In spring 1970, Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson established Earth Day as a way to demonstrate the need to protect the nation’s environment. On April 22, 1970, an estimated 20 million Americans celebrated the first Earth Day by demonstrating for environmental protections in cities across the country.

 

America listened; less than a year later Congress authorized the creation of a new federal agency to regulate environmental issues, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

 

The theme for this year’s Earth Day is “Invest in Our Planet.” The theme is focused on engaging governments, institutions and businesses to do their part to protect the environment. This can be achieved through initiatives like planting trees, recycling, water conservation, cleanups and volunteering in city, state and national parks. More than 1 billion people around the globe are expected to participate in Earth Day 2023.

 

You can celebrate Earth Day with these fun events happening in The Natural State.

 

Earth Day Party for the Planet

 

Arkansans will have a hard time finding a more perfect place to observe Earth Day than the Little Rock Zoo, which will celebrate the 53rd anniversary of Earth Day with an all-day event. Zoo goers can enjoy Earth Day Party for the Planet from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 22 with the regular price of admission. The family-friendly event will offer special activities and demonstrations, which includes crafts and a scavenger hunt.

 

go green earth day

 

“We are planning on having activities where zoo visitors can connect through nature,” said Jessica Deavult, education program manager at Little Rock Zoo. “We will be doing a pop-up nature play as well as learning about different actions families can take to learn how to help the environment.”

 

The Little Rock Zoo is also partnering with the Little Rock Sustainability Office to host a recycling event on Earth Day. Visitors are especially encouraged to bring old cellphones, batteries and chargers for the Gorillas on the Line conservation program.

 

“A common mineral known as coltan that is used in cellphones is mined where gorilla habitats exist in Africa,” Deavult said. “We send [collected phones] to a company that takes old, used electronics and makes sure that those important components are harvested and recycled.”

 

Central Arkansas Library System

 

Since the folks at Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) don’t think one day is enough to celebrate Earth Day, they’re hosting a series of free family-friendly events to celebrate Earth Month in April. Patrons will be able to pick up Park Passports at any of CALS’ 15 branches, and anyone who visits at least five of the 10 chosen parks during the month of April and turns in their Parks Passport will be entered in a drawing to win park-themed prizes.

 

 

Patrons who want to complete an act of kindness during April can pick up an Earth Month grab-and-go kit from CALS Main Library. It will include a trash bag, eco-friendly gloves, a wildflower seed packet and some information on keeping Little Rock beautiful.

 

Earth Day activities will include a Naturally Arkansas: Bringing Nature to Your Yard event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 22 at the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library and Learning Center. Experts will show participants how to grow native plants and improve habitat for wildlife in your yard. Following the program, Children’s Library’s will have a Green (Open) House tour of the greenhouse and teaching garden from 1-2 p.m.

 

earth day go green

 

People may visit cals.org to find out more about Earth Month events.

 

Outside of April, Tameka Lee, CALS communications director, said library patrons can embrace their natural side through the Naturally Arkansas Series, which holds programs that explore native wildlife, natural landscapes, local plants and seeds and resource management.

 

“This series is about nature, about helping people connect through nature whether it’s learning about native plants, Arkansas birds or bees,” Lee said. “People can pick up produce from the garden and greenhouse at Children’s Library. There are some interesting things that people don’t realize you can get at the library, such as bird-watching kits, fishing poles and telescopes. These are just a few of the things people may not realize the library offers, and I would encourage people to check them out at the library.”

 

Impact the Rock

 

Why spend just one day volunteering when the City of Little Rock will offer a month of volunteer opportunities in celebration of National Volunteer Month? While the City of Little Rock has celebrated National Volunteer Week before, this is the first time they’ve organized a monthlong celebration of volunteers.

 

The Impact the Rock campaign will offer people multiple opportunities to volunteer in Little Rock’s beautiful parks. National Volunteer Month will kick off April 1 at Butler Park, where volunteers will be planting flowers, painting and picking up litter from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The Breckenridge Neighborhood Association will be grilling free hot dogs and offering free refreshments. Volunteers can sign up online at volunteermark.com.

 

 

“I think one of the biggest reasons people should come out of their homes and go to either their local park in their neighborhood or another area they’ve never been to before is to get to know people and help build community,” said Karen Sykes, volunteer programs coordinator for the City of Little Rock.

 

National Volunteer Week provides the opportunity to recognize the impact of volunteer service and to build stronger communities. Little Rock’s National Volunteer Week begins April 15 with what’s being billed as a Day of Unity and Service, where volunteers are encouraged to work at Little Rock Animal Village or a city park or street from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. You can also create your own project and invite friends and family to participate. The City of Little Rock hopes to attract more than 150 volunteers for National Volunteer Week.

 

 

National Volunteer Week ends on Earth Day, when volunteers will gather at the entrance to the amphitheater in Riverfront Park to plant flowers from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

 

“We just hope Little Rock comes out again and takes a moment to get to know their neighbors by beautifying the city. It takes a village,” Sykes said.

