At DCNR, we like to say Earth Day is every day.
We are at work every day conserving land and protecting habitats; using science for ecosystem management and to learn more about geologic resources; helping communities ensure residents have places for healthy outdoor recreation; and helping people enjoy the outdoors.
And under the current circumstances, it seems people need nature more than ever. We are turning to our balconies, yards, trails, parks, and forests for fresh air, solace, and exercise.
We’ve had to delay what will be an observation of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day this year as we all stay home to do our part to protect ourselves and others.
There will be online public observations for Earth Day 50. For information on that, the best sources are EarthDay50PA and the Earth Day Network.
The Earth Day 50 theme is Climate Action. Of course, many of the actions necessary to address climate change need to be done on a large scale -- by business and industry, cities, and countries.
But individual actions count too. While teleworking, here are some of the thoughts from DCNR staff about the importance of Earth Day, and actions we can all take while at home to make a difference.
Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn
Humans have such a profound impact on the earth and its natural systems.
Earth Day to me represents that people can and do develop a common will and agenda to solve environmental problems.
Take time to green up your home this spring. Do an LED light bulb switch out (you can get light bulbs at the grocery store). Make a plan to reduce your own carbon footprint by 25 percent by 2025, and 50 percent by 2030.
Press Secretary Terry Brady
To me, Earth Day means respecting what I was taught to respect when I took my first steps on it.
Embrace the nearest slice of green -- plant more, mow and fertilize less -- knowing all those improved slices make for a healthier Earth.
Director of Applied Climate Science Greg Czarnecki
I was a fifth grader at Our Lady of Peace school in Erie on the first Earth Day.
There was so much passion, excitement, and commitment to making the world a better place -- I knew then and there that I wanted to make caring for the earth and its creatures my life’s work.
And while we’ve come a long way over the past 50 years, today we face an even bigger challenge than any we did back then -- climate change.
The food we buy in the grocery store can leave a pretty big carbon footprint because of the fossil fuels used for growing, processing, packaging, and shipping. So why not reduce yours by starting a vegetable garden?
Starting a vegetable garden is something the whole family can do, and planting a seed, watching it grow, and seeing the veggies end up on their dinner plate is a great way for kids to see where their food comes from.
Any scraps you have left over from the garden or from your kitchen can then be composted and used for fertilizer the following year, further reducing your carbon footprint.
You don’t need a big space and can even start one in a pot on your patio or deck. Now is a great time to plant lettuce, spinach, peas, and onions, so go out and get your hands dirty!
Office of Policy and Planning Director Nicole Faraguna
I feel like it is a perfect time to reflect on how we are not only connected to the earth and its life-sustaining resources but how we're connected to each other; what happens on earth, stays on earth, impacting all of life that exists now and into the future.
Take a moment to reflect on what you enjoy or appreciate about nature, and to explore the bits of nature you may have never noticed in your own backyard or neighborhood.
Director of the PA Wilds/Conservation Landscapes Program Meredith Hill
Earth Day to me means really taking some time to reflect on this incredible planet that we call home and the amazing way that its natural systems provide for us.
It also means service -- actively doing things to take care of our environment like offering time to local organizations, removing invasive plants and supporting pollinator species, and living more simply and consciously.
Focus attention on the amazing transformation happening in your backyard and neighborhood right now as we move into the spring season.
How many different shades of green do you see? What natural sounds do you hear? What wildflowers are just coming into bloom?
Look for little ways to improve your backyard habitat with pollinator plants or by pulling invasives, like garlic mustard (my favorite since my yard is full of it!).
And, pause for a moment or two of reflection to be grateful for this Earth and the natural environment that sustains us -- both physically and mentally.
Senior Adviser Gretchen Leslie
For me, Earth Day is just another day at the office, because as a DCNR employee, my goal is to practice what we teach.
But this year’s Earth Day is particularly poignant. It’s a stark reminder that all living things are connected, and the Earth is delicately balanced.
Sometimes it takes catastrophic events to pull people together, like it did 50 years ago.
As we have all paused our lives, it’s a remarkable opportunity to observe, reflect, and reconnect. Observe that nature is resilient, but fragile.
Reflect on our individual roles, because we all do collectively make a difference. And use this precious free time to reconnect with the plant and animal species that enrich our lives, from the backyard birds to the flowering trees. Imagine a world without them.
Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs Nate Lotze
For me, Earth Day is the perfect time to acknowledge just how incredible and unique our planet is. Our lives literally depend on the air, water, and land, and too often we take that for granted.
Pennsylvanians can celebrate Earth Day by planting native wildflowers in their yard, garden, or planter box to help bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.
Governor’s Sportsmen’s Advisor Robb Miller
For me, Earth Day is a time to give thanks to Mother Earth for the bounty we receive from her on a daily basis.
This time of year, nature is waking up all around us in a renewed form and it’s an amazing thing to witness.
I’m seeing lots of blue birds around my place. I’m building nesting boxes for them from scrap wood I have on hand.
It’s a great way to keep them in the area and they’re fun to watch, especially when they’re trying to catch bugs.
Office of Innovation and Business Transformation Director Cindy Thomas
Earth Day to me is doing what we can in our household to do our part. Every little bit helps.
For Earth Day a few years ago, I gifted myself an electric lawn mower. Not only is the electric mower reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it’s quieter, lighter, and cheaper to operate.
With those cost savings, I was able to get myself a sweet dinosaur suit that is perfect for going incognito. I don’t mind mowing the lawn anymore.
Administrative Assistant Aara Vinsh (and her daughter Aislynn)
Earth Day means ensuring that our resources and lands continue to flourish; and replacing old and diseased with young and new.
Under our current circumstances, Pennsylvanians with yards can clean up their gardens and add new plants.
Policy Specialist Shea Zwerver
Earth Day, to me, is a time to thank and celebrate nature for all its beauty and benefits received by humans.
Under the current circumstances, we can donate to non-profits who carry out environmental work and help protect and conserve our natural resources; you can order native plants online, have them shipped to you and plant them in your yard; learn and share a fact about the natural world with your children; or just take a moment to think about what this world would be without clean water.
Need more inspiration? Check the EarthDay50PA reading list.
Happy 50th Anniversary Earth Day!