Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day

Posted 5/2/20

Memories of the inaugural celebration in 1970

From Shaun Sensiba of the Basket Historical Society in Long Eddy, NY:

I was only six and in first grade, but I can tell you what I did on the first …

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Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day

Posted

Memories of the inaugural celebration in 1970

From Shaun Sensiba of the Basket Historical Society in Long Eddy, NY:

I was only six and in first grade, but I can tell you what I did on the first Earth Day at Westside Elementary school in Kimberly, Wisconsin. We were very proud that our senator was the founder of Earth Day.  We spent the whole day with lessons about our environment.

Our town and neighboring towns had paper mills that dumped their waste, including dioxin, directly into the river.  My father told me to never, ever eat a fish from the river.  Garbage was routinely thrown out of the car window.  We lived in the suburbs and didn’t really consider that it was part of nature.

On the first Earth Day, we crossed the street from the elementary school and hiked around a one-acre lot with second-growth scrub trees.  It would have been used for houses (as the lots on all other sides were), but the land was kind of swampy and worthless.  The teachers had people at different spots along the way show us unique plants, birds and other animals in that little scrap of land.  They also showed us the effects of abusing the land and water.  We picked up garbage, and at the end of the day, we planted a tree in front of our school. 

From Sullivan County Historian John Conway:

Professors at Sullivan County Community College (which at that time had yet to build its permanent campus and was still located in South Fallsburg) participated in a nationwide “environmental teach-in” that was part of the celebration of the initial Earth Day. Each class at the college that day was supposed to be devoted in some way to a discussion of issues relating to the environment.

Livingston Manor High School students staged a clean-up of the Willowemoc as part of that first Earth Day celebration.

Ferndale poultry man Max Brender, one of the leading businessmen in Sullivan County, described that first Earth Day as “the greatest thing in this debris-littered earth of ours that has happened.” Brender called upon the poultry industry to clean up its act and lead the quest to find ways to cut contaminants released into the environment.

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