Engaging Earth Day celebrations abound in Santa Fe

Students explore the Leonora Curtin Wetland Preserve of the Santa Fe Botanical Garden. Mollie Parsons/Generation Next

Earth Day is Wednesday, April 22 — and Santa Fe, being Santa Fe, is getting involved.

One of the largest events is the fourth annual Earth Day celebration at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center on Saturday. According to recreation manager Lisa Gulotta, the main event with activities, giveaways and demos runs from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. From 2 to 4:30 p.m., there is an environmental education conference coordinated and hosted by Green Our Schools to teach students, parents and teachers how to save energy at school sites. It’s all free.

“Expect to learn where to recycle almost anything in Santa Fe. If you live in the city limits and have not started recycling, we have bins for you to take home and start filling,” Gulotta said.

The dynamics of Earth Day attract such partner groups as the New Mexico Solar Energy Association (bringing solar ovens and an energy bike powered by human energy), Tierra Sagrada Pottery (with make-and-take clay art sessions), Defenders of Wildlife and others.

There’s fun stuff, too, including an African drum and dance ensemble, archery, yoga sessions and a marimba ensemble from the Academy for Technology and the Classics. ATC marimba student August Railey, who will be performing at the celebration, said that music correlates to the event: “Music is a way of expressing things around you, and it’s a way of decorating space and that’s what the Earth is: just space. … If you have an event that encourages people to … see what [they] can do for [the] community, for the environment, it helps people help their community.”

The Santa Fe Botanical Garden on Museum Hill is also hosting a free Community Day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Earth Day. Education director Mollie Parsons said the event should be “engaging for any age group” and will involve phenology monitoring sessions, pest-control sessions and bird nest monitoring.

Santa Fe Preparatory School student Rain Romero, who volunteers at the botanical garden, sees the Earth as something everyone should respect. He encourages people to, “Watch what you do, make sure you don’t live in excess, and really appreciate everyday life.” The botanical garden is always looking for teen volunteers at any of its locations and would appreciate assistance on Earth Day.

The Santa Fe Botanical Garden also will partner with the Santa Fe Children’s Museum on Friday, April 24, to celebrate Arbor Day from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Catherine Meng, assistant director of community relations at the museum, said there will be bird-feeder art projects, a tree planting session, a scavenger hunt and the usual museum activities. Attendance is free for children under 1 and $7.50 for everyone else. The museum will incorporate Arbor Day into its usual free admission story time from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 23. Meng said, “In Santa Fe, we’ve got a lot of unique opportunities to talk about preservation and conservation. … Anyone living anywhere should have an understanding about these things, but it seems like having children understanding that at a young age will help them carry it with them for a lifetime.”

Interested in being involved in similar activities? Con tact Laura Meredith at lmeredith@santafechildrens museum.org for details on an apprentice program for ages 16 to 21, starting this summer at the museum.

Schools like Santa Fe High School also are getting involved. According to Tammy Harkins, an educator for the Academy for Sustainability Education, academy students will be involved in a green vehicle show with cars and motorcycles, green fuel demonstrations and solar cooking Tuesday, April 28. Beyond Earth Day, the academy will also host an eco-fashion show Thursday, May 14. On Friday, May 15, the academy will unveil its aquaponics lab, eco-amphitheater, green trail, solar charging station, Sol Beats (a solar sound studio) and the Learning and Zen gardens. Academy student Irie Charity said the academy’s hands-on learning has allowed her explore new solutions to the Earth’s climate change issues.

Why should teens get involved in Earth Day and related activities? “It’s important to let people know that they can have an impact on the world, [especially now that] there’s being less and less time for youth to be encouraged to go outside. You guys are ultimately the ones who decide whether places like this [the botanical garden] will exist in the future,” Parsons said.

Contact Parsons at mollie@santafebotanicalgarden.org for details on youth volunteer work, project ideas and — until Monday, May 4 — information on unpaid summer internships for students in grades 6-12. To apply, you must have one reference from a teacher and fill out an application.

Elizabeth Sanchez is a senior at Santa Fe High School. Contact her at elizabethann97@hotmail.com.