 

People can visit Littlerock.gov/volunteer to find a volunteer opportunity or contact Sykes at (501) 442-7320 or ksykes@littlerock.gov for more information.

 

Arkansas State Parks

 

Arkansas State Parks will celebrate Earth Day with a cleanup of Pinnacle Mountain, an iconic landmark surrounded by the Big Maumelle River and Little Maumelle River bottomlands. This family-friendly community effort will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Volunteers will meet up with park interpreters at the West Summit Area, where they will be assigned a location and cleanup task, including waterway and trail pickup, brush clearing and paint removal.

 

Pinnacle Mountain State Park staff will provide the equipment, but volunteers are encouraged to bring gloves, a study pair of shoes or boots and trash bags. No registration is necessary; call Pinnacle Mountain State Park at (501) 868-5806 for more information.

 

 

“For Earth Day, we always do a volunteer cleanup at the park. It’s been going on since back in the 1970s,” said Sam Files, a park interpreter. “I think it’s important to celebrate Earth Day to promote better practices for leave no trace and bring in awareness for our public lands. Earth Day is a great way to celebrate nature, get outdoors, and find a way to give back and make sure that we are being good stewards of our resources and preserving it for future generations.”

 

Outdoor enthusiasts can also celebrate National Arbor Day, the annual spring day in which people are encouraged to plant trees, at Pinnacle Mountain State Park. Park interpreters will celebrate with a day of tree planting and special programs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 28.

 

“If people are looking for ways to get connected, I encourage them to contact their local park,” Files said. “There are always things to be done and things going on. If you want a way to volunteer, we’ll find a way for you to do it.”

 

Visit arkansasstateparks.com to find out about other volunteer opportunities, guided hikes and programming available in Arkansas’ state parks.

 

UA Little Rock Earth Day Celebration

 

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock is celebrating Earth Day with energy-efficient giveaways and local vendors. The free event is open to the public and will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., April 20, outside the Donaghey Student Center.

 

 

Local vendors will be on hand with plant sales, recycling demos, wellness and fitness and sustainability education. UA Little Rock’s Peter Stucky will be giving beekeeping demonstrations, featuring bees from the Campus Garden, while the university will be giving away ice cream.

 

“It makes everybody recognize how important sustainability is,” said Toni Boyer, a member of the sustainability committee. “Earth Day is a great way to learn more about sustainability, and underscore why it is important to the environment. It’s also a great way to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather in April.”

 

 

Additional vendors include Audubon Society, Arkansas Geological Survey, Arkansas Forestry Association, Arkansas Natural Sky Association, Loomis Farms, Mallory’s Free Range Eggs, Sierra Club, Purely Essential 4 Life, Sacred Earth Gifts, Friends of Fourche Creek, Keep Little Rock Beautiful, Little Rock Wastewater Authority and Houseplant Collection.

 

For more information, contact Toni Boyer at thboyer@ualr.edu

 

How to Go Green All Year Long

 

While Earth Day is just once a year, there is no reason you can’t take the initiative to improve our planet every day with some helpful tips on how to stay green all year long from the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission:

 

Participate in Keep Arkansas Beautiful’s two annual cleanup seasons removing litter from communities

Remind others that litter is illegal in Arkansas

Integrate sustainability practices into your daily life

Learn how to recycle

Beautify community spaces

 

“Earth Day provides a great opportunity for communities to come together to learn how powerful an impact they can have by doing projects like litter cleanups, plantings, graffiti removal and overall education about the environment,” said Colbie Jones, director of Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission.

 

“It can also engage audiences that may not have had the opportunity to learn about the importance of taking care of the environment and can be introduced to ways they can get involved. As we get closer to the tourism season, it is important to clean up and maintain our spaces to bolster tourism and showcase how beautiful our state is to our residents and visitors.”

 

The Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission helps keep the Natural State a place of beauty through two statewide cleanup campaigns. Registration for the spring campaign, 2023 Great American Cleanup, is underway.

 

Organizers can register their cleanup event online with Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission, and volunteers can search opportunities at dozens of cleanup events taking place throughout the state. A sample of current projects includes spending Earth Day volunteering to clean up the streets in the cities of De Queen and Pine Bluff, as well as Cherry Hill Cemetery in Mena and with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Diamond Hills in Paris.

 

“From March 1 through May 31, Arkansans are encouraged to identify a space in their community that could use improvement whether through a litter cleanup, recycling drive or beautification project,” Jones said. “Once they identify their space and potential volunteers, they can go to our Get Involved tab at KeepArkansasBeautiful.com to register their effort with us and request free cleanup supplies. Supplies are available on a first-come, first-serve basis while supplies last. Items that can be requested include trash bags, gloves, safety vests, safety signs and volunteer shirts.”