Student Voice


February 5, 2023




Focus, care for environment stays with planet throughout world’s history

April 18, 2013

It is finally that time of year again. The time when the snow melts and it begins to get warmer outside as everything thaws out.

The snow on the trees soon becomes replaced with budding leaves and flowers, and the grass turns from that disgusting brown into a sharp, luscious green.  At least we hope that will happen soon. While this seasonal change is widely appreciated by many people, it is not often that people will put aside a special day to appreciate the environment and all of the nature around them.

That is what Earth Day is for. Worldwide, now in April, this day is used to increase awareness and appreciation of Earth’s natural environment. It is never too late to become aware of the natural environment around us and appreciate what there is.

Earth Day has only been recently added to the yearly calendar; it was just added in 1970. John McConnell in a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Conference in San Francisco proposed the concept of Earth Day just a year earlier in 1969. He also proposed that the first day of spring officially be March 21, in the northern hemisphere, a day after the spring equinox, which was the original date of observance. The name was chosen simply because the unanimous decision was that it was an obvious name that stuck.

In 1970, United States Sen. Gaylord Nelson, from Wisconsin, founded a separate Earth Day, observed on April 22. This was the date of an environmental teach-in that same year. This teach-in came about after Sen. Nelson, an environmental and conservational activist, had witnessed the extreme devastation from the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill and inspiration from student anti-war campaigns.

These teach-ins were also inspired by the huge success on the Vietnam War teach-ins. Over 20 million people participated in the teach-in that year.

Originally, Earth Day was only observed in the United States, but before long that changed. The original national Earth Day coordinator Denis Hayes and his organization turned Earth Day into an international holiday in 1990.

This included organized events pertaining to the day in 141 different countries. In addition, numerous communities not only celebrated Earth Day, but they made it into Earth Week. Earth Week consisted of week activities focused on environmental issues. Today, Earth Day is observed in more than 175 countries and by more than 50 million people.

People used the Internet as a principal Earth Day organizing tool for the first time in 2000. It was approached with the ambitious spirit of the first Earth Day and the activists in 1990. This was useful for organizing events around the world. Kelly Evans served as the 2000 campaign’s national director, and Leonardo DiCaprio hosted the event. Despite the cold, rainy day that the event took place on, there was a turnout of around 400,000 participants, and the campaign reached millions of people and organizations around the world. To date, however, the largest Earth Day observance on record was in 2007, attracting over 1 billion people.

Today, the Earth Day Network exists in order to turn it into an annual sustainable event rather that something occurring every ten years. Earth Day USA was first formed in 1990 by Nelson and Bruce Anderson of New Hampshire. They coordinated Earth Day celebrations through 1995 and launched their website in order to raise awareness. Once the 25th anniversary was celebrated in 1995, the Earth Day Network took over, launched by Denis Hayes. Once the millennium approached, he focused on two campaigns surrounding global warming and the push for clean energy. This is still a focus and issue today, and ways to establish a greater environment is constantly being enforced.

There are many ways to observe Earth Day and stay aware of the natural environment. This could range from recycling and saving water to organizing an Earth Day event, promoting appreciation for Earth and establishing environmental issues.

Whether you are involved extensively, or just a little bit, doing the little things will make a huge impact on the natural environment. Stop awhile and take in all of the nature around, especially now that spring has almost arrived. There is a lot we take for granted that is actually quite beautiful.

Cristin Dempsey is an English major and music minor from Eagan, Minn. She enjoys writing, playing the flute and swimming. After college she would like to pursue a career as an editor.