Celebrate Earth Day 2023!
Earth Day 2023 is almost here! How are you celebrating Earth Day and giving back to your local environment and community this year? This week, join us to learn about Earth Day, and ways you can celebrate with the Seminole Tribe of Florida and beyond!
In our featured image, you can see an alligator swimming through a pond in Everglades National Park. Joseph Butler took the image in 2018. Below, you can see a shot from Big Cypress National Preserve, taken in 2023. This Earth Day, we encourage you to explore your local environment and community. Find preserves, green spaces, parks, and other natural areas near where you work and live. We challenge you to not only enjoy these areas, but also find ways to give back and reinvest your time, effort, and abilities in your local environment and community.
What is Earth Day?
So, what is Earth Day? Earth Day is a way to show support and bring attention to environmental protection, conservation, pollution, and peace. The first official Earth Day was April 22, 1970, with 20 million Americans participating. Now, Earth Day engages over 190 countries with over 1 billion individuals “mobilized for action” annually. Many credit Earth Day as the first step in the modern environmentalist movement, with Earth Day 1970 “[providing] a voice to this emerging environmental consciousness, and putting environmental concerns on the front page.” In 1990, Earth Day took another huge step and became a global movement. Earth Day 1990 mobilized 200 million people in 141 countries, elevating environmental issues and concerns to the world stage. Since then, it has only grown with the adoption of the internet, social media, and the age of information.
At Earth Day 2010, the Earth Day Network launched the “A Billion Acts of Green” and “The Canopy Project.” That year, they engaged over 75,000 global partners in 192 countries. Now, the Earth Day Network has over 15 active global campaigns, ranging from those focused on ending plastic pollution, conservation, to even those focused on community needs and local governments. The Earth Day Network and their global partners work around the world to drive meaningful change. Earth Day 2023’s official theme, Invest in Our Planet, hopes to continue this path forward.
What Can You DO to celebrate beyond Earth Day?
But, how can you celebrate Earth Day? Participating annually is a great first step, even if you aren’t involved in the Earth Day Network events or campaigns. Last year for Earth Day, we talked about small and large changes you can make to have a positive impact on your environment and world. This year, we focus on ways you, and your family, can get more involved in environmental efforts in your own communities. Below, check out three ways to help shift your thinking towards being more environmentally conscious and community oriented!
One of the best ways to reorient your thinking to center environmental concerns and issues is to get outside! Make being active in your community and environment a priority for you and your family. Explore your local community’s green spaces, and connect with organizations, people, and partners that support those spaces. How often do you visit your local parks? What about preserves, conservation areas, and nature centers? Find places in your community you haven’t been before, and have fun!
Get Your Family Involved
Did you know that Earth Day is on April 22nd so that more students can participate? There are age-appropriate opportunities for everyone to participate this Earth Day. We encourage you to involve your whole family in Earth Day activities, events, and your year-round effort to have a positive impact on your community and environment. Teach your children how to examine their actions, to enjoy the outdoors, and appreciate and support their local environment.
Be a Helper
It seems like a simple concept, but an easy way to have a positive impact on your environment and community is to both look for the helpers and be a helper. Seek out people and organizations that are creating positive impacts in your community and support them. Be climate literate and encourage people to learn about issues surrounding environmental protection, conservation, and climate change. Find your niche and focus on things that you feel passionately about. Help those around you to become involved and encourage climate advocacy in your community.
Below, you can see Josie Billie planting native herbs in the herb garden at Okalee Indian Village in March 1960. Josie Billie was at one time the head medicine man. William D. Boehmer took the image. Today, you may recognize the image from the Earth Day 2023 fliers for the Okalee Indian Village and Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum.
