On April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day was celebrated. Groups fighting for the protection of wilderness lands, endangered species, regulation of pesticides, polluting power plants, raw sewage, and toxic dump sites discovered they shared the common goal of protecting our planet. The Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and other planet-changing environmental laws soon followed.
Forty-two years later, Earth Day is recognized with a variety of activities, including volunteers that pick up trash from their local streams, artists that sell crafts made from recycled materials to benefit environmental organizations, and river float trips that allow residents to appreciate their local natural resources.
Read our list below to find more than 40 Earth Day events across the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Also, be sure to check in with your local watershed group to find out what activities it has planned for this month.
Keep America Beautiful's Great American Cleanup
Various dates, times and locations
The nation's largest annual community improvement program brings the power of 3.8 million volunteers and participants to create local change. Activities include beautifying parks and recreation areas, cleaning seashores and waterways, handling recycling collections, picking up litter, planting trees and flowers, and conducting educational programs and litter-free events.
Project Clean Stream
Saturday, April 14, 2012, multiple times and locations
Project Clean Stream is an annual stream and shoreline cleanup coordinated by the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. Project Clean Stream engages more than 5,000 volunteers at hundreds of cleanup sites throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed, removing hundreds of thousands of pounds of trash from our region’s streams and forests.
Clean Up Your Corner
Sunday, April 22, 2012, for one hour, location of your choice
Clean Up Your Corner is a grassroots event asking everyone around the world to donate one hour of their time on Earth Day 2012 (April 22) to clean up their area of the world. This can be accomplished through simply picking up and properly disposing trash on the street or recycling/repurposing tossed items that can be recycled or repurposed.
Rock Creek Conservancy’s 4th Annual EXTREME Rock Creek Cleanup
Saturday, April 14, 2012, various times and locations
Come join thousands of volunteers in the largest cleanup event of the year at one of multiple sites along Rock Creek.
Potomac Conservancy’s Potomac River Watershed Cleanup
Saturday, April 14, 9am - 12pm, Cabin John, Md., Fletcher’s Cove, D.C., Theodore Roosevelt Island, D.C.
Join the Potomac Conservancy for the 24th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup! Help do your part to keep your community clean at this annual cleanup organized by the Alice Ferguson Foundation. Since 1989, more than 60,000 volunteers have pulled more than 3 million tons of trash from the watershed's streams, rivers and bays.
Little Falls Watershed Alliance’s Trash Free Little Falls
Saturday, April 14, 2012 9:30am – 12pm, four locations
Every year, LFWA joins forces with the Alice Ferguson Foundation to help clean the entire Potomac River watershed. Hundreds of pounds of trash will be pulled out of the river and its tributaries. Also, participate in the annual Garlic Mustard Challenge, where volunteers remove this invasive plant from local parks. Last year, volunteers pulled more 1,000 pounds of garlic mustard out of the ground!
Neighbors of Northwest Branch Earth Day Cleanup
Saturday, April 21, 2012, various times, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, Md.
Celebrate Earth Day 2012 by helping to clean up the Anacostia River’s Northwest Branch. Wherever you live in the Northwest Branch watershed, there's a cleanup site near you. Please be sure to bring water and wear appropriate clothes to protect from sun, thorns and insects, and wear shoes that can get muddy. Gloves and bags will be provided.
Anacostia Watershed Society: Earth Day Cleanup and Celebration
Saturday, April 21, 2012, multiple locations, cleanup: 9am - 12pm, celebration: 12pm – 2pm
Join the Anacostia Watershed Society and other local organizations to clean up the Anacostia River and its tributaries in honor of Earth Day. Last year, more than 2,000 volunteers helped us remove more than 42 tons of trash from the river! There are nearly 40 sites to choose from in Washington, D.C., and in Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland!
Friends of Sligo Creek Spring “Sweep the Creek”
Saturday, April 21, 2012 9am – 11am and Sunday, April 22, 1pm – 3pm, Montgomery County, Md.
Do you enjoy walking in the shade by Sligo Creek? Or chatting with a friend on a bench while listening to the creek's rustling sounds? These are just a few of the reasons to keep Sligo Creek clean. Come out and join your neighbors in helping enhance the natural beauty of the creek! Gloves and bags provided.
City of Alexandria Earth Day 2012
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 10am – 2 pm, Ben Brenman Park, Alexandria, Va.
This year's theme is Eco-City Alexandria! The event will include green building learning sessions, educational exhibits, demonstrations, hands-on activities for children, a tree sale, and the second annual Trashion Fashion Show. The City of Alexandria will also host another Tree Sale, offering variety of trees to the public at great prices.
