Every Day is Earth Day

This month marks the 30th anniversary of Earth Day, a campaign originally launched to build environmental awareness throughout the United States. Today, the idea behind this crusade has spread and become not only international in its scope, but has also evolved into a daily goal of heightened environmental consciousness.

    In the early 1960s, Senator Gaylord Nelson made it his goal to persuade President Kennedy to give national visibility to environmental issues that were fast becoming drastic in their nature. By 1970, Senator Nelson had achieved his goal and announced that the first annual environmental teach-in was to take place. Since its inception, Earth Day has taken on a life of its own and has grown to represent much more than simply a day to protect the environment. As Senator Nelson expressed, "it was truly an astonishing grassroots explosion. The people cared and Earth Day became the first opportunity they ever had to join in a nationwide demonstration to send a big message to the politicians-a message to tell them to wake up and do something. It was a gamble, but it worked."

    On a local level, Green Reef, the community's only grassroots conservation organization, first celebrated Earth Day with the Reef Festival in 1997. Since then, the all-day festival has grown into an event dedicated to encouraging community environmental awareness and participation through educational displays, glass-bottom boat trips to the reef, marine animal touch tanks and more. In addition, the Festival has also allowed Green Reef and other organizations to showcase projects, as well as bring attention to environmental issues of concern. Green Reef is again preparing for the Reef Festival, which will take place this year on May 22nd.

    Although the Reef Festival has consistently been a successful all-day event, Green Reef has always believed that every day should be Earth Day. Likewise, we believe that the primary way of achieving this goal is through education. For example, taking local youths out to the reef or presenting slide shows to those visiting from abroad. Last week, Green Reef took a group of children, parents and teachers from neighboring Caye Caulker to the reef and taught them about general reef

Reef Brief is a weekly column published in the San Pedro Sun
ecology (see photo). In addition, we feel it is critical that local youth be exposed to the type of environmental work and research that takes place in and around Ambergris Caye. Thus, a group of Green Reef volunteers from San Pedro High School have recently been SCUBA certified and trained in coral and fish identification. Eventually, these volunteers will assist the staff at the Hol Chan Marine Reserve in their research. It is our ultimate hope that these volunteers will take this newly acquired knowledge and share it with their families and friends, and perhaps even consider a career in environmental conservation.

    Since Green Reef is a non-profit organization, we are often dependent upon donations and volunteer support from the community. Fortunately, many San Pedro citizens have been more than willing to support Green Reef. In particular, Green Reef would like to acknowledge and thank Billy Leslie of the San Pedro Tour Guide Association and Norman Eiley for consistently going above and beyond to assist us in achieving our objectives.

    Green Reef is always looking for volunteers! If you are interested in helping out with this year's Reef Festival, please call 2940.

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