Celebrating Earth Day 2017

Earth Day is Saturday, April 22, and in 2020 it will be the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. In 2016, Earth Day Network set an ambitious goal of planting 7.8 billion trees – one for every person on the planet – by Earth Day 2020, with the theme for that year being “Trees for the Earth”. 2017’s theme is “Environmental and ClimatEarth Daye Literacy”, with the goal of wanting every student across the world to be an environmental and climate literate citizen by the time they graduate high school, prepared to take action and be voice for change. This is a global issue and education is the key to advocacy and advocacy is the key to change.

So that was all pretty heady, and although very important, how does that have anything to do with Walworth County? Well, there are a number of events happening in Walworth County either specifically for Earth Day or having to do with nature and the environment in some fashion. In any case, it’s a chance to get out and enjoy your surroundings, along with learning a little bit, too!

Specifically in honor of Earth Day, Gateway Technical College, on the Elkhorn Campus (and Kenosha Campus, as well), is having their annual community celebration of our planet on Saturday, April 22, from 10am-2pm. The event began in 2008 on Gateway’s Kenosha Campus and was extended to their Elkhorn Campus in 2012. Gateway celebrates our environment with a day of free family fun of displays, workshops/demonstrations, and hands-on activities that include:

  • Earth Day Scavenger Hunt
  • Kohl’s Wild Theatre – a 30-minute mix of short skits using a variety of animal puppets and featuring the importance of food to both animals and people, with topics including healthy eating, urban gardening, sustainable seafood and the food chain.
  • Petting Zoo
  • Kids’ Crafts: earth-friendly crafts, plant flowers for Mother’s Day, make birdhouses and more
  • Kids’ Outdoor Fitness Challenge
  • Refreshments (for purchase)
  • Door prizes and giveaways, including bare-root Oak tree saplings
  • Plant Sale – get a head start on your summer planting
  • Nature Discovery Trail Hike – walk through this self-guided tour and learn about the native plants and animals that call it home
  • Works to learn how to be environmentally conscious: “Canning Without Turning Green – learn about canning food safety”, “Native Birds – learn about the native birds of Wisconsin and their habitats”, and “Car Care Workshop – keep your car operating in the most environmentally friendly way possible”
  • Informational Booths: Lakeland Animal Shelter, Sierra Club, Citizen’s Climate Lobby, Gateway’s Sustainable Student Club, and Zilla Makes Vegan Easy and Wild Ones-Kettle Moraine Chapter
  • Shop the Green/Farmers Market – buy food, or art and products made from recycled or reused materials
  • Recycle Center – drop off your recyclable items and help the plant: electronics recycling (tube monitor and tube TVs have a $20/unit charge, otherwise free), prescription eye glasses, tennis shoes

It’s the bee’s knees – what’s that phrase even mean?! How about learning about bees, as tomorrow, WBee collecting pollenednesday, April 19, from 1-2:30pm, at Heritage Hall in Elkhorn, the Walworth County Historical Society will feature the fascinating life of bees and beekeeping. Presenter David Koester started beekeeping as a hobby in his retirement and it has grown to be a passionate cause for the preservation of bees. David will show his honey operation, from installing bees in the hives during early spring to extracting honey at summer’s end. There is no admission charge, but donations are gratefully accepted by the Historical Society. Come away with an appreciation of one of nature’s creatures and a perspective you might not have had on the sweet treat we all love.

Great Refractor 7Reach for the stars, the moon and the planets! Can’t quite touch them? Well how about being able to take a look at them through a really large telescope? Happening tomorrow, April 19, 8:30-10:30pm, and Thursday, April 20, 8:14-9:45pm, is the opportunity to look through a large telescope at Yerkes Observatory, Williams Bay. Yerkes Observatory monthly during the year on select weekday and weekend evenings offers observing sessions with their 40-inch diameter refractor telescope, the largest in the world of its type, and with their 24-inch diameter reflector telescope, weather permitting. Both telescopes were formerly used for astronomical research and are now available for public observing opportunities. Space is limited and subject to availability, so reservations are required. For an affordable, general night sky tour and introduction to astronomy, I suggest the 24-inch reflector telescope ($37.50/person). For a truly once-in-a-lifetime and unforgettable experience using the same telescope as some very famous astronomers over the past century used, then I’d say go for the 40-inch refractor telescope ($100/person). Either telescope you chose, what a way for seeing the celestial wonders of the evening sky as they change through the seasons and to think that a famous astronomer (or two or five or whatever) once used these, too, and discovered things never before seen!

tree_climbingGo climb a tree! Seriously, I mean it… At House in the Wood, Delavan, on Thursday, April 20, from 5-7pm, you can travel back to your childhood and climb a tree! Using ropes and harnesses, climbers of all ages and abilities can climb into the tops of the towering oak trees all over the grounds. Not to worry, unlike our childhood, okay I’m talking about mine…, where you just started at the bottom and climbed to the top without a care or thought to anything else, there are trained and certified staff that will provide a thorough and comprehensive tutorial on how to use the equipment and have a fun, yet safe, experience in the trees. All equipment is provided and you just need to wear comfortable clothing and shoes, preferably closed-toe and with a hard sole, and bring your sense of adventure! It’s fun, it’s great exercise without being thought of that way, it’s a great connection to nature and just putting you back in that day of being a kid again. You’re never too old to climb a tree, but preference is for ages 7 and up for this event.

Ice-Harvesting-1-Marking-Cakes-for-cuttingThinking an iced cold drink of lemonade or tea or soda would be good about now as you climb down out of that tree? Well, have you thought about where the ice comes from when you don’t have an ice maker in the freezer or your plastic ice tray breaks and you haven’t gotten a new one yet? What about in the days of yore before there were even freezers, let alone refrigerators? On Thursday, April 20, from 7-8:30pm, the Delavan Historical Society with feature Carol March McLernon, local teacher and children’s author, as she discusses ice harvesting on Geneva Lake and tells about her book, “Ice for Sale”. “Ice for Sale” tells of the beginning of the ice industry in Massachusetts during the time of George Washington. Southeastern Wisconsin had many ice companies, with the largest and longest running one established by Otto Jacobs, harvesting ice from Button’s Bay on Geneva Lake during the Depression, with his last harvest being in 1946. Carol March McLernon will talk about the tools of the trade, the use of horses in the industry and the dangers of the ice harvesting business.

kishwauketoeAnyone ever told you to take a hike? Not sure it was always meant in a nice way, but on Friday, April 21, from 9-10:15am, and offered every Friday morning from April through October, Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy has guided hikes that are completely meant in a nice way. Kishwauketoe is the largest watershed on Geneva Lake, offering the many natural environments in one place. Kishwauketoe represents a rare and evolving lakeside ecological area that is open 365 days as a place to visit, enjoy and learn. The land on which Kishwauketoe sits was purchased in 1989 and formerly dedicated as a protected conservancy in July 1990. It is full of Native American history, as the Potawatomi once inhabited the area. The name Kishwauketoe was chosen because of its Potawatomi origin and loosely translated means “clear water” or “lake of the sparkling water’. Spend a short time enjoying Kishwauketoe, learn a thing or two about the area and then plan on coming back for a longer wandering around, soaking in all the grace and beauty of nature that exists there.

So from hikes, to bees, to climbing trees, to viewing stars and planets, to ice (cream), to all things Earth Day, there’s plenty to choose from to do in Walworth County as Earth Day approaches this Saturday, April 22. What will you choose to do and with the variety of activities and dates available, why not do them all? I’m thinking I will… See you there! And there. And, oh yah, there…  🙂

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