The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, marked a turning point for American environmentalism—20 million Americans participated in the nationwide event that many consider the catalyst for the modern environmental movement.
Today, Earth Day still lives on, and although its popularity may not be as widespread as in 1970, there are millions of participants across the country, including many from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.
In fact, this year UW Oshkosh will celebrate the planet and its many resources during the entire week of April 20-28. UW Oshkosh’s “Earth Week” will consist of several events that will take place at various locations around campus.
The week kicks off with UW Oshkosh’s annual tree planting, an event that has helped earn Oshkosh a “Tree Campus USA” distinction from the National Arbor Day Foundation every year since 2011. The trees will be planted at different areas on campus starting at 10:20 a.m. on Monday, April 20.
The following morning, UW Oshkosh will run an e-waste recycling event. Students, staff and community members are encouraged to stop by the Blackhawk Commons parking lot from 7:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. to drop off their electronic waste.
“We’re asking to people to bring their e-junk in,” Aimee Niendorf, director of the University’s Renewable Energy Institute, said. “Although we’re not taking large home appliances or batteries, things like computers, cell phones and televisions will be recycled free of charge. Any working cell phones will be donated to Christine Ann Center for use in 911 calls.”
On the morning of Earth Day–April 22–Shapiro Park, which is located just at the edge of campus near the Alumni Welcome and Conference Center, will be rededicated to former UW Oshkosh professor Jacob Shapiro and four of his students, all of whom lost their lives in a tragic accident in 1970.
UWO Sustainability Coordinator Brad Spanbauer said the brief dedication ceremony will mark the beginning of a five-year beautification plan that aims to spruce up the small park located on the Fox River near the UWO Environmental Research and Innovation Center (ERIC) lab.
“I think its important to honor this person who was really an active member of the University,” Spanbauer said. “The campus was really affected by the deaths, and this dedication only reaffirms our principles and beliefs of sustainability while also tying that to this really important part of history.”
After the dedication, the Earth Day festivities will begin outside Reeve Union at 11:30 a.m. There will be live music, presentations and even free bike tune-ups sponsored by local shops.
UWO Sustainability Director Brian Kermath said that the University celebrates things like Earth Week because of its sincere commitment to sustainability on both a student and administrative level.
“We’re trying to get a little more of a buzz going on about Earth Week this year,” Kermath said. “We want to get people out and thinking about it. We want to reach more people, and I think that will be possible with an outdoor festival when people can come and go on their own.”
Earth Week events continue through April 28; check out the full schedule of events.