Activists give the earth a week-long celebration

Douglas Rojas

Although today is the official day to honor the planet, members of the University community said they will not only observe Earth Day, but support an entire week of activities.
“Earth Week provides a diversity of themes,” said Julie Flotten, a graduate student in outdoor education and the program adviser for the Center for Outdoor Adventures. “It provides ways for people to get involved in environmental issues, celebrating and having fun doing it,” she said.
Earth Week, which began Monday, is meant to raise awareness of environmental issues such as nuclear power, alternative energy and consumption of natural resources.
“Earth Week is a way to remind people that there are issues beyond school; to open up their eyes that there’s more to do than recycling,” said Kristi Kelso, a senior in natural resources and environmental studies.
The celebration includes several speeches and lectures by scholars and environmentalists, clean-up events at the Mississippi River and wetlands, games and a concert today to celebrate Earth Day.
The concert is the second annual “Earth Gig.” It will be held 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Terrace Cafe in the St. Paul Student Center.
Events during Earth Week involve extensive programming and partnership among different University offices and student organizations, said Marlene Vernon, assistant director of the St. Paul Student Center.
University organizations have played a more prominent role in Earth Week since the early ’90s, when for the first time activities were coordinated among the three University student unions, the Bell Museum and several colleges on campus.
The University celebration is sponsored by the St. Paul Student Center through the Center for Outdoor Adventures and the College of Natural Resources.
This year marks the first direct involvement of the College of Natural Resources in the organizing and sponsoring of Earth Week. Because of this, this year’s week is officially “Natural Resource and Earth Week” at the University, said Martin Moen, coordinator of communications of the college.
According to Moen, this week’s events have several objectives. Organizers said they want to spur discussion about environmental issues and recognize individual and group efforts in keeping up with natural resources and environmental issues.
Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970 after Sen. Gaylord Nelson, D-Wis., pushed for a more extensive effort for including environmental issues in the government’s agenda. The celebration has also achieved international recognition.