Celebrating Earth Day by making a difference
By Valerie Beerbower
Many of us are familiar with Earth Day, celebrated on April 22 of each year, but how did this day of recognizing environmental impact come about? According to the Earth Day Network, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson drew inspiration from the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, Calif. He wanted to harness the power of public consciousness about air and water pollution in order to thrust environmental protection into the political spotlight. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media, persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair, and recruited Denis Hayes as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land.
On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment. Colleges, universities and other groups that had been fighting environmental deterioration, such as, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, the loss of wilderness and the extinction of wildlife were able to join together in a common chorus of environmentalism and “nature awareness.”
Five Rivers MetroParks is bringing this environmental activism home. Each spring, Miami Valley residents join forces to beautify their neighborhoods and natural areas as part of the annual Adopt-a-Park event. This year’s clean-up takes place from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, April 16.
Adopt-A-Park is a regional cleanup of Five Rivers MetroParks and waterways throughout the county that brings together volunteers of all ages and backgrounds to make the parks and river corridors healthier and friendlier places to visit. Last year’s event drew over 2,000 volunteers, offering more than 7,000 hours of service. The dedicated volunteers that participate each year in Adopt-A-Park provide vital help in making the Miami Valley a happier and healthier place to live. “Volunteerism is key to sustaining our local natural amenities and green space,” said Kevin Kepler, volunteer services manager for Five Rivers MetroParks. “In turn, those natural amenities sustain our quality of life in the area.”
Volunteers are needed for a variety of projects throughout 26 work sites across the area. Opportunities include litter removal, trail maintenance, honeysuckle removal and gardening activities. Volunteers will be provided with a free t-shirt and lunch at Eastwood MetroPark at 11:30 a.m. as well as project supplies.
Individuals or groups interested in participating in Adopt-A-Park should call
(937) 275-PARK or register online by visiting
There are a variety of projects available; families, businesses, Scout groups, teen clubs, church organizations, seniors, neighborhood associations and anyone else interested in making their world a little more bright and beautiful are invited to participate. “We get a lot of first-time volunteers through Adopt-a-Park,” Kepler said. “What’s great about this opportunity is that it gives folks a little taste of what their volunteer experience is like with Five Rivers MetroParks, and from that date, we get more people interested in other types of volunteer programs offered.”
Available volunteer opportunities throughout the MetroParks are as diverse as the parks themselves. There is something to fit your individual talents or interests in a park near you.
Love gardening? You can help work the landscape at your favorite MetroPark, beautify downtown Dayton, or propagate plants for the next growing season.
History buff? Join the historical farm staff at Carriage Hill MetroPark and teach visitors about Ohio’s agricultural past.
Can’t get enough hiking? Join the MetroParks Volunteer Patrol and be MetroParks’ eyes and ears on the trail as you report trail conditions and help fellow hikers while you enjoy the region’s premier trail system.
Even those who have limited mobility can lend their talents to important administrative tasks. Visit www.metroparks.org/volunteer to learn more about the full breadth of available volunteer opportunities. Search by your favorite MetroPark or by the type of activity you’re interested in.
Join us Saturday, April 16, for Adopt-a-Park and find out how rewarding it is to give back. Register today at www.metroparks.org/adopt or call (937) 275-PARK (7275). Once you’re ready to take your volunteering to the next level, visit www.metroparks.org/volunteer and find out how you can use your special talents and interests to make your favorite MetroParks a better place for everyone!
Reach DCP freelance writer Valerie Beerbower at firstname.lastname@example.org