Friends of Dyke Marsh Earth Day Raptor Celebration
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 10am, Belle Haven Picnic Area, Alexandria, Va.
You can "visit with" raptors like owls and hawks on April 21 when FODM, the National Park Service and the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia sponsor a raptor demonstration on April 21 at the Belle Haven picnic area near the bike path. The Raptor Conservancy of Virginia will bring live raptors for close-up encounters.
The National Zoo’s Earth Day Party for the Planet
Sunday, April 22, 2012, 11am – 3pm, National Zoo
Come to the National Zoo for a free public event to celebrate Earth Day and the Zoo's commitment to green practices. Activities include eco-crafts, conservation-related games, music and more.
Earth Day on the National Mall
Sunday, April 22, 2012, 12pm - 7pm, National Mall
The centerpiece of Earth Day in the United States will be a rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Tens of thousands of environmentally conscious people from all walks of life and all parts of the country will be joined by civic leaders and celebrities for this special event to galvanize the environmental movement.
Clean Water Network's Float-In Earth Day Celebration
Sunday, April 22, 2012, 3:30pm – 7pm, 1st and Potomac Avenue SE
Join people from across the region and country to protect Washington, D.C.’s Anacostia River and all of our country’s waters for the First Annual Float-In Earth Day. The "Float-In" marks the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, one of our nation’s landmark environmental laws. Bring your boats, canoes, kayaks, rafts, yachts and even bathtubs (if they can float!) to Diamond Teague Park. Entertainment will include musical performances, boat tours of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, and a screening of a new documentary on the water crisis, Last Call to the Oasis.
Clean Fairfax Council and County of Fairfax Earth and Arbor Day Celebration
Saturday, April 28, 2012, Fairfax, Va.
For more than 10 years, Clean Fairfax Council and the County of Fairfax have organized Earth Day/Arbor Day. Even though it rained last year, it was a terrific event for participants and visitors. The agenda for 2012 includes a community service stream cleanup, urban forestry workshops, Arbor Day tree planting, environmental education and games for kids, and more! And – it’s all free!
Project Clean Stream with Spa Creek Conservancy
Saturday, April 14, 2012, Chesapeake Children's Museum, Annapolis, Md.
Help the Spa Creek Conservancy clean up the shoreline at the Children's Museum in Annapolis.
Rain Garden Installations and an Earth Day Celebration
Friday, April 20, 2012, 10am – 3pm, Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Annapolis, Md.
Volunteers will plant two rain gardens located along the DNR parking lot. All are invited to get their hands dirty and join in for a fun, festive Earth Day celebration! Rain date: Monday, April 23, 10 am - 3 pm.
TreeBaltimore Earth Day Planting
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 8:30am – 12pm, Frederick Douglass High School, Baltimore, Md.
Blue Water Baltimore will host its big spring tree planting on Saturday, April 21, and is looking for plenty of volunteers to help restore Baltimore’s tree canopy! Groups and families welcome. All gloves, tools and training will be provided. Volunteers should wear clothes and shoes they don’t mind getting dirty and bring a refillable water bottle. Afterwards, take a stroll down to EcoFest at Druid Hill Park and enjoy the day!
Gunpowder Valley Conservancy's Earth Day Tree Planting
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 9am – 1pm, Loch Raven Reservoir
Join the conservancy as it plants trees in the Gunpowder Valley on Saturday, April 21.
Savage River Watershed Association's Native Plant Sale
Saturday, April 28, 2012, 10am – 12pm, New Germany State Park
Native plant enthusiasts will answer your questions about native plants, conservation landscaping and backyard wildlife habitat practices. A variety of native plants (grasses, sedges, wildflowers, shrubs and trees) will be available for purchase. All proceeds will benefit the SRWA.
Easton's "Illumination: Found Art Show"
Month of April, Talbot County Visual Arts Center, Easton, Md.
In keeping with Earth Day, the Talbot County Visual Arts Center will celebrate the works of regional found object artists as a part of the "Illumination: Found Art Show.” These artists have taken ordinary objects such as hardware, industrial tubing and household items – many cast off and destined for the landfill – to create one-of-a-kind works of art.
Easton's Clean Stream Cleanup
Saturday, April 14, 9am – 12pm, Easton, Md.
Join Pickering Creek Audubon Center and the town of Easton to beautify Easton’s Rails to Trails trail. Volunteer a few hours to help make the community and its streams cleaner and safer.
Earth Day Beginners Bird Walk
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 8:30am – 12pm
Come celebrate Earth Day at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge on a beginners bird walk. This program is run by the friendly, expert birders of the Kent County Bird Club. It is geared for beginners but birders of all experience levels are welcome to attend.
