national public lands day

60,000 Hours, Oh My!

kids in forest

On September 29, more than 5,000 kids donated more than 60,000 hours on habitat -related service projects. All these hours mean healthier places for plants and animals to live. Some kids raked leaves and planted bulbs, while others cleaned up vacant lots. Acorns and walnuts were collected and put in nurseries to grow new trees. You don’t have to wait till next year’s Public Lands Day to get involved. Contact you local nature center and see if they need volunteers. What about organizing a cleanup project for earth month?

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Digging the Earth

By Kathy Sykes

When I think about my Grandpa Lars, I always remember him digging in his garden, harvesting new red potatoes, and dill, as a good Swede, as well as lettuce, tomatoes, raspberries, and many other fruits and vegetables. His green thumb was inherited by my mother, Marguerite, who mastered the art of gardening vegetables, herbs and flowers. She not only inspired our family to love gardening, but also neighbors, who soon were planting their gardens too.

People on foot, bike or in cars often stopped, smiled and thanked us for our garden. Occasionally we received anonymous notes addressed to the “Residents of 2100 Rowley” thanking us for the beautifully cared for plants. We took pride in our mom’s treasure and in our small family contributions of weeding and watering the garden. Getting my hands dirty from digging in the ground was almost as much fun as using the hose to water seedlings and my siblings.

I also remember stepping outside to cut fresh flowers for the dinner table or sprigs of parsley, or basil that added the final touch and fragrance to her delicious dishes. I especially recall the crabapple tree that mom’s co-workers bought for her when my Grandfather died. Now the tree stands tall and provides much appreciated shade on hot and humid summer days.

The demands and distractions of modern society deter too many of us from digging in the ground. Time constraints and other dangers keep us indoors. Nowadays, children spend less time outside in unstructured play, while adults spend more time commuting in our sprawling cities.

This weekend we have the opportunity to share our knowledge of gardening and love of trees with youth and reminisce about the changes that have occurred during our lifetime. Getting off the couch, away from our blackberries and TVs and outside to appreciate our parks, local woods and green space is a worthy endeavor. Saturday, September 24th is National Public Lands Day. This event is celebrated annually and was conceived of by the National Environmental Education Foundation. EPA is one many sponsoring agencies. Volunteer to plant a tree and bring along your camera to capture the fun of digging in the dirt.

You can enter the Volunteers in Action Photo Contest.

Plant a tree. Dig the Earth! She will thank you.

About the author: Kathy Sykes began working for the U.S. EPA in 1998. Since 2002, she has served as the Senior Advisor for the Aging Initiative.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Roll Up Your Sleeves and Have Fun!

by Lina Younes

River-CleanupHow many times do you want to do something special on the weekend to enjoy the great outdoors? How many times do you want to volunteer to give back to the community? How often do you look for special outings where the entire family can have some fun while enjoying the fresh air? Well, this Saturday, September 25th, there will be numerous opportunities throughout the country, including Puerto Rico, to volunteer. There are two major events, National Public Lands Day (NPLD) and International Coastal Cleanup Day (ICC) taking place at a park or waterfront near you, I’m not talking exclusively about big expansive lands with majestic vistas. These public lands can be at an urban park in your very neighborhood.

This year, EPA will be joining forces with the National Environmental Education Foundation to encourage employees to volunteer for these park cleanups and plant some trees. For those of us living the Washington metropolitan area we will have an added bonus. Administrator Lisa P. Jackson will be joining us this Saturday morning at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in Washington, DC. I had been meaning to go to this park for quite some time, but never actually ventured there. Now I will have a chance to roll up my sleeves and have some fun doing something positive for the environment.

Also this Saturday, not far from Kenilworth Park, some of my colleagues will be volunteering at another event in Anacostia as part of the International Coastal Cleanup Day effort. For that occasion, EPA will be partnering with the Ocean Conservancy to remove debris from our waterways. We urge you to search both sites to find events where you can take the whole family.

Coincidentally, yesterday I attended a meeting on environmental education where EPA’s Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe spoke about the importance of hands-on activities to instill the values of environmental stewardship and conservation among our youth. I would like to share the quote with you: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” Hopefully these volunteer events this weekend will serve as opportunities to make our children environmentally responsible citizens at an early age

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.


Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.