Here Are a Few Ways to Mark the 50th Anniversary of a Classic Environmental Observance

Three utilities celebrate Earth Day in unique ways by partnering with a city, nonprofit and university.

Here Are a Few Ways to Mark the 50th Anniversary of a Classic Environmental Observance

Students at the Inland Empire Utilities Agency event in California took part in an environmental show that included singing and dancing to environmental-themed songs.

Earth Day is an ideal time for drinking water and clean-water agencies to call attention to the work they do every day to protect public health and the environment. Here’s how three utilities are marking the April 22 observance, originated in 1970 by the late Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. senator from Wisconsin. 

Activities for 4,000

California’s Inland Empire Utilities Agency partners with the city of Chino for its annual Earth Day celebration. Now in its 11th year, the two-day event brings in some 4,000 people.  

On day one, Student Day, buses drop off roughly 2,000 children, chaperones, teachers and volunteers. The kids learn about water quality, recycled water, water conservation and watersheds through various games and activities. They also learn about composting, pollution, water-saving landscaping and the utility’s Kick the Habit campaign, which teaches ways to use water wisely and end wasteful practices. 

The day also includes animal encounters and a hike through the Chino Creek Wetlands and Educational Park behind the agency headquarters. Andrea Carruthers, manager of external affairs, observes, “One of the highlights for the students is an environmental show that engages them in singing and dancing to environmental-themed songs. This type of learning seems to resonate, and they leave with a handful of ways to be good environmental stewards.”

Day two is Community Day, an evening event for the general public. Many of the Student Day activities are included; participants include community members, volunteers and vendors.

Family festival

Baldwin County Sewer Service in Summerdale, Alabama, approached the Earth Day Mobile Bay organization eight years ago to take part in its well-established Earth Day event. The organization, an environmental nonprofit, established the event nearly 20 years ago.

Attended by more than 1,000 guests each year, it is lower Alabama’s largest Earth Day festival. Its goal is to grow the environmental movement on the Gulf Coast and to promote environmental citizenship and awareness.  

The Mobile Bay area includes a portion of the utility’s customer base. The leadership wanted to reach out in a fun and family-friendly way to teach residents what they can do to help prevent sewer issues, such as backups and overflows, and save water.

Several team members work a booth at the event, providing educational materials on how to take care of our water, the wastewater reclamation process, items to keep out of drains and how to maintain septic systems.

Events for the kids include a toilet toss in which children get prizes depending on where a beanbag lands. The most popular handout item is eco-friendly toilet paper rolls. Crystal Clean, the utility’s water-drop mascot, walks around the ground greeting kids and adults. The utility gives out reusable fabric tote bags with Crystal Clean’s image; kids color in the figure and take the bags home.

“The Earth Day Mobile Bay event is a great way for us to connect with our customers and educate them on what we do here,” says Jenny Williams, communications director. “The event has been a great vehicle.” This year the utility will feature a new Water on Wheels unit, giving out filtered water. That will reduce the use of plastic water bottles at the event.

Hands-on learning

When construction on its grounds prevented hosting its own annual Earth Day celebration, the Greenville (North Carolina) Utilities Commission joined East Carolina University’s Earth Day Expo.

The eighth annual event was held on the university’s main campus. Children and adults took part in hands-on activities to learn about their roles in keeping the planet clean. The expo included a passport that kids could get stamped at each display; those visiting all displays received awards.

Representatives from the utility’s wastewater treatment plant engaged the kids with activities that showcased the treatment process and how people can help keep rivers clean.

“Partnering with the university allowed us to get our key wastewater messages out in a fun and interactive way,” says Emily Garner, public information specialist. The event also enabled utility team members to talk about water careers and the treatment plant’s role in environmental safety and conservation.

“It also enabled us to share videos and photos in real time with our online social media communities,” Garner says. “That helped us to reach an audience outside of those who attended the event.”


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.