ABOVE: Gardner Parks and Recreation’s official mascot, Greeny, was at the Arbor Day volunteer group clean up of  Gardner Greenway and Winwood Park on Arbor Day, April 22. RIGHT: The weather was a little on the chilly side, but 7 year old Cooper King of Gardner Boy Scout Pack 3388 was ready to go at the group clean up of  Gardner Greenway and Winwood Park on Arbor Day, April 22. Photos courtesy of Rick Poppitz

About 150 area residents participated in a clean up effort to honor Earth Day, and local students participated in various activities.
Earth Day is celebrated annually to celebrate the planet’s environment and increase awareness of pollution. The day, marked on April 22, is observed worldwide.
Students at Moonlight Elementary practiced recycling and designed bookmarks from cereal box tops, and Madison Elementary students collected used towels for a local animal shelter, according to Leeann Northway, USD 231 public information officer.
In Gardner about 150 volunteers collected about 1,000 pounds of trash.
“It’s to support the environment and to keep Gardner beautiful,” said Daneeka Marshall-Oquendo, Gardner communications director. This is the 17th year Gardner has honored Earth Day, and about one mile of area was cleaned.
Started as a grassroots movement, Earth Day created public support for the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and contributed to the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Endangered Species Act and several other environmental laws. The idea for Earth Day was proposed by then-Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, who died in 2005.
Various events are held to demonstrate support for protecting the environment. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day events in more than 193 countries, according to the Earth Day Network. In 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco, peace activist John McConnell proposed a day to honor the Earth and the concept of peace, to first be celebrated on March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere.