I realize we are all getting older, but it is odd to think that I was actually alive when the first Earth Day happened – April 22, 1970. My views with regard to the environment have drastically changed over the years as we learn more about our relationship with the environment and how our behaviors have a long-term effect on the world. For instance, now I take time to consider each item I throw away and evaluate its 1) recyclability, 2) reuse possibility, 3) whether it has any hazardous components and 4) its life cycle in a landfill. And, while this seems like a lot to think about during the discarding process, it has actually become second nature. However, I remember a time in my youth when none of these questions would have ever occurred to me. Thankfully, education and social awareness through events like Earth Day has awakened my connectedness to the world and the environment. Now I can truly appreciate the natural wonders around me and be a part of local efforts to preserve and protect them.
In conjunction with this year’s Earth Day, the 8th Annual Viera Wetlands Nature Festival will take place right here in our own backyard. Here is some information from Brevard County regarding the event:
“Supporting Viera’s Natural Wonders” is the theme for this year’s 8th Annual Viera Wetlands Nature Festival, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 22, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, April 23. Additionally, sunrise tours will be offered both days by prior registration, and sunset tours will be offered Saturday evening, again by prior registration. Free to the public, the festival is organized annually at the Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands at Viera, 3685 Charlie Corbeil Way, Viera, FL 32940.
Exhibits will feature local wildlife—birds, bats, and butterflies—native plants, nature photography and art. Scheduled activities include guided walking and van tours of the wetlands, tours of the adjacent water reclamation facility, and workshops in both wildlife photography and birding. Saturday morning, youth art contest entries from the April 13 Charlie Corbeil Conservation Awards will be on display; awards will be presented to the winners at noon. Certification of the site’s butterfly garden, overlooking the wetland’s central lake, as an official Monarch Waystation is also planned.
Many of the festival’s tours will be led by volunteer Wetland Rangers, who will share their knowledge and experience of the wetlands and its inhabitants. Additional guides include local photography notables. On Saturday, an advanced sunrise photo workshop will be led by Pat “Whitey” Bryan, and a sunset photo walk will be guided by Patty Corapi. Also scheduled for Saturday, a sunset tour by Florida Master Naturalist Ivan Green will follow the evening installation of a bat house and presentation by Shari Blissett-Clark, president of Florida Bat Conservancy. Throughout the festival, nature-related exhibitors will be present, and food vendors will also be available. To register for tours and workshops, visit https://tinyurl.com/2017VWNF, or contact Events@Viera.com. Additional information about the Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands at Viera is available at http://www.grissomwetlands.org.
In addition to the Nature Festival, there are tons of games and activities that we can engage in to educate ourselves and our family on the important of the environment and our personal responsibility to protect it and repair it from the damage we have already inflicted. Here are just a few suggestions:
- Take a hike, bike ride or even go kayaking. Get outdoors, breathe the air, feel the sun and appreciate what we have here in Brevard County.
- Do a home energy audit. Unplug appliances and electronics that are rarely in use and check to make sure windows and doors are sealed properly. Examine the light bulbs in your home and consider replacing inefficient bulbs with a more efficient choice. Also consider controls such as sensors, dimmers or timers to reduce lighting use. Consider hiring a professional energy audit company to really make an impact on your electric bill and understand energy consumption in your home.
- Write a letter to your government representative. The original Earth Day was organized by Gaylord Nelson, a US senator from Wisconsin who was eager to mobilize people in order to demand environmental justice. Each of us has a personal responsibility to tell our elected how we feel about the environment so write a letter and let them know what you care about whether it’s water quality, IRL clean up, protected wildlife or environmental regulations – your voice matters.
- Plant a tree. We all know the benefits of trees, right? If nothing else, it’s a fun way for the family to do something together and create a lasting legacy that you can watch grow.
- Volunteer. There are countless charities that dedicate themselves to cleaning up our environment. Keep Brevard Beautiful has a schedule of cleanups on their website including one on Earth Day: keepbrevardbeautiful.org.
- Something for the kids: http://b-inspiredmama.com/25-earth-day-activities-for-kids/ and http://tinkerlab.com/fifty-earth-day-activities/.
So, until next time, please remember … “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir
Eva M. Rey, President
Central Viera Community Association, Inc.