by Anna Rabhan
Senator Gaylord Nelson established Earth Day 40 years ago in order to inspire environmental awareness and action (www.nelsonearthday.net). More than 140 countries will observe it this year on Thursday, April 22. But why wait? The entire month of April is Earth Month, and there are lots of events planned for April and beyond in Northeast Florida. Get your green on!
April 3 Donate Life Day What’s the ultimate item to recycle? Yourself! Join several organ and tissue donation organizations for free entertainment from 3 pm to closing at The Jacksonville Landing. There will be music all day as well as face painting and balloon animals. A repeat of last year’s visit by Jaxson de Ville is in the works. Visitors will have the opportunity to register as organ donors and will be able to donate blood on site. Go to www.donatelifedayjax.com to learn all about recycling yourself.
April 8 Green Building and Remodeling Your Home in NE FL Join the North Florida Chapter of the Green Building Council and Jacksonville Public Libraries from 7:30 – 8:30 pm at the Main Library on Laura Street for this free lecture detailing the advantages, value and incentives available for the green building or remodeling of your home. Visit the event calendar at www.usgbcnf.org.
April 10 River Celebration Day From 11 am – 4 pm at Walter Jones Historical Park, the Riverkeeper will provide activities in the Riverkeeper Kids’ Zone, boat trips, music, food and more. FREE! Visit the calendar of events at www.stjohnsriverkeeper.org.
April 17 Bartram Birthday Bash At Alpine Groves Park from 10 am – 12 pm , celebrate the naturalist and explorer William Bartram’s birthday beginning with a decorated bicycle parade. Visit the calendar of events at www.stjohnsriverkeeper.org.
April 17 Theodore Roosevelt Guided Hike Join the Northeast Florida Native Plant Society, Ixia Chapter and the Riverkeeper from 10 am – 12 pm for a guided hike of Theodore Roosevelt Park. Bring a bagged lunch. Visit the calendar of events at www.stjohnsriverkeeper.org for more information. While you’re there, order a copy of the Riverkeeper’s new book Get Your Feet Wet. It’s a great activity book and river guide for the whole family.
April 17 Earth Day Jacksonville & Ecology Fair Be at The Landing from 10 am – 4 pm for this free family day featuring Radio Disney, 80 booths of educational and interactive displays, and live entertainment. Get the details on the events page at www.jacksonvillelanding.com.
April 17 Shell-a-brate Earth Day Just up the road is a wonderful center for environmental and wildlife education that you can get to by car or boat. Stop by the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island for a day of crafts, games, demonstrations, food, entertainment, live animals and visits with the Scute, the GSTC mascot. Find details at www.georgiaseaturtlecenter.org. Get your kids thinking about and anticipating this fun day by reading Jane Wood’s Trouble on the St. Johns River with them in the days before the celebration.
April 22 Speaking of Flora, Fauna and Geography At 6 pm, join photographer and writer John Moran at MOSH to celebrate Earth Day and see Moran’s breathtaking work. Proceeds from the $5 suggested donation benefit St. Johns Riverkeeper and the Native Plant Society, Ixia Chapter. Visit the calendar of events at www.stjohnsriverkeeper.org for more information.
April 24 9th Annual Joseph A. Strasser Butterfly Festival Join the folks at Tree Hill Nature Center from 10 am – 5 pm for a day of family fun, live music, food, environmental educational activities and, of course, butterflies! Visit www.treehill.org for more information about the festival and Tree Hill’s many wonderful regular programs such as Family Saturdays.
April 24 and 25 Party for the Planet Celebrate Earth Day at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens from 10 am – 4 pm with educational booths featuring organizations such as the Riverkeeper, Florida Fish and Wildlife and JEA. There will be live entertainment, animal encounters, prize drawings, visits from Jazoo and more! From 7 am – 9:30 am on April 24, participate in the Walk for the Planet family fun walk and fundraiser. Get more information and find out how to register at www.jacksonvillezoo.org.
May 1 Friends of A1A Environmental Education Fair From 8:30 am – 4 pm join the Friends of A1A at the University of Florida Whitney Labs in Marineland for a day filled with learning through interactive workshops, vendor demonstrations, exhibits, music and fun for all ages. The event is free. Check out www.scenica1a.org for more information on the fair and to learn about history, scenery and opportunities to enjoy nature here on the First Coast.
May 8 History Boat Trip From 10 am – 12 pm. For more details and to make reservations, email [email protected] or call 256-7613.
May 11-16 Nest Fest The Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island hosts a week of fun including sea turtle lectures, kid-friendly movies and after school activities with Scute, the GSTC mascot. There will even be a sea turtle release at the end of the festival. Registration is required for most activities, so visit www.georgiaseaturtlecenter.org.
May 15 and 16 Green Expo and Health & Wellness Expo From 10 am – 5 pm on May 15 and 10 am – 4:30 pm on May 16 at the Prime Osborn Convention Center, Global Greenup, LLC once again brings together individuals who are concerned about the environment and interested in a life of health, wellness and fitness for a weekend of demonstrations, workshops and activities. Taste organic beer and food, see solar and wind energy demonstrations, take your children to the Green Kids Zone and so much more. Get the details at www.globalgreenup.com.
May 22 Kayak for a Cause At 10 am and 1 pm participate in a benefit for the St. Johns Riverkeeper. See some of old Florida and paddle the beautiful and wild Hontoon Dead River in DeLand, FL. The cost is $60 and reservations can be made by calling 904-347-1565 or visiting www.rippleeffectecotours.com.
You’ll come away from these events with loads of ideas, so consider attending with an eye toward making some changes as well as having tons of fun!
In order to make changes based on what you learn at all of this year’s green events, you need information about your family’s habits. Visit www.epa.gov/earthday to use a calculator that figures out your household’s current carbon footprint. Select from a checklist of actions you feel your family could commit to taking. The calculator will show you the amount and percentage of reduction in your carbon footprint, the amount you will save in dollars and what your household’s new total emissions would be if you took the actions you selected.
A great site to use if you want to get global during Earth Month is www.earthday.net. Learn about worldwide events and how to take action. Tons of resources are available on this site and you can watch Earth Day TV – short video productions about the environment.
A site specific to our region is www.florida.sierraclub.org/north…. This Sierra Club chapter hosts all kinds of cool events and activities in our area. Find out all about them, as well as the chapter’s regular meetings, on this site. This is also a great place to learn about the local hot button environmental issues.