Earth Day 2020: Learning for the Future
Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, a moment that will be marked around the world. Did you know that on the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, estimates are that 1 in 10 Americans participated in marches, protests, teach-ins, and other civic engagement activities to draw attention to environmental harm? James Scott, Professor of Political Science and Anthropology at Yale University, wrote that “All environments are intractably local,” and I believe that more than ever today.
As Lisa Tolley, Director of the North Carolina Office of Environmental Education, wrote to environmental educators in my state, “More than ever, we experience the connected nature of humans and the environment, and appreciate the importance of environmental educators in making those connections.” I am inspired as I hear about and watch our members and their organizations pivot in amazing ways to continue providing high quality education, and to plan for a future when we can again gather and experience the environment together. At that time, I believe the retooling we are doing now will broaden, deepen, and refocus our work in positive ways. Let us aspire to a future Earth Day where again, in nonpartisan ways, huge numbers of Americans engage with each other and nature in ways that result in increased environmental literacy, active civic engagement, and improved social and ecological outcomes for all.
I am so proud to be a part of the North American Association for Environmental Education and want to also take this opportunity to thank the staff for the hard work they are doing in this time. I also express gratitude to the many volunteer and paid leaders of our national partners and Affiliate organizations, and our member organizations for the ways that you are honoring the 50th Earth Day today and in the future.
NAAEE Board Chair