By Jade Henschel, Angela White, Alexis Beck, & Madison Heun
Earth Day was first celebrated on April 22, 1970, and Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson founded it. Twenty million Americans participated in the first event.
Fifty-one years later, Earth Day is still being celebrated in the U.S. Since 1990, it has been celebrated worldwide.
With the Cofrin Memorial Arboretum right on campus, the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay students and community members can celebrate Earth Day with the spaces right around them. There are more than six miles of trails that encircle the UWGB campus.
Bobbie Webster, Natural Areas Ecologist at the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity, says that while utilizing the arboretum trails, there are some things to keep in mind.
Webster explains that there are no longer trash bins along the trails, as the arboretum is meant to be a natural habitat and trash bins made it seem more like a city park.
Making sure to take your trash and also picking up litter is helpful.
Walking pets in the arboretum is not allowed.
Webster explains that there is research on how dogs can infect wildlife, such as birds. According to “Four-legged friend or foe? Dog walking displaces native birds from natural areas,” in large-scale experiments, areas that permitted dogs on trails experienced a 41 percent reduction in the total number of birds. The Cofrin Memorial Arboretum policy page says that dogs and wildlife share diseases, such as rabies and Lyme disease, and dogs can destroy native plants and introduce and spread invasive species.
Another tip for visiting the arboretum is that if visitors were recently at a place with invasive species, they should brush off their shoes before entering the trial, as trails are a way that invasive species can spread.
For students looking to celebrate Earth Day on their own, Webster provided many options.
“Being out in nature is the first step…start small, it can be easy to get overwhelmed that you’re not doing everything perfectly,” Webster says.
She also talked about a variety of events in the area, such as the Fox Valley Climate Justice Rally in Appleton on April 24 and the 2021 Earth Day Virtual Learning Event on April 22 and 23 by the University of Wisconsin – Madison’s Nelson Institute, named after Senator Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earth Day.
UWGB Residence Life is hosting a clean-up event on April 24, and there is a community clean-up event on April 25.
Webster says that environmental awareness and biodiversity are important because “we all need clean water and clean air.”
Webster says that greater biodiversity “makes ecosystems healthier and more resilient.”
If you’d like to join an informal volunteer list for the Cofrin Arboretum, you can contact Webster here.
Cofrin Arboretum Center for Biodiversity, University of Wisconsin–Green Bay, http://www.uwgb.edu/biodiversity/