I had to work last Saturday. As a 4-H staff person, it’s not unusual to have to work on weekends, and I generally don’t mind. However, when I got up on Saturday, I admit that I wasn’t looking forward to it. I was scheduled to meet youth and volunteers from our Peoria County 4-H clubs at Sommer Farm. Our goal for the day was to plant 25 oak trees to establish (or maybe re-establish) an oak savanna. While I was in favor of this idea in theory, it had snowed on Friday and there was still ice covering my bird baths as I donned my long johns and work coat for what promised to be a chilly outing.
Once I got there, however, my attitude changed completely! The sun had come out into a bright blue sky dotted with fluffy clouds. The wooded area was just starting to put on the greenish hue of spring. I chatted with the colleagues and kids who had arrived a bit early, and was energized by their contagious enthusiasm (and perhaps the coffee that was helping to keep me warm). As we got closer to our designated start time, more and more families and friends came out to join us.
Soon, it was time to get started. We pulled the tiny saplings from their pots and used our shovels to tuck them into their new homes. We plunged work-gloved hands into the damp soils examined grubs, and gazed overhead at a hawk lazily circling above.
It was a glorious Spring morning, and I felt genuine connection to nature and to those that came out to help. It was a great way to celebrate Earth Day a little bit early.
Earth Day is actually on April 22 this year, and it’s a great time to recognize the importance of having a healthy environment - and maybe do something to help! Here are a few ways that you and your family can celebrate Earth Day:
- Participate in the Great Global Cleanup. Be a litter picker-upper at an organized cleanup, coordinate and register your own event. Or just put on some rubber gloves and pick up trash as you take a walk around your neighborhood.
- Plant a tree. Pick out a spot in your yard, or work with officials from your favorite park to find a good spot to place a new addition to the landscape. Visit Illinois Extension to earn more tree planting basics.
- Reduce your kitchen waste by starting your own composting project. Learn more from Composting 101 or How to Get Started with indoor worm Composting.
- Make an Earth Day pledge. Work with your children to brainstorm a list of ways that your family can help care for the environment. Pick the top 5 or 10 that are most feasible for your family and commit to doing those things together. Write out and decorate the final list together, then post it on the fridge or near the family calendar to be a fun reminder of your commitment to save our planet. (Ideas for your list might include: turn off lights when you leave a room; take shorter showers; use cloth bags at the grocery store; make your own natural cleaning products or toiletries; etc.)
MEET THE AUTHOR
Emily Schoenfelder joined the Illinois 4-H team in 2017. Prior to this, she began her work in positive youth development with California 4-H and the YMCA. She specializes in STEM engagement, social-emotional development, and educator professional development.
She received a Master of Science degree in recreation, park, and tourism administration from Western Illinois University.
When she is not writing curriculum or facilitating a training, you may find Emily sitting on the floor of her office, building marshmallow catapults out of popsicle sticks or designing mazes for robots for her next STEM program.
ABOUT THE BLOG
Connection Corner is a blog that provides timely information, activities, and resources to help you stay connected to loved ones, the world around you, and yourself.