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News and Resources

Connect with Earth and not just in April - May 10, 2012

The month of April saw local, state, and national efforts to encourage stewardship of our earth, through service and connections to nature.

At the national level, Earth Day was celebrated for the 42nd year. The Children and Nature Network (www.childrenandnature. org) promoted its second Let's G.O. (Get Outside) initiative and registered more than 600 nature-related events for families, covering all 50 states. The White House hosted the first-ever White House Summit on Environmental Education. Outdoor Afro (www.outdoorafro.com), "where black people and nature meet," helped to get the word out about outdoor events in urban areas nationwide. The Lorax was in theaters everywhere, "speak(ing) for the trees," and Disneynature released "Chimpanzee," with profits benefitting the Jane Goodall Institute.

At the state level, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley declared April Environmental Education month and organizations promoted activities statewide. More than 200 Maryland schools submitted applications to the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (www.maeoe.org) in hopes of qualifying for Maryland Green School certification.

Locally, the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, the Town of Ocean City and Grow Berlin Green hosted cleanup events, planting projects and community beautification activities. Nearly 30 organizations, including parks, wildlife refuges, municipal water and recycling centers, conservation organizations, and more offered family-friendly educational activities at the Salisbury Zoo's annual Earth Day event. The full complement of opportunities offered across Delmarva to connect with nature and engage in earth-friendly events are too numerous to mention.

Talk of Earth Day and connecting to nature even invaded the airwaves as "Because I Said So," a new local radio program on Public Radio Delmarva broadcast a special Earth Day episode featuring the Newton Marasco Foundation's Green Earth Book Awards, which recognizes children's books that encourage a stewardship ethic, and MCBP's efforts to connect local children and families to local nature. The radio episode is available via podcast at www.publicradiodelmarva.net/post/because-i-said-so-episode-9.

But now it is May. The month of celebrating our earth and connecting with nature has passed. Now what? I'll tell you what. Keep doing it! It's good for the earth and it's good for you.

The average child spends six to eight hours a day in front of a screen and less than one hour a week outside. What? That's outrageous. Plastics, toxic chemicals, and runoff are polluting our waterways. Excess greenhouse gases are warming our planet. Wildlife habitats are being compromised. Our own health and quality of life is, necessarily, impacted. Riding a bike, conducting a cleanup, planting a tree -- these activities can help combat what ails us, and what ails our Earth.

Visit a local park. Muck around in a ditch. Take a stroll on the beach. Kayak in a coastal bay. Look for newly arriving birds. Go fishing. Lounge in your backyard. And yes, stop and smell the flowers.

Spring on Delmarva boasts birds, blooms and bays. Get outside and enjoy it. And while you're out there, soaking it all in, consider taking a few steps and making a few changes that could help to preserve it.

As the Lorax reminds us, "unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."

As part of its Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan, the Maryland Coastal Bays Program strives to engage local people in conservation efforts and to help improve access to local natural areas. If you're interested in learning more about the Maryland Coastal Bays Program's efforts, or would like to get involved, please contact us at mcbp@mdcoastalbays.org.

Carrie Samis is the education coordinator for the Maryland Coastal Bays Program.


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