During this time of tulips, the earth is beckoning us to pay attention to a troubled environment. There are enough activities happening in honor of this year’s Earth Day — April 22 — that they could rotate around the planet for at least a year, and schools and colleges are right in the epicenter of that movement.
School lessons, teach-ins, nature walks, several marches on Washington — April 22 and April 29 — community cleanups and a student poster contest are some of the highlights.
A radiant earth, with the sun rising just beyond the curve, is pictured on the home page of Share My Lesson. This free lesson plan site, sponsored by American Federation of Teachers with material from teachers across the country, is honoring Earth Day with the theme “Celebrate Science.” It is brimming with educational materials on teaching about environmental subjects from sea to shining sea and the space above our world.
Educational events include:
- At SUNY Fredonia, a daylong teach-in April 22 will showcase speakers, nature walks, nature writing and drumming. Faculty, members of United University Professions — NYSUT’s largest higher education union — will speak on herbal preparations, identifying spring plants, and will read from environmental literature.
- On April 26, CUNY Queensborough Community College will host an educational session on the science behind climate change, with retired New York City teacher Monica Weiss, a member of the United Federation of Teachers, as one of the presenters. She attended Al Gore’s Climate Reality Training.
- The Professional Staff Congress, the CUNY higher education union for faculty and staff, is sending two busloads of members to the April 29 Climate March in Washington, D.C.
- SUNY Broome’s UUP faculty are taking part in Earthfest on April 30.
“Educators are on the forefront of the environmental movement. We must inform and empower future generations to protect our planet,” heralds www.earthday.org. The organization’s goal this year is to sponsor teach-ins across the globe, just as it did during the first Earth Day in 1970.
The Earth Day organization has been promoting the annual environmental awareness day with toolkits for teach-ins and for the March for Science walk in Washington on April 22. Those who are taking part will be doing more than walking. They will also be listening to speeches and musical performances — all expected at a large march — and they will also be able to take part in training with scientists.
The New York State Senate sponsored a poster contest, and each participating senator chose a theme and then selected winners. Julia Schmidberger (pictured at right), a fourth-grader from Somers Intermediate School in Westchester County, won the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” poster contest sponsored by Sen. Terrence Murphy, R-Jefferson Valley.
For Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville, the winner was Josiah Megnauth from Lincoln Elementary School with a “Save the Earth” entry (pictured at top) showing a radiant earth. Other state representatives, such as Sen. Liz Krueger, D-New York, are taking action on the job, joining colleagues to advocate for reducing diesel emissions.
Tedisco thanked teachers, “whose dedication and involvement provided the encouragement” students needed to be creative for the project.
In an open letter to the students who submitted posters, Murphy encouraged youngsters to “continue to study and learn more about the serious challenges that face our environment.”
Murphy’s plans for Earth Day? Rolling up his sleeves and cleaning up in communities around the Yorktown area.
“Education is the foundation for progress. We need to build a global citizenry fluent in the concepts of climate change and aware of its unprecedented threat to our planet. We need to empower everyone with the knowledge to inspire action in defense of environmental protection,” reported Earth Day organizers.