North Park, REI Holding Special Events Celebrating Earth Day
Mar 30, 2019 11:00AM
By Kathleen Ganster
Allegheny CleanWays' Tireless Project. Photo courtesy REI Corp.
“Every day is Earth Day in North Park,” said Meg Scanlon, interpretive naturalist at the Latodami Environmental Education Center. But there will also be special activities on the “official” Earth Day, Monday, April 22 at the Allegheny County Park.
First, a little bit of history.
The first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970 with more than 22 million people honoring and vowing to protect the environment in the U.S. The founding of Earth Day is attributed to the late Sen. Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin who believed that the country needed to pay better attention to the environment. The movement is credited with the formation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency along with the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and the Endangered Species Acts.
Today, nearly 200 countries across the world celebrate Earth Day.
Earth Day Volunteer Service Day is slated for April 22 at North Park and is an opportunity for volunteers to learn more about their own ecological footprint as well as engaging in a project.
"We will talk about planting seeds and wildflowers, and then we will hunt for ‘treasure eggs’ outside,” said Assistant Naturalist Mackenzie Stec.
The program, which will be held at the Latodami Nature Center from 6:30-7:30 p.m., is suitable for children 6 years and older. Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian and should dress for an outdoor activity.
Earth Day Week activities continue on Saturday, April 27 with the North Area Environmental Council (NEAC) holding its annual seedling sale at Latodami from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. with Scanlon and others providing informative programming. (Seedlings must be pre-ordered and paid for by April 5 at
“I will be offering informal discussions and advice throughout the morning to the public on how they can make changes to their home landscapes,” said Scanlon.
A variety of handouts will be available on topics including reducing heating and cooling costs; reducing pesticide use; creating home compost sites; planting edible landscapes for both humans and wildlife; and creating pollinator gardens (for hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, etc.).
Participants can also learn how to apply for various yard certificates including wildlife habitat (National Wildlife Federation); pollinator friendly (Penn State Extension Service); monarch waystation (Monarch Watch); and learn how to set up and maintain bird feeders to become part of Project Feeder Watch (Cornell University).
During the day, Assistant Naturalist Ken Knapp will be recruiting volunteers for a wide variety of stewardship activities for North Park. Knapp has several service days slated for various projects that will be completed on both weekdays and weekends throughout the spring and summer months.
Later in the day, Latodami Nature Center and Point Park University will be introducing their new partnership for the Latodami Citizen Science Bee Watch Project from 4-5:30 pm. Special presenters from Point Park University including Matthew R. Opdyke, Ph.D., professor of environmental science, will instruct volunteers on how to join this citizen-science project.
Earth Day is also important to REI Corp. For the past 13 years, REI has partnered with Allegheny CleanWay and Friends of the Riverfront to clean and beautify the Heritage River Trail and Monongahela riverfront.
“One of REI’s core values as a company is to fight for and defend public land,” said Steve Wood, outdoor programs & outreach market coordinator, REI Pittsburgh. “One way to do this is through stewardship, taking care of the places where we recreate. We look at how we can partner with local nonprofits to do this.”
On Monday, April 22, from 5:30-8:30 p.m., volunteers will gather at the REI Southside location to collect trash along the trail and banks of the river. In the past, a boat has transported volunteers to hard-to-reach areas to collect on the shore from the river side. “We are lucky because the trail is literally right outside our door,” said Wood.
Volunteers also participate in beautification activities including planting trees along the trail. The event usually attracts 60-75 people. Wood said that they ask volunteers to register in advance so that REI can bring enough tools, refreshments and giveaways, but volunteers are also welcome to just show up. Children are encouraged to attend with parents and guardians.
“We like it to be a family event,” Wood said, adding that Earth Day activities are important to a lot of folks. “Many of us have connections to when we were growing up doing school projects on Earth Day. This is one way we can take action and give back to the places that we love to visit.”
It also comes at the perfect time of year. “We use Earth Day to get our season started on our outdoor work days and many of our other nonprofit partnerships,” he said. “This is just the first for each season.”
For more information about programming at North Park, contact 724-935-2170. To sign up for the REI, Allegheny CleanWay and Friends of the Riverfront Earth Day clean-up visit https://www.rei.com/events.