What to Do for Earth Day 2020

Written by Davita Flowers-Shanklin
    Friday, 10 April 2020
What to Do for Earth Day 2020

It's hard to believe that Earth Day is right around the corner. In some ways it feels like March was years ago and that we had so much time until Earth Day. When I look back before the "Safer at Home" state order was issued, we at the Urban Ecology Center were gearing up to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day through our Earth Day of Service event. We were excited to partner with Milwaukee Riverkeeper for their 25th annual Spring River Cleanup, partner with organizations and businesses in our communities to work on projects in our parks, to partner with neighbors and schools to come together to clean up our community and celebrate the earth.

Unfortunately, this year we are unable to celebrate together with you, and we miss you already! But that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to celebrate!* Instead, I challenge each of you to think of ways you can celebrate the Earth, not just on April 22nd, but all year long.

*Just to be clear, we are NOT promoting any organized activities in parks. Stick to your own neighborhood and use the social distancing guidelines provided by the CDC. We would advise against anything that feels like a group organized activity at this time.

Did you know that each year, Earth day has a theme?

This year, the theme of Earth Day is Climate Action. According to earthday.org “The enormous challenge — but also the vast opportunities — of action on climate change have distinguished the issue as the most pressing topic for the 50th anniversary.” If 50 years ago the American people could come together to help create all of the amazing environmental protections, we can for sure come together to celebrate the earth in the time of COVID19. Any other year at this point, I would link you to an interactive map of all the events taking place around the world to celebrate Earth Day and its theme. I would show you how we are celebrating through our Earth Day of Service. But this year, large events and gatherings are not possible.

Sun made out of yellow and purple flowers.I challenge you to think creatively about how you engage with the Earth during these incredible times. And when it is safe to do so, I hope to see you all at one of our three branches volunteering with us and celebrating the earth together! Until then here are some examples of things you can do to celebrate Earth Day this year:

  • When going for walks in your neighborhood, pick up trash
  • Backyard bird watching
  • Make bird feeders and bird houses
  • Do a plant bud study and take notes and drawings of buds in your yard as they grow
  • Plant a plant or start a garden
  • Go without turning on the lights for the whole day
  • Start a compost bin (check here for instructions)
  • Download the Citizen Science app called Earth Day Challenge 2020 for toolkits and more
  • Pull garlic mustard in your yard (here's what garlic mustard looks like)
  • Build a brush pile for wildlife
  • Install a bat house
  • Build habitat for your favorite backyard animal
  • Keep your cat inside or put a bell on its collar to help keep birds safe
  • Put nature window clings on windows on your home for bird safety
  • Sign up for ebird and record bird species you see in your back yard or local park
  • Make recycled art
  • Read about environmental justice and other environmental issues of today

What are some of your ideas? Share them on social media and tag us! Or use the hashtags #somuchlife and #UECinmybackyard

Wisconsin Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes and his office encourage you to share their Earth Day celebrations all month long with these hash tags #50EarthDayStories and #CoronaOutdoorsWI

Davita Flowers-Shanklin

Davita Flowers-Shanklin

A Milwaukee Native, Davita’s love for nature came from her time spent in her neighborhood park (Washington Park), the summers spent at camp, and visiting family in the Rocky Mountains. Davita’s dreams spanned from swimming with dolphins as a marine biologist, trekking into the great savannas of Africa as a big cat vet, and breathing in lots of old dust as a Egyptologist. Dreams change, Davita got her B.A. from Macalester College and M.S. from the University of Oregon, both degrees in environmental studies with concentrations in biology, ecological restoration, and environmental justice. She loves to travel and work outside. She has two cats and loves going to the movies.


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