Local Earth Day events take root

ST. CLAIRSVILLE Millions of people across the globe today are standing shoulder to shoulder with Mother Nature in doing their part, however big or small, to protect the environment.

Today is the Earth Day 2013.

And from recycling, to trash pick-up events and even construction projects that emphasis energy efficiency, people are both young and old are celebrated in a whole host of ways.

The students from the East Central Ohio Educational Service Center’s After School Achievement Program complete a yearly service project as part of their grant.

The 21st century learning grant was first received in 2011 and is a nearly $1,000,000 grant for five years.

This year, program coordinator Dorothy Vannest and her students opted to do a service project for Earth Day and will assist in cleanup efforts along the National Road Bikeway in St. Clairsville.

“The kids were excited,” Vannest said. “Earth Day stresses how important the environment is.

“We’re also have three summer programs, under this same grant, that will touch on a similar theme.”

From June 17-20, the students will work with the master gardeners from the Ohio State University Extension Office, helping to clear an overrun garden-area at a church in St. Clairsville and supply it with new plants and mulch. They will be learning about soil conservation, different types of plants and landscaping.

On August 5-8, the students will be working with the J.B. Green Team on recycling. Late July there is another green-themed program for the students.

The ASAP program itself is for students in grades 6-8 in Belmont County that focuses on reading and math from 2:30-5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, at the St. Clairsville library.

That’s just one example of ways you can do you part on Earth Day.

The first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970, took advantage of the growing consciousness and concern about the planet and the shoddy job being done taking care of its natural resources and natural wonders up until that point.

The idea was though up by founder Gaylord Nelson who, at the time, was serving as a United States Senator, representing Wisconsin.

Nelson was inspired to act after witnessing the massive oil spill which rocked Santa Barbara, California in 1969.

Nelson also took note of the fervor and enthusiasm demonstrated by anti-war protestors during the 1960s.

His thinking was that if he could channel that passion toward environmental concerns, he could get the country as a whole to wake up to the need to take air and water pollution, and pollution as a whole, seriously.

Hayes recruited Denis Hayes as a national coordinator to help get the concept or Earth Day from idea to reality.

That first Earth Day, more than 20 million citizens took to the streets to demonstrate, educate and talk about the need to protect the environment.

Without Nelson’s initial work, there would be no Environmental Protection Agency.

Earth Day brought the EPA into service.

It also led the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Act.

In 1990, Hayes was approached, this time on the 20th anniversary of that first Earth Day.

Supporters wanted to take the movement outside of the boarders of the United States and awaken a sense of environmental consciousness on a global scale.

More than 200 million people in 141 countries were mobilized.

Two years later, the United Nations hosted its first Earth Summit in Brazil’s picturesque city of Rio de Janeiro.

On the 40th anniversary of Earth Day in 2010, the Earth Day Network launched its “A Billion Acts of Green” campaign.

The idea was to register 1,000,000,000 green actions prior to the start of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, also in Rio, scheduled for June of 2012.

That marked was surpassed on Earth Day, 2012, a few months ahead of schedule.

Hughes may be reached at mhughes@timesleaderonline.com