"Our goal is not just an environment of clean air and water and scenic beauty. The objective is an environment of decency, quality, and mutual respect for all other human beings and all other living creatures." That's what U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson said when he launched the very first Earth Day back in the spring of 1970. With roughly 20 million Americans taking part in that first Earth Day—from more than 10,000 schools and 1,000 communities across the country, bringing together all walks of life—the event was a bigger success than ever anticipated.
I had the honor of meeting and listening to Senator Nelson when he came to talk to The Nature Conservancy in the spring of 2004, just a year before his death. Though older, frailer, and bound to a wheelchair, Senator Nelson had not lost his impact or might. With quiet conviction he told the story of Earth Day, and why indeed it's critical we continue to gather together on April 22 every year and raise awareness and appreciation for our environment.
After all, as Nelson said in 1995 on the 25th Anniversary of Earth Day, our natural world and our health and wealth are intrinsically tied together: "The wealth of the nation is its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats, and biodiversity . . . that's all there is. That's the whole economy. That's where all the economic activity and jobs come from. These biological systems are the sustaining wealth of the world."
And so, year after year, we have had the privilege and obligation of carrying on Nelson's vision. This year is no exception. From tree plantings to trash pick-ups to oyster restoration events and beyond, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation is in the field getting our hands dirty with the help of extraordinary volunteers all in the name of restoring our waterways—and not just on Earth Day, but every day. Take a look at some upcoming events we have all around the watershed—come join us as we celebrate Nelson, the Bay, and our Earth.
- Saturday, April 27 and/or Saturday, May 11: Come plant some trees with us in Maryland's Jones Falls and Chester River Watersheds! Trees are critical in reducing soil erosion, reducing downstream flooding, and sequestering carbon to help with climate change. Get outside and do something great for our planet.
- Saturday, June 1: It's Clean the Bay Day! This annual event, 31 years in the making, rallies thousands of Virginians together on one day to clean up the Commonwealth's rivers, streams, and shorelines. Learn more about this awesome day and how you can be a part of it.
- Saturday, June 1-8: It's Lancaster Clean Water Week, and we're a proud sponsor, celebrating Pennsylvania's rivers and streams and ways we can restore and protect them. Take a look at the clean water week lineup.
- Ongoing throughout the summer from Saturday, June 8-Saturday August 3: Join us for a workshop and learn how to become a Virginia Oyster Gardener! Our water-filtering oysters are key to saving the Bay. Come learn why and how you can help.
- See more volunteer event listings here.
Earlier today, CBF President Will Baker joined Senator Cardin, Congressman Sarbanes, Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley, Chesapeake Bay Commission's Ann Swanson, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman, and the Chesapeake Conservancy's Joel Dunn in downtown Annapolis to talk about the importance of restoring and protecting our Chesapeake Bay now and for future generations on this 2019 Earth Day.