Celebrate Earth Day

gayle-at-estesThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

It’s Earth Day!

Well, Earth Day is actually tomorrow. What is Earth Day? Celebrated in many countries throughout the world since 1970, this special day was started in the United States and founded Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin as an awareness event to the effects of pollution on the environment. It was a time that Democrats and Republicans came together for the greater good, of the people and the planet – passage of Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act came on the heels of Earth Day.

squirrel on gate_blog photoAs most of you know, I love nature. As a child, I spent many hours in the fields and forests of Iowa, roaming the acreage my parents owned. Dad taught me about conservation through the establishment of brush piles, creating shelters for birds and small mammals living on our property, and creation of nesting boxes for wood ducks. The two-acre pond on our land provided water for all wildlife species and swimming areas for ducks and geese, as well as habitat for fish species like bass and catfish. We were an outdoors family, enjoying the activities of camping, fishing, hiking (and, for my dad, hunting). Red squirrels, cottontail rabbits, bobwhite quail, great horned owls, various songbirds, red foxes, and white-tailed deer, among so many other species frequented our property. From Iowa to Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and back to Wyoming again, I’ve experienced the beauty of nature. And, I enjoy each facet of that majesty.

I’ve worked with children throughout the years, educating them on the value of outdoor splendor. As education director for Montana’s Grizzly Discovery Center during the mid-1990s, I created on-site and off-site programs for kids and for teachers. I shared the importance of preserving habitat, which is not just for bears but is also shared by other creatures. While working at the International Crane Foundation in Wisconsin, I again shared about the majesty of nature, in the form of stately wild cranes and the importance of habitat. I worked with Forest Service officials both in Montana and Wyoming to create educational programs, and I once envisioned developing an educational center to teach the ethics of environmental stewardship.

I’ve planted trees, grown flowers for hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees, and set out bird feeders. And I’ve taught children the joy and beauty of nature writing.

front yard feeder and water_blog photo

cody-cabin-cover2In my book Cody’s Cabin: Life in a Pine Forest, one of my goals is to educate children about the value of the outdoors; I also desire to help kids garner a greater appreciation for nature. So many children these days have little to no outdoor opportunity or experience. Video games, Legos, and other occupiers of time harness kids to screens and non-outdoor activities. Even those who live near natural beauty spend less time in the outdoors than kids of 20 or 30 years ago.

So this Earth Day, take some time to do some good, for both people and the environment. Take your kids or grandkids outdoors for a walk. Make a game of finding flowers, birds, and butterflies while taking your stroll. Go for a bicycle ride with your family and help your community be cleaner through a family litter pickup. Recycle. Participate in a community-wide clean-up. Plant trees in your yard or through a community project. Create a flower garden that helps bees and butterflies and certify your garden or yard through the National Wildlife Federation as a habitat space – that signage (like the one seen below that’s posted near my front yard) helps educate others in your neighborhood. Even go to a movie — a specific movie, that is: DisneyNature is releasing “Born in China” specifically for this Earth Day weekend, with donations from theater tickets going to help endangered animals in China.

There are so many things we can do, big or small, to help nature, whether in our communities or beyond.

NWF Sign_blog photo_rotated

What will you do to help preserve the great outdoors? My plan? Plant some bushes helpful to songbirds, butterflies, and bees. My husband and I have lived in our home for 10 years now, and my blind dog Sage died five years ago – I’ve been wanting to create an outdoor space in her honor for years, so this is the year to do so: celebrate Sage and her love for the outdoors and celebrate our 10th anniversary at this house with a project to help nature.

I hope you enjoy doing something special this weekend, too. Happy Earth Day, everyone!


Gayle & Mary outsideGayle M. Irwin is the author of several inspirational pet books for children and adults, including Cody’s Cabin: Life in a Pine Forest, which is available in print and Kindle versions. Her newest children’s book A Kind Dog Named Mary about her springer/cocker mix is now available; the book teaches children about kindness and pet adoption — the release coincides with this year’s Children’s Book Week and Be Kind to Animals Week. She’s also a contributing writer to seven Chicken Soup for the Soul books, including last year’s release The Spirit of America, in which she wrote about the nation’s national parks. She enjoys sharing about the human-pet bond and about the value of nature. Learn more at www.gaylemirwin.com.