Pickering Creek Environmental Center's Earth Day Work Day
Saturday, April 21, 9am – 12pm, Easton, Md.
Celebrate the earth with Pickering Creek! Get your work gloves out and join staff for Earth Day Work Day. Volunteers will tackle a number of projects including invasive plant removal, trail clearing, gardening and more. The day will wrap up with a picnic lunch from Easton's new Chipotle restaurant. Pickering Creek will provide lunch and tools for the day. Just bring a water bottle and a friend!
Mutt Strut & Earth Day Festival
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 9am – 1pm, downtown Chestertown, Md.
Festivities begin in Fountain Park with the Farmer's Market, live music and dog walk registration. The walk itself starts at 10:00, winding through the historic district before ending at the county courthouse. Near the Episcopal Church and the old cannon, Memorial Row will transform into a pedestrian street fair with funnel cake, fish fry, hamburgers and hot dogs by Rose Green, crafters, eco-exhibitors, recycling displays and collections. Pet tricks and canine competitions that include a high jump, doggie limbo, musical sit, waggiest tail, longest tail, shortest tail, smallest dog, tallest dog, best slobber, look-alike and costume contest will take place on the Courthouse Lawn.
Salisbury Zoo's Earth Day Celebration
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 10am – 4pm, Salisbury, Md.
The Salisbury Zoo will hold its annual Earth Day celebration on Saturday, April 21, 2012 from 10:00am until 4:00pm. This event is free to the public and promotes an appreciation for nature and an understanding of our environment. There will be fun for all ages, including educational activities, zookeeper talks, demonstrations, food and exhibits from more than 20 earth-friendly organizations!
New Roots Youth Garden Earth Day Celebration and Blessing of the Worms
April 22, 2012, Cape Charles, Va.
The New Roots Youth Garden initiative provides experiences that help local youth develop personal growth through hard work, patience and the rewards of gardening. Youth gain environmental awareness by exploring the inter-connected relationships among living and non-living things, as well as healthy lifestyles by eating what they grow and engaging in physical activity.
Earth Day Celebration & Clean-Up at Pocomoke River State Park
April 22 – 23, 2012, 3461 Worcester Highway, Snow Hill, Md.
Come out and do your part for Earth Day! Help clean up the park and afterwards enjoy a live animal program featuring some of Maryland's most common birds of prey and reptiles. Meet at the Shad Landing Marina Area.
Occoquan River Clean Up Day
Saturday, April 14, 2012, 9am – 12pm, Five locations in northern Va.
Come meet your neighbors and other citizen-based organizations to help clean up the Occoquan River. Bring your boat/kayak/canoe if you own one. Refreshments will be provided.
Earth Day on the Rappahannock
Saturday, April 14, 2012, 11am – 3pm, Old Mill Park, Fredericksburg, Va.
Come celebrate the Earth! Fredericksburg Parks and Recreation is collaborating with the Virginia Cooperative Extension — Stafford, Master Gardeners and the Rappahannock Group of the Sierra Club for festivities in honor of Earth Day. Activities include live music, great food, guided walks, and dozens of vendors and exhibitors. There will be lots of hands-on activities for adults and children alike! Rain date is April 21st.
Earth Day Celebration in Old Town Manassas
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 10am – 3pm, Harris Pavilion
It’s an Old Town with a “green” attitude when Historic Manassas Inc. hosts this spring cleaning day, which includes exhibitors from nonprofit and civic organizations providing recycling and environmental information. The Manassas Trash and Recycling Department will be coordinating a “shred it” truck for residents to securely dispose of personal documents for free. At the Pavilion, several organizations will accept various items that are usually sent to the landfill, such as gently used clothing and household items, eye glasses and hearing aids. The Manassas Art Guild will be featuring its “eARTH” exhibit with artists working in several mediums and displaying their work relating to themes of recycling, natural materials and the environment.
Fauquier County's Earthfest 2012
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 12pm – 6pm, C. M. Crockett Park
This event will showcase live music from popular local and high school bands. Featured will be an eclectic mix of punk, funk, alternative rock and other music styles. Fun for all ages! Lawn chairs and blankets are welcome. In the event of inclement weather, the rain date will be April 22.
Family Fun Day on Smith Creek with Friends of North Fork of Shenandoah River
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 12pm – 3pm, Bill Gallucci’s Farm, 7677 Smith Creek Road New Market, Va.
Tour a water-friendly farm, see fish and wildlife, learn how to fish, hunt for river bugs, learn how to compost, help make a rain barrel, and learn how to keep your well during these exciting, hands-on activities!
