9 ways to mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day from home
Environmentally conscious Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Brent Suter will host a Q&A on Earth Day. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
April 22 is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.
While large-scale events across the globe have had to be shelved as we shelter in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still plenty of ways to do our part to call attention to environmental issues.
Sustainable New Jersey will host an Earth Day virtual Happy Hour from 4 to 5 Wednesday, with a talk about environmental movement in the state and the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. Go: sustainablejersey.com/events
Here are eight more ways to celebrate Earth Day from your town, your home and your own backyard.
Seeds of change
It’s spring and while the nighttime temps are still risky for many garden staples, it’s not too early to nurture seeds and young sprouts indoors. Whether you are well on your way to planting a vegetable garden (a big help when acquiring fresh produce can be harder than usual), or just want to tuck a few wildflower seeds in a pot of soil for backyard bees, Earth Day is a great day to do it.
Farm stands and garden centers are considered essential businesses in New Jersey, so don’t hesitate to throw some business their way. Explore social media and web pages and plan to order ahead and pick up curbside wherever possible. Some businesses also offer delivery of spring plants and gardening supplies.
Birds of a feather
The National Audubon Society has a ton of resources for backyard bird lovers and encourages birding as a responsible and restorative hobby while practicing social distancing. Whether you hang a feeder or two near a window (avoid places kamikaze squirrels or roaming cats can get to it), or set out for a walk with binoculars, springtime is a great time to spot young owls and eaglets and a host of other birds. The Audubon website offers virtual Audubon for Kids hub so families can learn and explore together.
Earth Day may find us housebound, but that doesn’t mean you can’t travel the world. As part of a day-long commemoration, the American Museum of Natural History has the ultimate answer to coronavirus cabin fever: A noontime "Field Trip Earth Live Watch Party,'' a simulated flight around the globe. Participants will “explore’’ some of the Earth’s natural wonders including the Great Barrier Reef, the Amazon Rainforest, the Sahara and much more, led by Join Director of Astrovisualization Carter Emmart and Museum astrophysicist Jackie Faherty. The day’s fun also includes gardening tips, science projects related to glaciers, butterfly education and more.
Earth to Philly
Adventure Aquarium, the Philadelphia Zoo and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in Philadelphia are teaming up to celebrate Earth Day with shared programming on their social media channels.
At noon Wednesday, the organizations join forces to host an Earth Day event on Facebook featuring a panel discussion about climate issues. The following hosts will offer ways we can make a difference in combating climate change: Elizabeth Hann, Zoological Operations Manager at Adventure Aquarium; Dani Hogan, Manager of Education Programs at Philadelphia Zoo, and Karen Verderame, Animal Programs Developer at The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.
Also, beginning Sunday, the Camden Waterfront aquarium will offer Earth Day-themed educational materials, advice and videos for a week of learning: adventureaquarium.com/Kids-Activities
Watch on the wild side
There are few things more soothing than watching animals at play. Wildlife centers and zoos throughout the globe offer live cams so you can tune in anytime to check out how your favorite wild things are doing in real time. Many of them are also offering "zoo schools'' for online learning.
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo Conservation Biology Institute offers live cams of naked mole-rats, panda, lions and elephants. From the Philadelphia Zoo, you can watch the penguins glide around Penguin Point.
In Central Jersey, Duke Farms of Hillsborough offers a live eagle cam with a pair of young eagles nesting in real time.
To think globally, check out the live feeds of explore.org, which offer the chance to observe manatees, Grace gorillas, hummingbirds and much more. And don’t just settle for watching: Commit to checking in at the same time each day and keeping a log of what you witness, Googling around to learn more about your favorite wild things and searching streaming services for National Geographic Explorer documentaries that can offer opportunities to learn more as a family.
Go: Philadephia Zoo: philadelphiazoo.org/penguin-point-cam/
Duke Farms: youtube.com/watch?v=3rMFY1CfgE8
Like nearly everything else you can think of, your local wildlife centers and rescue organizations are hard hit by the coronavirus crisis.
Places like Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge in Medford, which rescues, rehabilitates and fosters injured wildlife from eagles to deer, is struggling as its on-site education programs and events have been curtailed by the crisis.
You can support wildlife centers throughout the state with an Earth Day donation. And be sure to visit their websites and social media channels to see what Earth Day programming they are offering, which can supplement remote learning. Woodford, for instance, offers a ''Tails at Two'' Livestream weekdays at 2 p.m. on its Facebook page.
Gaming and gardening
Earth Day may be a grassroots effort, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t influenced the gaming realm.
If you’ve been distracting yourself from the pandemic by playing “Animal Crossing: New Horizons,’’ you can look forward to an Earth Day free downloadable Nintendo update, reportedly led by Leif the Sloth and involving lots of flowers and gardening fun.
Pitch a tent
Nothing drives home the need to protect the planet more than getting close to it.
You can take a hike (as long as you stay out of any place that is officially off limits due to the shut down), take some nature photos — or you can get even closer to the earth by sleeping on the ground.
Dust off your camping equipment and plan a backyard camp out. S’mores, campfire songs and flashlight fun – but in among the ghost stories, include some promises to do a better job as a family in protecting our home.
Tammy Paolino covers restaurants, breweries, food trucks and arts events for the USA TODAY New Jersey Network. She’s an award-winning reporter and editor who has covered the Garden State for more than 30 years. Reach her at email@example.com or 856-486-2477 or on Twitter @CP_TammyPaolino. Help support local journalism with a Courier-Post subscription.