Although thousands of Earth Day in-person events, fairs, and advocacy gatherings have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people around the world are still planning major celebrations and calls to action that will take place on this year’s Earth Day. A monumental event in 2020, April 22 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, which began when American educators and students—more than 20 million of them—mobilized to be a driving force for protections for our planet.
For more than a year, conservationist and environmental education organizations and supporters have been connecting to build a never-before-seen movement for the 50th Earth Day. And though the world looks very different now than it did when the planning for Earth Day 2020 began, those plans haven’t slowed down. Looking for ways to get engaged this Wednesday? There are so many amazing events and activities to choose from! Here are just a few--
1. The Earth Day Network, with a goal of building the world’s largest environmental movement to “drive transformative change for people and planet,” has worked with more than 75,000 partners in more than 190 countries to focus year-round on “positive action for our planet,” and have in light of the pandemic created an online map and calendar where people can find “Digital Earth Day Events” near them.
2. Kentucky Waterway Alliance has created an entire day of free, family-friendly Earth Day activities for folks to celebrate “Earth Day at Home.” At 9am on April 22, their Backyard Bioblitz kicks off, followed by their “Certify Your Backyard” wildlife habitat session, a “Lunch and Launch” virtual paddle livestream, and a #TrashTag Backyard Edition. Learn more here!
3. Judy Braus, Executive Director of the North American Association for Environmental Education, says that “as we head into Earth Week and the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we are at a pivotal point, just as we were 50 years ago. What’s different today is our unprecedented opportunity to communicate across borders and boundaries to get through a global crisis with shared thinking and innovation for the world we want going forward.” See her recent Earth Day message here.
4. The NAAEE is joining with the Walton Family Foundation's campaign to post and share positive news stories and ideas that will provide a welcome lift to our audiences. Organizations and individuals participating in the #EarthDay2020 campaign are encouraged to share photos, videos, and stories of how being outside recharges hope and connection to the outdoors and one another, using the #EarthDay2020 hashtag.
5. Project Learning Tree has compiled stories and resources to help educators and youth learn about sustainability issues, climate science, and actions they can take this EarthDay and every day. PLT has also worked with Earth Day Network, Project WET, and Project WILD to produce a guide that lists all our available education resources to advance climate education.
6. NASA, which began celebrating Earth Day 2020 on March 3 with a "50-Day Countdown" of daily social media posts and daily blogs on NASA's Earth Day website, shares a toolkit of activities for students and families. On April 22, they will air the Earth Day episode of "NASA Science Live," which will feature NASA experts discussing how NASA science and tech are used to understand and improve the environment. The show will air at 3pm EST on NASA TV, YouTube Premium, Facebook's Watch Party, and Periscope/Twitter.
7. “We never envisioned spending the 50th Earth Day this way. Primarily indoors,” says The Nature Conservancy. “Yet here we are, collectively playing our part to help solve a global problem like COVID-19. The environmental challenges of our present day are also formidable. Humanity can solve these challenges. Look no further than the movement sparked by that initial Earth Day in 1970. People came together and urged their leaders to advance cleaner air and water. We all have a part to play in the next 50 years.” Check out their Earth Day 2020 collection of stories of hope here.
8. Harvard's Division of Continuing Education is hosting a momentous global online celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day on April 22 at 9:30am EST. Learn more and register here.
9. From April 22 to April 24, the Sierra Club is hosting a livestream featuring activists, performers, thought leaders, and artists coming together “for an empowering, inspiring, and communal” virtual event. Learn more and register here.
10. To mark the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, National Geographic is showcasing efforts being implemented around the globe to help protect the natural world. Check out their seven good-news wildlife stories from the last year, see how Texas hounds are helping chase down poachers in South Africa, and discover how Polynesian sailing vessels are being used to clean up microplastics.
Happy (almost) #Earth Day2020!
By Leigh Cocanougher
KAEE is one of the country’s oldest associations supporting environmental education. We comprise people from all walks of life, coming together to support EE.