Richmond Earth Day Festival
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 12pm – 7pm, Old Manchester at Hull Street and East 1st, Richmond
Join Richmond residents for this Earth Day festival and an earth-friendly 5K.
Fauquier County's Acts of Green Earth Day e-Waste Recycling and Workshops
Sunday, April 22, 2012, various times, Warrenton Community Center
Learn how to keep your planet clean, healthy and happy. Fauquier County’s workshops are designed to educate, enlighten and encourage people of all ages, incomes and backgrounds to adopt more sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyles. Pre-registration required for workshops. Workshops include recycling, rain barrels and e-materials recycling.
Loudoun Family Festival and Earth Day
Sunday, April 22nd, 2012, 11am – 4pm, 42920 Broadlands Boulevard, Ashburn
The mission of EarthDay@Loudoun is to promote and celebrate environmental stewardship among county residents and businesses. This is accomplished through entertainment, exhibits, workshops and activities that engage and inspire the entire community, especially the next generation of environmental stewards. The event also creates an opportunity for local environmental organization(s) to connect with Loudouners.
The Great American Cleanup
April 27 – 28, 2012, Hampton Roads, Va.
Grab your work gloves and get ready, Hampton Roads! The Great American Cleanup is coming to a community near you! Through the partnership of askHRgreen.org and Keep Virginia Beautiful, Hampton Roads has been selected as one of 10 national locations for Keep America Beautiful’s 2012 Great American Cleanup National Action Days. The Great American Cleanup is the largest grassroots community involvement program in the United States. The launch of the Hampton Roads cleanup events on April 27-28 will involve hundreds of volunteers transforming local parks, waterways and recreational areas into cleaner, greener environments.
Little Conestoga Watershed Alliance Earth Day Tree Planting Event
Saturday, April 14, 2012, 9am – 12pm, Conestoga Country Club, Lancaster
Watershed group members will team up with local volunteers to plant hundreds of trees along the banks of the Little Conestoga Creek on the country club grounds. Volunteers are asked to dress for planting conditions: gloves, boots, and long pants and sleeves.
Wildwood Park Earth Day Cleanup
Saturday, April 14, 2012, 10am – 1pm, Wildwood Park's Olewine Nature Center, Harrisburg
You are invited to help clean up Wildwood Park’s lake, streams and trails. Volunteers will plant trees, spearhead litter pick-ups and remove invasive plants throughout the park. As Earth Day and Arbor Day approach, this event is a great opportunity to give something back. Dress for the weather. Snack, tools, and work gloves will be provided.
ZooAmerica Party for the Planet
Saturday, April 21 –22, 2012, ZooAmerica, Hershey
Join ZooAmerica in celebrating our planet! Learn about plant and animal conservation and how you can help maintain the beauty of the earth. Enjoy fun activities and animal demonstrations, and learn helpful tips from ZooAmerica naturalists and volunteers.
Watershed Cleanup 2012
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 8am – 12pm, various locations in Centre County
Each year, ClearWater Conservancy recognizes Earth Day by organizing a Watershed Cleanup Day to eliminate illegal waste plaguing Centre County’s watersheds. Since 1997, the group has removed and properly disposed of 2,787 tons of trash from the Spring Creek, Bald Eagle Creek, Beech Creek, Penns Creek and Little Fishing Creek watersheds. A picnic for volunteers will follow at noon at Spring Creek Park in State College.
Earth Day Removal of Invasive Plant Species with the Sierra Club
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 8:30am, Neffsville, Pa.
Please join the Sierra Club of Pennsylvania as we commemorate Earth Day by removing invasive plant species from beautiful Landis Woods Park in the Neffsville area, just off Route 501. No prior experience is necessary.
Green Living Fair
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 9am– 1:30pm, HACC's Midtown Center
On April 21, the day before Earth Day, there will be a green living fair at HACC’s Midtown Center. Many different companies throughout the region will exhibit their green or sustainable services.
Mechanicsburg Earth Day Festival
Saturday, April 21, 2012, 9am –2pm, Main Street, Mechanicsburg
Come one and all to the Mechanicsburg Earth Day Festival! Festival activities will include live music, exhibitors, kids world and more! Join us for a fun-filled day caring for our planet.
Chiques Creek Watershed Alliance Spring Cleanup Event
Saturday, April 28, 2012, 9am – 11am, Mummau Park & Logan Park (Route 772), Manheim
Join members of the Chiques Creek group for this annual spring cleaning event. Volunteers will clean up Rife Run, which flows through both parks, planting trees, and removing invasive tree and shrub species from the parks. Volunteers should dress for outdoor working conditions with long pants and long sleeves, work gloves and boots.
Did we miss an Earth Day event happening near you? Let us know about it in the comments!