50th Anniversary of Earth Day, 1970 – 2020

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Katrina Broughman, RVF Program Director

On January 18, 1970, the New York Times ran a full-page ad using the term Earth Day for the first time. That year on April 22 citizens were galvanized into environmental actions. Earth Day is credited with activating 20 million Americans to begin an environmental awareness movement. The end of the year saw the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of landmark legislation such as the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and Endangered Species Act. According to Earth Day Network, a non-profit global environmental education organization, more than a billion people now participate in Earth Day activities. That count makes Earth Day the largest civic observance in the world.

Denis Hayes is the organizer of the first Earth Day and Earth Day Network’s Board Chair Emeritus.  Hayes has stated that, “Despite amazing success and decades of environmental progress, we find ourselves facing an almost existential set of global environmental challenges, from loss of biodiversity to climate change to plastic pollution, that call for action at all levels of government.” 

This year, in observance of the 50th anniversary, the Rockfish Valley Foundation (RVF) will host an Earth Day Festival Sunday, April 19, from 12 to 4 p.m. The event will take place at Spruce Creek Park, and Natural History Center, 1368 Rockfish Valley Highway in Nellysford.

A committee of volunteers is planning activities to include exhibits, ecologically minded vendors, family activities, and live music.  Nelson Schools have been invited to participate in a student artwork contest and citizens attending will participate as judges. Goals for the exhibits are to reflect on themes such as, “What am I doing for the planet? What is my community doing for the planet?  How can we do more?”  

The Rockfish Valley Foundation (RVF) offers year-round public access to trails along the South Fork of Rockfish River, Spruce Creek Park, and the Natural History Center.  RVF recently hired Katrina Broughman as program director in charge of education, events, volunteers and publicity.  Following two years of Peace Corp experience in Moldovia, Broughman returned to her home in Lexington as the environmental educator at Boxerwood Nature Center.  She has also worked in Staunton City Public Schools with middle and upper grade students. She now lives in Afton and remains committed to environmental education. 

If you are interested in sponsoring or volunteering for the RVF Earth Day Festival event, please email at [email protected] 

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