April 22 is Earth Day! In the 1960s there was a desire for a social and political awakening. People were promoting sustainability and addressing issues such as pollution. Many of these people were young people, students, who wanted their voices to be heard. After the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, California the U.S. Senator, Gaylord Nelson, listened to the voices of the environmentally-mined and he worked to raise awareness about our impact on the planet. With others' interest and support, Gaylord Nelson's idea to have one day a year designated to celebrate the Earth started on April 22, 1970. On the first official Earth Day, 20 million people advocated for better treatment of the environment. It was not until 1990 that this day became an international event to show gratitude towards the Earth. Now this day brings people from different nationalities, cultures, and practices together to consider how the impact the planet and collaborate how they can make positive change. Read about the history of Earth Day, here.
Everyday we work towards celebrating the Earth and practicing environmental stewardship at Conserve School. The week preceding Earth Day, Conserve School students and staff designate a specific theme to focus on in order for our students and staff to be more grounded in our intentions with caring for the Earth.
The CS16 Earth Week theme was "awakening" in hopes of inviting spring to northern Wisconsin. A few weekends ago we received over 12 inches of snow during an April snowstorm. Even though students have been skiing and snowshoeing with enthusiasm all semester, many recognized the need for a change in season. As Earth Day approached, the 36 inches of accumulated snow was greeted with sunlight and it began to melt. Icicles melted off buildings, buds started to show on trees, and we saw grass for the first time this semester. By the time Conserve School's Earth Week began, we were hopeful for a true awakening of the season. With more intention, the theme of awakening was framed to students and staff as an opportunity to focus our minds and hands on activities that encourage growth of knowledge and skills.
*Artist and Conserve School Teaching Fellow, Shelby Roback is the artist behind all of the gorgeous Earth Week artwork.*
CS16 students took advantage of this week to organize, develop, and host seminars on their interests. Student seminar topics included activism, art including zentangles and calligraphy, debate, the history of lacrosse, iNaturalist instruction, D.I.Y. camp stoves, and positive self-growth. These seminars provide students and staff the knowledge and tools to be active in their communities, in order to promote sustainability and environmental stewardship.
To continue the week of exciting events, Thursday evening students shared songs and jokes at the open mic night. Friday of Earth Week staff shared their interest with students during workshops. Students learned how to tie fishing flies and designed paper beads, made spring rolls with home-grown sprouts, learned about the process of making homemade cheese and pretzels, wrote poetry and made journals, talked about philosophy and mindfulness, identified trees, made artistic self-portraits, took a closer look at sustainable farming, and prepared the Earth Fest dinner in the school kitchen.
Many students contributed recipes to the Earth Fest dinner: squash macaroni, vegan sushi, cheesecake, vegetable chili, meatloaf, and more! Hours of work went into making these food dishes. Students and the dining staff ordered ingredients, prepared the food, as well as baked and cooked. Their hard work was appreciated by all who attended the dinner. After we delighted in the food, students made their way to the gathering space to listen to a live band and caller announce steps to contra dance. Many students spent two hours on the dance floor, enjoying the music and each other's company.
Earth Week was a productive week of student-led seminars, talents revealed at the open mic night, and staff sharing their interests with students. We finished the week with a delicious dinner and dance. This was an exceptional way to celebrate our community this week and be grateful for the environment. According to naturalist David Attenborough, "It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest sources of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest sources of intellectual interest. It is the greatest sources of so much in life that makes life worth living." We are fortunate to live and learn at a semester school dedicated to recognizing the Earth's beauty and source of intellectual interest each day. Our commitment as students and staff, to inspire environmental stewardship, takes many different forms throughout the semester. Everyone's hard work and care for one another and the environment is what makes week-long celebrations, such as Earth Week, such a unique experience.
This week would not be successful without the students' enthusiasm, care for the Earth, and dedication to their experience at Conserve School. Additionally, this week would not be possible without the support of all of the staff at Conserve School. Many people contributed their time and ideas to the development of CS16's Earth Week including teachers and teaching fellows, administrators, and the support, custodial and dining staff. Everyone helped in some way and their contributions are greatly appreciated. Special thanks to the Environmental Stewardship teaching team who diligently organized student seminars, the open mic night, staff workshops and decorating the dining hall for Earth Fest dinner.
Sunday April 22 at Conserve School was a beautiful day. Students spent a lot of time outside reading, hammocking, biking, running, and picnicking. During the evening, students shared compliments with one another to show their appreciation for the CS16 student community. Earth Day is a wonderful time to reflect on the natural world and be grateful for the the people and the experiences that unite us and our care for the planet.