By Amber Tucker
Earth Day was last month but since we like to tout that every day is Earth Day here at EPA, I am safe in posting this now. We also love it when the “official” Earth Day rolls around. Each year on April 22nd, people across the globe participate in various events and activities to raise awareness and promote the environmental movement. 2014 marks the 44th Earth Day Observance.
Prior to the first Earth Day in 1970, there was no EPA, no Clean Air Act, no Clean Water Act. There were no legal or regulatory mechanisms to protect our environment. It was legal and even common for black plumes of toxins to fill the sky, and tons of hazardous waste to be dumped directly into waterways. These practices had gone on for so long, that finally the detrimental effects on environmental resources could no longer go unnoticed, and concerned citizens felt compelled to take action to protect their environment. In spring 1970, Senator Gaylord Nelson created Earth Day as a way to force this issue onto the national agenda. Twenty million Americans demonstrated in different U.S. cities, and their efforts paid off tremendously! In December 1970, Congress authorized the creation of a new federal agency to tackle environmental issues, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
In response to the expanding public demand for cleaner air, water, and land, President Richard Nixon and Congress established the U.S. EPA. EPA was tasked with the challenging goal of repairing the damage already done to the environment and to establish guidelines to help Americans in making a cleaner and safer environment a reality.
Fast forward 44 years to today…from its 20 million strong 1970 roots, more than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world, according to the Earth Day Network (http://www.earthday.org). On a local scale, EPA is fortunate to be able to participate in local community events each year.
The Sac & Fox Nation of Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska held their 2014 annual Earth Day event on Tuesday, April 22nd at their community building in Reserve, KS. The Sac & Fox Environmental Department has hosted this event for several years in an effort to actively engage children of various ages in learning about the environment. They have worked closely with and invited outside agencies to participate in this important event.
On Tuesday April 22nd, approximately 90 children ranging from 1st through 3rd grades came to the Sac & Fox community building to celebrate Earth Day. Three staff members from EPA Region 7, Julia Cacho, Heather Duncan, and Amber Tucker, were privileged to be able to attend and take part in these festivities. The Sac & Fox Environmental Department secured presenters on a variety of environmental topics such as surface water quality, air quality, Brownfields, recycling, Squaw Creek Waterfowl, and the water cycle. Environmental Department staff also developed program specific presentations to showcase the Sac and Fox Nation Environmental Department and its functions. All of the attendees were able to soak up some Vitamin D out on the lawn during lunch, where lunch was served (in recyclable brown boxes). The day was topped off by crafts activities and a very welcomed appearance from Smokey the Bear. Smokey was a big hit, and took pictures with the children, which were printed and incorporated into one of the crafts for the children to take home. At the end of the day, 90 happy kiddos and several tired presenters were evidence of a successful Earth Day event!
For additional information about Earth Day, please visit http://www.epa.gov/earthday/index.html.
Amber Tucker is an Environmental Scientist who serves as a NEPA reviewer for EPA Region 7. She is a graduate of Haskell University and serves as Region 7′s Special Emphasis Program Manager for Native American Employment Programs.