Today, April 22nd, marks a day that millions of people focus on making choices that are good for the environment. It is Earth Day!
I am a teacher by trade and have always asked my students, 4-Hers, and religious class students to participate in an activity that would be good for our environment. The down side was that I never took the time to research or find out how Earth Day came to be and why we celebrate it. This year I took a few minutes and started to read. The first Earth Day was in 1970. It fell in the midst of the protests against the Vietnam War, a milestone in music with the death of Jimi Hendrix and the last Beatles album release, and a large oil spill in California. Gaylord Nelson, a US Senator from Wisconsin, wanted to get people excited about the air and water with the intention of inspiring people to stand up and request that they be protected. He was successful! The era of happiness and save all living things was an ideal time for him to rally support from college and university students, as well, as other groups that were trying to stop deforestation and oil. As a result of the 1st Earth Day the in United States, US representatives came together and supported the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Soon after the creation of the EPA, the "Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Act" followed.
As a farmer in central North Dakota I am concerned about the air I breathe, the soil I depend on to provide an income for my family, and the water that falls from the sky, sits in my sloughs and flows in the lakes, rivers and streams around me. I want to make sure that I leave the environments that I come in contact with each day no worse, if not better than what it was when I encountered them. I know, cliche' right? Well, it may sound that way, but I truly mean it! Over the years our farm has invested time, energy, and money into making the best decisions for the land we use. We know that soil can not be regenerated at the rate that it was blowing and washing away, we know that the minerals and elements found in the soil are a precious commodity, we know that every drop of water that we are blessed with is vital for life, and we know that the air we breathe is essential and strive to keep all these things as pure as possible. Because my family has invested so much time into doing what is right, not just on Earth Day, but every day, I feel that I need to extend a hand and let people know that the EPA and other environmental groups along with the Corps of Engineers are fighting to control one of the most valuable resources... WATER! These groups want to be able to regulate the water that flows from slough to slough, from pond to pond, and from spring stream to stream. In short they want to have a say in what happens to every drop of precipitation that comes from the sky.
Water is a natural resource! It is natural and is mighty. It chooses where it wants to flow. It has carved out landscapes that make us stop in our tracks and admire it. Water is important, it is vital, and it is a gift from our creator. Let us respect it!
On Earth Day, I still encourage you to think about ways that you can extend a hand and do something positive for the environment that you aren't already doing. I ask that you celebrate the day and raise awareness of the value of the Earth and all it has to offer. I also ask that you take a moment to explore the practices in place that are working to ensure a future for our environment and question the need to be over regulated. Just because something started as a way to raise awareness, doesn't mean that it needs to continue to expand its authority.