Mary book cover


17 thoughts on “Celebrate Earth Day

  1. I like your use of the word ‘splendor’ to describe the grandeur of the natural world and its wildlife. I remember that first Earth Day in 1970. The Eco Movement was just being born in 1970. That’s the year I graduated from high school in Ohio. What did our senior class do for Earth Day? We went to a town park and cleaned it up. I do wonder how many of my fellow classmates that cleaned up Dodge Park are nowadays environmentalists and how many want to see the EPA dismantled.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I sometimes wonder the same about my former classmates, Mike — growing up in rural Iowa, there was a lot of conservation happening but farmers don’t like being told what to do… so there’s likely a bunch on both sides of the fence, as they say. Thanks for reading and commenting on my post!


  2. I was raised in the country too, so I understand your love of nature. A bird or even a butterfly makes me excited. Thanks for the beautiful post and the reminder to be kind to the environment. Cher’ley

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading the post and commenting, Cher’ley. I’m looking forward to spring actually staying and to seeing (and hearing) more birds and observing the various butterflies, both in town and at the cabin. I was blessed to observe and hear a lot of wildlife during the weekend at my friends’ ranch — from the calling of sandhill cranes to the round eyes of a great-horned owl. I do so enjoy nature!!


    1. Poetry is a wonderful way to express and appreciate nature — you are so right, Abbie! I used sensory tactics in my “Cody…” book and encouraged kids to explore the outdoors and write about their experiences. Thanks for reading and commenting!


  3. We went to the “Born in China” movie tonight. Beautiful scenery and unbelievable shots. Great movie. As we walked out, loud music that was more noise then music to our ears blasted us in the lobby, and a teen boy was sitting at a table absorbed in his I-Phone. At that moment I remembered the peace of a farm yard and cowbarn in the evening, quiet lowing or an occasional groan from an animal, my learning to be quiet and experience the low-keyed presence of the sounds of nature, as well as the different scents floating on the air–hay, fresh, moist soil, grass, and yes animal scents. But all of it gave me a “sense” of being only a member with all other creatures and living things on this earth. An awareness I wonder exists in many of today’s humans. I am so thankful my grandchildren are outdoors enthusiasts with animals to care for. Great post friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You and your family enjoy wonderful outdoor experiences, Neva, and yes, your grandchildren are blessed to raise such wonderful animals and have an “outdoorsey” family. I’m so glad to hear you saw the movie; I will likely have to watch it online sometime. Thanks for reading and commenting on my post!


    1. Thanks so much for reading and for your comments, Barb. I do try to be a good steward: recycle, set out feed and water for the animals/birds, and conserve energy. I learned a lot from my parents; I’m blessed to have had their examples as I grew up.


  4. It really is sad that children don’t play outside as they used to, and that front porches have disappeared, at least in my part of the country. The happiest week of my life was the summer I was six, when my family camped for a week in my great-uncle’s pecan bottom–across the narrow river from town and about a mile from my house, but a different world, green and hushed (although town was about the same most of the time.) Going to sleep under the rustling leaves (and mosquito netting), swimming all day (except when the cattle came down to water and my mother made us get out and sit on the bank, out of respect for them), letting minnows nibble our feet. Now the heat keeps me inside most of the time, but I watch the cenizo for signs of impending rain (experts on the Internet say cenizos bloom after rain, not before, but they’re wrong). We’ve made some strides since the first Earth Day. I hope we continue. Keep reminding us. Thanks for your post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What wonderful memories and great images you shared, Kathy — thank you! I forgot about the minnows in the creeks of Iowa where I grew up; the frogs, too — their croaking during evening time and the lightening bugs at night during the summers. Thanks for evoking my own childhood memories by sharing yours! Yes, today’s kids need more outside time — so do we adults! 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting!


  5. It’s good to be reminded to treat our planet Earth with kindness. Unfortunately, I spent Earth Day working and selling books (okay, not so unfortunate) but I did enjoy watching the squirrels run around campus. I hadn’t heard of the film “Born in China.” I’ll have to check it out. I love that money goes towards protecting animals in China. Great post, Gayle.


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