Earth Day 2023 with the Seminole Tribe of Florida
Did you make it to the Okalee Seminole Indian Village in Hollywood yesterday? If you missed it, there is still one more FREE event you can attend to celebrate Earth Day 2023 with the Seminole Tribe of Florida! Join the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum TOMORROW on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation to enjoy Earth Day the Native way. Below, you can get the inside scoop on just a few exciting activities and performances throughout the Earth Day celebrations. Looking for the entire Earth Day event schedule? You can check it out here, along with more information.
Barry Big Mountain and the Iron Horse Dancers
This year, Barry Big Mountain and the Iron Horse Dancers from Go Native Now will be on the Museum campus, educating and sharing unique native dance styles from across the country. Go Native Now, based out of Kissimmee, FL, offers several native educational programs including the Iron Horse Dancers. This educational program showcases the beauty and richness of native America. During the program, they will explain each style and performance, sharing their story. You will also “learn the connection with song and dance to the earth and the animals and relationship with the earth and everything on it in respect and a celebration of life!” They will be performing at 10am and 12pm.
Rez Jamz is a unique program that spotlights Tribal singers, songwriters, and musicians. Organized by Quenton Cypress, the Heritage and Environment Resources Office (HERO) community engagement manager, Rez Jamz gives lesser-known artists the opportunity to perform and record their music. Originally created during the turmoil of the pandemic, Rez Jamz started at the To-Pee-Kee-Ke Yak-Ne Community Center on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation. In a 2021 Seminole Tribune article about Rez Jamz, Cypress explained that “Rez Jamz is for artists who aren’t super well known, some do it as a hobby and may have Instagram and Facebook pages where they sometimes post. It’s modeled after MTV Unplugged and is mostly acoustic music.” Tomorrow, you can experience Rez Jamz for yourself at Earth Day 2023 with the Seminole Tribe of Florida! Rez Jamz will be performing at 3:00pm on the Stage.
This year, there will be many non-profit partners excited to share with you specialized knowledge, Earth Day activities, and more! In addition to Native craft and tribal food vendors, the event will have partners such as Museum of Discovery and Science, History Miami Museum, Hendry Glades Audubon, Tree Amigos Growers, Florida Trail Association, and NASA. They will be sharing specialized Earth friendly activities, educational workshops, gardening tips, and expert tips! On the event schedule, there are two Garden Workshops by Tree Amigos Growers at 11am and 2pm in the Presenters Tent. Additionally, NASA will be presenting “Learn About Earth From Space” at 12:30pm in the Theatre.
Activities and Guided Tours
Throughout the day, there will be ample opportunities for you to participate in a number of Earth Day activities and guided tours! Starting at 7:30am on the Boardwalk, before the formal festivities, there will be a Health Walk to set the tone for the day. At 10:15am and 1:30pm, there will be a Guided Nature Tour, also on the Boardwalk. Interested in Birds of the Boardwalk? Join a Bird Tour at 10:30am. Make sure to register at the exhibitors’ table, and meet at the Presenter’s Tent.
If you have kids, or love Earth-friendly crafts, join any of the three craft activity opportunities. There will be a paper beads activity from 10am-12pm in the Presenter’s Tent. This will be followed by a clay seed bomb activity from 12pm-2pm. Then, from 2pm-4pm, a clay pottery craft activity. Close out the day with an Earth inspired poetry workshop in the Workshop Tent at 3:00pm, and get creative!
However you choose to celebrate Earth Day 2023, do your best to be mindful, engaged, and curious. How can you create and encourage positive change in your environment and local community? Challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone and make connections that support, uplift, and enhance the world around you, and how you interact with it.
Originally from Washington state, Deanna Butler received her BA in Archaeological Sciences from the University of Washington in 2014. Deanna moved to South Florida in 2016. Soon, she began working for the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Tribal Historic Preservation Office. Deanna was the THPO’s Archaeological Collections Assistant from 2017-2021. While at the THPO, Deanna worked to preserve, support, and process the Tribe’s archaeological collection. She often wrote the popular Artifact of the Month series, and worked on many community and educational outreach programs. She lives in Fort Myers, FL with her husband, son, and dog.