Like most young, inquisitive children, my fascination with planet Earth began at an early age. As a young girl, I developed a passion for planting seeds and observing the life cycles of everything from flowers to food. With those fond memories permanently imbedded in my mind, I embarked upon a new venture as an adult when I was graciously offered the opportunity to join an organization recognized globally: Earth Day Network (EDN). I first learned of EDN when I participated in my first Earth Day, a globally renowned event that we observe every April 22nd to celebrate the glorious planet that we live on; a day that is solely dedicated to preserving our planet.
A product of the flower-child generation and hippie culture, Earth Day began as a local grassroots movement that, for the first time in America, made environmental concern a household topic. Thanks to Rachel Carson's 1962 New York Times bestseller, Silent Spring, mainstream culture emerged from its obliviousness. At last, Americans started paying attention to the problems they could no longer ignore, leading to a rise in environmental activism. This is when Earth Day founder Senator Gaylord Nelson knew that the time to take action had finally arrived. He enlisted the help of Denis Hayes to serve as his co-chair and take the cause global. With a considerable sect of supporters, Nelson and Hayes celebrated the first annual Earth Day in 1970, hoping to channel the energy of the pro-peace sentiments that were quickly gaining popularity. Their mission to raise awareness and concern for the well-being of our planet proved wildly successful, thanks to the support of 20 million people in just the first year. Not surprisingly, Earth Day gained international attention and acceptance. Today, Earth Day boasts a staggering one billion supporters from 192 countries. What began as a call to action on college campuses and city squares soon became one of the most critical movements of our time, celebrated annually, but felt daily.
When most people discover or embrace their philanthropic calling, they often seek to join an organization that maintains a strong mission, and vision, with the potential to make meaningful impact relating to an issue that touches them in a profound way. Many before me, with me and after me have come to recognize the global importance of Earth Day. EDN is the perfect organization with which to begin if you recognize the importance of our environment. I learned that no effort or action was too small, so I started my outreach by volunteering locally for volunteer projects. Issues including pollution, lack of clean water, and acid rain caught my attention, empowering me and my peers to set out to raise awareness within our community in any way we could.
As the organization grew, so did my desire to make an impact. Several years and countless volunteer hours later, I found myself on EDN's National Board of Directors where I was more eager than ever to participate. It seemed that each passing day brought a new issue to our attention, but our optimistic network of contributors was never discouraged. The leadership at EDN, the board of directors, and supporters, encouraged EDN to continue to educate our fellow citizens about recycling, renewable energy, and climate preservation, among countless other pressing issues.
The communal environment that EDN has taught me has helped me gain invaluable experience, helping me cultivate my ability to run my own foundation. My passion for creativity has flourished during my time at EDN, and allowed me to translate my work at Birds Nest Foundation (BNF). As a way of giving back to a cause that gave me so much, I enabled BNF to celebrate Earth Day and I pledge to continue down this path which endows our future generations. The Ground Up Campaign, a BNF program that places edible tabletop gardens in schools in order to instill healthy eating habits in children is one example of the influence EDN has had for me. As I had done during my youth, children of the millennium are also recognizing the importance of the life process of food, from seed to table. Not only does the Ground Up Campaign come with impressive physical, mental, and academic benefits, but it also compliments the values that helps Earth Day sustain its efforts year-round. The Ground Up Campaign provides tools for a hands-on, environmentally-friendly activity, and encourage students to share their newfound knowledge with friends, family, and fellow classmates. Thus, children involved in our program learn to appreciate and contribute to Earth Day throughout the year, and their subsequent actions encourage others to do the same.
The mark of an important movement is when it garners support from citizens across the spectrum. By rekindling a passion for the one commonality we all share, EDN's impact appears profound and unmatched. Earth Day boasts the largest number of supporters for one single cause, and for good reason: it is one of the few organizations that impacts everyone in the world indiscriminatingly of their local, national, or global orientation. Be it a small-town rally or a United Nations conference, Earth Day Network serves as a vehicle for positive change from which we all learn and benefit.
As EDN President Kathleen Rogers once declared, "It's not about reflection, it's about doing things." Let these actions inspire you in the same way they have motivated one lucky girl in her childhood hobby that has now developed into this woman's career: visit www.earthdaynetwork.com and www.birdsnestfoundation.org to participate today, tomorrow, or any day.
Happy Earth Day to all... Forever!