“The wealth of the nation is its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats and biodiversity…”
– Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson
The first official Earth Day is listed in the record books as April 22, 1970, but examples of environmental awareness and sustainability in daily life can be found throughout the Hudson Valley. Generations ago, Samuel Morse’s Locust Grove estate in Poughkeepsie used an icebox in the butler’s pantry that drained the melted water into a cistern downstairs for reuse. In 2012, the Millbrook School’s Trevor Zoo upgraded to a green parking lot, which means parking on cooling, oxygen-producing grass instead of hot asphalt and reducing storm runoff into the nearby stream.
US senator, governor and Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson said: “The wealth of the nation is its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats and biodiversity…that’s all there is. That’s the whole economy. That’s where all the economic activity and jobs come from. These biological systems are the sustaining wealth of the world.”
Here’s a list of events and activities for your family to help celebrate Earth Day through strengthened connections with animals and the land:
THURSDAY, APRIL 17
Animal extinction program at Poughkeepsie’s Mid-Hudson Heritage Center
Speaking of the Trevor Zoo, director Alain Tousignant discusses the new role of zoos in conservation at the Mid-Hudson Heritage Center’s event about animal extinction, “And then There Were None.” The evening includes a viewing of White Gold, a 38-minute documentary concerning the elephant and ivory crisis, as well as a talk by Paola Bari about saving the cheetah and the 2014 Keep Safe Project.
“And then There Were None” takes place on Thursday, April 17 from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. at the Mid-Hudson Heritage Center and is free and open to the public. The Center is located at 317 Main Street in Poughkeepsie. For more information, call (845) 485-8506 or visit www.keepsafeproject.com.
FRIDAY, APRIL 18
Birds of Prey program at LaGrange Library
What a thrill to see bald eagles at Bowdoin Park in Poughkeepsie, high up in the trees guarding the nest or soaring overhead! But for a closer look at birds of prey, head over to the LaGrange Library for “Close Encounters with Birds of Prey.” On Friday, April 18 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., drop in to see presenter Bill Streeter from the Delaware Valley Raptor Center, where the audience can have an up-close visit with hawks, falcons, owls and eagles. This program is free and open to the public, and recommended for children ages 3 and up.
The LaGrange Library is located at 488 Freedom Plains Road in Poughkeepsie. For more information, call (845) 452-3141 or visit www.laglib.org.
Toddler hike to Van Leuven Cabin at Mohonk Preserve
This week’s Toddlers on the Trail is an opportunity for your family’s youngest hikers to experience nature on a 1.5-mile meandering hike to the historic Van Leuven Cabin. The walk is geared toward children from 2 to 6 years of age and takes place on Friday, April 18 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at the Mohonk Preserve. Strollers won’t work on this trail, but carriers are welcome.
The program is free for Mohonk Preserve members; otherwise there’s a $12 day use fee for adults. Children 12 and under get in free but must be accompanied by an adult. Space is limited; for reservations and more information, call (845) 255-0919 or visit https://mohonkpreserve.org.
SATURDAY, APRIL 19
Free admission to national parks in Hyde Park
In celebration of the opening weekend of National Parks Week, April 19 and 20 are free entrance days at all national parks, and half of the New York national parks are right here in the Hudson Valley: Eleanor Roosevelt, Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Vanderbilt Mansion, all in Hyde Park. New York’s other national historic sites are Martin Van Buren in Kinderhook, Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay and Saratoga National Historic Park. I recommend strolling the grounds and bringing a picnic along.
For more information about free entrance days or the National Park Service, visit www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm. To learn more about the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, visit www.nps.gov/elro/index.htm; for more about the FDR estate, visit www.nps.gov/hofr/index.htm; and for information about the Vanderbilt Mansion, visit www.nps.gov/vama/index.htm. Remember to check out the WebRangers game online, a link of games, challenges and activities for young history buffs: www.nps.gov/webrangers/index.cfm.
Teen Earth Day activity at Grinnell Library in Wappingers Falls
The Grinnell Library has a great, free Teen Earth Day do-it-yourself activity taking place on Saturday, April 19 from 1 to 2 p.m.: Participants will make a magazine holder and book pencil cup from recycled materials. The Grinnell Library is located at 2642 East Main Street in Wappingers Falls. Call to reserve your spot or for more information at (845) 297-3428 or visit www.grinnell-library.org.
Hyde Park Walkabout 2014 begins at Winnakee Nature Preserve
I think that the Hyde Park Walkabout Year is such a terrific idea, and I hope that more communities follow suit: Hike any five of the town’s designated trails within one year, and receive a free commemorative patch for your efforts. The kickoff for Walkabout 2014 takes place on Saturday, April 19 at 1 p.m. with a guided walk at the Winnakee Nature Preserve on Van Dam Road, off Route 9 in Hyde Park.
For more information about this or other hikes included in the Walkabout list, call (845) 229-8086 or visit www.hydeparkny.us/recreation/trails. To learn more about the Winnakee site, visit www.winnakeeland.org.
Clermont hosts Chancellor’s Sheep & Wool Showcase
The Chancellor’s Sheep & Wool Showcase at Clermont is a unique festival that connects families with history, land and animals. This family event takes place on Saturday, April 19 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and highlights include: children’s crafts, demos of spinning, weaving, wool-hooking, sheepherding and shearing, 18th century reenactors and live traditional music. Admission costs $8 per vehicle. Remember to purchase some extra skeins of yarn so you can knit with Kiersten at the Treehouse in New Paltz.
Clermont is located at 87 Clermont Avenue in Germantown. For more information, call (518) 537-6622 or visit www.friendsofclermont.org.