Celebrate Earth Day with your kids
The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970, with protests around the nation urging Congress to do something about air and water pollution. It achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from all political stripes to create the political movement that led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. It drew participation from more than 10,000 high schools and grade schools.
It has since become a lot less political, more of a feel-good time to remember what we love about nature and why. Some environmentalists complain about that, especially as it becomes an excuse to sell stuff. But kids are still interested in how they can shape their planet.
Our colleague, environmental reporter Craig Pittman, offered these tips on how to use Earth Day as a chance to teach kids how they can help the environment. And below I offer some local events going on this weekend where you can bring along the kids to clean up a waterway, learn about our local environment or learn something new.
Craig's tips are
Show them how to conserve resources: Teach them to turn off lights, television sets, computers, game systems and other electronics when they aren't using them.
Show them the wonders of nature: Instead of a theme park or indoor play place, try taking them to a state park.
Show them their impact. Use a Web site with a carbon footprint calculator like this one or an eco footprint calculator like this one This lets your child can figure out how the way you live affects everyone. These Web sites also offer tips on how to reduce your footprint too.
Around Tampa Bay there are numerous environmental celebrations and events this week to remind us to be kind to Mother Nature.
Dunedin Life and Light Lantern Festival and Parade: The sky over Dunedin will be lit with floating lanterns at this Earth Day celebration with live music by area bands, a plant and garden sale, lantern making workshops, sustainability demonstrations, a kid’s village, drum circle, seed swap and a lantern parade. Free (vendor items and LED light for lantern additional). Pioneer Park, Main Street and Douglas Avenue, Dunedin. (727) 239-0420. Noon-9 p.m. Sunday.
Seminole Heights Bicycle Swap Meet: Celebrate Earth Day by getting a bicycle or buying parts to fix the one you already own. Food trucks will be at this outdoor bazaar with vendors buying and selling bicycles, bike parts, clothing and related equipment. Free. Sherry’s Yesterdaze, 5207 N Florida Ave., Tampa. (813) 468-0064. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday.
Earth Day Wildlife Safari: Children up to age 12 can celebrate Earth Day by studying the snakes, baby raccoons, owls, opossums and gopher tortoise found along the preserve’s 1-mile trail. Last tour starts at 2 p.m. $5. Brooker Creek Preserve, 3940 Keystone Road, Tarpon Springs. (727) 934-2680. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.
Great American Cleanup: Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful needs volunteers. Duties include recycling drives, picking up trash, removing graffiti, planting trees and community gardens. Boaters and kayakers are also needed for water cleanup. Visit KeepTampaBayBeautiful.org to view the list of locations and to register. Free. E. G. Simmons Park, 2401 19th Ave. NW, Ruskin. (813) 221-8733. 9 a.m.-noon Saturday.
Gulfport Earthfest: Gulfport pays tribute to the Earth and its water at this family festival with face painting, a water-themed walking parade, live music, dancing, drum circles, story telling, a touch tank, fishing fun, arts and crafts tables and vendors. Free. Clymer Park, Gulfport Blvd. S and Beach Blvd. S, Gulfport. (727) 744-7051. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.
Earth Day 2012 at Homosassa Springs: Learn about butterflies, bats, bears and native plants from exhibitors throughout the park. Included with park admission. $13, $5 ages 6-12, 5 and younger free. Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park, 4150 S Suncoast Blvd., Homosassa. (352) 628-5343. 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday.
And here's some some of our local attractions are doing for Earth day
- Earth Day at MOSI: This week’s Idea Zone Workshop theme is “Eco Totes.” Customize a shopping bag with high-tech embroidery for a nominal fee. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Also, kids in grades 1-5 can have fun with Recycled Art and Games by using recycled treasures to make board games, jewelry and sculptures in a salute to Earth Day. $20, $15 members (museum admission optional and additional). 1-3 p.m. Sunday. Museum admission is $20.95 adults (13-59), $16.95 child (2-12), $18.95 seniors (60+). Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. (813) 987-6000.
- Celebrate Planet Earth at Glazer Museum: Celebration at the children’s museum includes animal-inspired exercises (10:45 a.m.), a recycled art lab (11 a.m.), a wacky recyclable challenge and obstacle course (noon and 4 p.m.), oil spill exploration (2 p.m.) and a “going green and getting creative” session (3 p.m.). $15, $12.50 military/seniors, $9.50 children, under 1 free. Glazer Children’s Museum, 110 W Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa. (813) 443-3861. 10:45 a.m.-4 p.m. today-Sunday.
- Earth Day at the Aquarium: Find out what the aquarium is doing to help the Earth and easy ways that you can help, plus meet eco-friendly vendors and take environmentally focused tours and shows. $21.95, $18.95 for seniors 60+, $16.95 for kids 3-12. Florida Aquarium, 701 Channelside Drive, Tampa. (813) 273-4000. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
- Earth Day at USF Botanical Gardens: Environmental and sustainability exhibits, plus vendors, live music, foods for sale and a kid’s activity area. Free (food/drink additional). University of South Florida Botanical Gardens, 12210 USF Pine Drive, Tampa. (813) 974-2329. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.
- Zoo Enrichment Day for Earth Day: Spend the day with the animals and participate in a variety of animal enrichment activities, educational displays and exhibits. Included with regular admission. $23.95, $21.95 seniors, $18.95 ages 3-11, 2 and younger free. Lowry Park Zoo, 1101 W Sligh Ave., Tampa. (813) 935-8552. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
Follow us on Twitter @WhoaMomma