in fact the truth. After the success of last year’s event, executive director Sean Nolan requested permission to have Engle Road closed between West Jefferson and Smith Road from 9:00am to 9:00pm.
Many area nature groups and businesses will be part of this free event, which will feature numerous fun activities for the whole family. These include volunteer opportunities to plant native milkweed plants at Eagle Marsh , interactive nature education stations along the preserve’s trails, a new nature photography exhibit, face painting, and more.
The Education Stations will provide lots of “hands-on” activities and will include:
- Building a Better Bug – insect parts and the opportunity to build your own bug
- Bee a Pollinator – pollination and the life cycle of a bee
- Why Wetlands – three experiments to demonstrate wetlands clean water
- Everything Poops in the Marsh – scats and tracks (hosted by yours truly)
- Whoo Eats That – what owls eat
- Salamanders – environmental barometers
- Frogs and Toads of Eagle Marsh – a hopping good time guaranteed
- Life Cycle of a Leopard Frog – actually build the four stages
- Pond Dipping – swimmers, wigglers and things that go hop
- Bird Observation Station – spot birds and make your own binoculars
- Coloring with AEP – sponsors for the educational stations
A Earth Day 5K Walk presented by OmniSource will begin at 2:00 pm on April 21 during Earth Day Fort Wayne. Register now at www.firstgiving.com/lrwp/EarthDayWalk ($20 for adults, $10 for ages 7-17) to help us raise funds for LRWP’s important work of wetland restoration and nature education, including the care of Eagle Marsh and other LRWP preserves.
Visit www.Facebook.com/EarthDayFortWayne for details.