Ah, mothers. Such selfless beings! They give us life, take care of our boo-boos, dress us for school, read us bedtime stories, and make sure we eat something green every now and then. When’s the last time you thanked your mother for all she’s done for you?
No, this isn’t a post about Mother’s Day. That’s still a month away and we certainly aren’t that organized. No, we’re talking about Mother EARTH Day!
Earth Day begin in 1970 in the United States in response to a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California that killed thousands of animals. Earth Day is celebrated on April 22nd of each year and is designed to raise awareness and support for environmental protection.
Fun fact: While the initial proposal called for Earth Day to be celebrated on March 21st, the first day of spring, the current date was chosen by Senator Gaylord Nelson because it did not fall during school exams or spring breaks and thus would allow for students to participate in “environmental teach-ins”.
So how can you recognize and celebrate Earth Day? We thought you’d never ask! Here are a few of our top suggestions:
Take an Ultimate Journey!
Our favorite suggestion (but we’re biased) is to facilitate some lessons from Ultimate Journey, one of BGCA’s oldest and most successful STEM programs! Activities were developed in partnership with the National Park Service. Boys & Girls Club staff can download the facilitator’s guide on BGCA.net. Flip through the guide and try out any of the lessons that you think would be most appealing to your youth. We love “Ecosystem Heroes” which helps youth discover the benefits they get from nature and ways they can help the environment. In “Put a Price Tag on a Tree” and “How Big is Your Carbon Footprint?” youth get to practice their math skills and discover ways to positively impact their environment. In “Parks in My Community” and “Take a Walk on the Wild Side”, youth get to discover the parks and wildlife in their own backyards!
As a special treat for our ClubX Blog readers who may not be Club staff, we are offering “Ecosystem Heroes” as a FREE download! Click here to get a PDF of this activity (and be sure to check out this post for another free download and more information about Ultimate Journey).
Tech it up with MyFuture!
Want to incorporate a little bit more technology into your activities? Check out the MyFuture Ultimate Journey Contest the week of April 22-26! Youth can earn badges from doing different activities, and some of the activities are brand spankin’ new! In “Let it Grow” members discover where their food comes from, and in “It’s in the Past” members learn about real-life heroes and explore the history of their community. Check them out for yourself! (And spoiler alert: there will be prizes!)
While only Boys & Girls Club members are able to save their work and are eligible to win, activities can be accessed by anyone.
Learn about endangered species!
What do the Bengal Tiger, Black Spider Monkey, and Blue Whale all have in common? Sadly, they are all endangered species. *sad trombone* The theme of this year’s Earth Day is “Protect Our Species”, so why not have your youth team up and research a threatened or endangered species and present to the group? Animal Planet has some great resources to get kids started, and for each animal they have “How you can help” links which will come in handy for those youth whose activist spirit will be fired up by this project! You can use this activity idea with various ages or make it more complex. Younger youth can create a posterboard about the animal they choose, or older youth can make and give a PowerPoint presentation.
Go viral with the #Trashtag Challenge!
Challenges on social media aren’t always positive, but one that went viral in 2019 is a GREAT one for youth! To complete the #Trashtag Challenge, take before pictures of an area full of litter and trash heaps along with after pictures of what they look like cleaned up. People then share the photos on social media with the hashtag #trashtag. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake Tooele Club Torch Club participated back in March, and they are challenging other Torch Clubs to do the same!
How do you plan to celebrate Earth Day this year? What are your favorite activities that promote environmental science and Earth care? Let us know in the comments below, on the BGCA Youth Development Facebook page, or email ClubXBlog@bgca.org to share!