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With most of our country sheltering in place, we have an opportunity to really embrace Earth Day at home with our families.

Wednesday marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, with the first Earth Day celebrated in 1970 in schools and communities around the United States as a way to call attention to environmental issues. According to the Earth Day Network, the occasion is now celebrated in more than 190 counties.

With most of our country sheltering in place, we have an opportunity to really embrace Earth Day at home with our families. Hopefully, you have taken time over the last days to really slow down and appreciate nature around you. Earth Day offers a great opportunity to celebrate while safely staying within recommended shelter-in-place guidelines. Special Earth Day activities could include planting a garden or creating nature poetry.

Following are some other ideas to get you and your family in an Earth Day spirit:

♦ Hold a family nature photo contest. Give the members of your family 24 hours to take nature photos from places nearby using their cellphones. Give simple prizes for the most creative photos. You can use an online photo service to create a book of the photos as a memento.

♦ Explore your pollinator garden. Practice identifying and counting insects to get ready for University of Georgia Extension’s Great Georgia Pollinator Census on Aug. 21-22. The project website at ggapc.org contains all you need to learn more about the pollinators in your garden.

♦ Learn to identify the birds in your yard. For added fun learn their calls. The Cornell Lab has free resources on bird identification. Feeding birds is a wonderful family hobby. Get tips on how from UGA Extension bulletin 976 at extension.uga.edu/publications.

♦ Discover more about the trees in your yard. Can you identify them? The Arbor Day Foundation has a great website for tree identification. Learn about the role each tree plays in the wildlife ecosystem. Create some leaf rubbings to decorate your home. For more information, see UGA Extension bulletin 987 on native trees and shrubs.

♦ Organize your recyclables. If you don’t already recycle, spend some time creating an area in your home to place and organize your recyclables. Research whether your trash pickup service also takes recyclables or learn where to take your recyclables locally. For more tips, see UGA Extension bulletin 1050-2 on recycling.

♦ Plan an Earth Day dinner. This is a tradition with many families each year choose a theme and plan dinner and activities around it. For example, plan a pollinator dinner choosing foods that need a pollinator. Strawberry shortcake is a great dessert for this theme. Other themes are foods grown in the soil, like potatoes, radishes, sweet potatoes and onions. Or perhaps a spring greens dinner with different lettuces and salad toppings. Cooking together is a wonderful activity for stress relief. Decorate your table for the occasion and plan some relevant dinner conversation topics.

For more information on Earth Day visit www.earthday.org.

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Becky Griffin is an educational program specialist with the University of Georgia Extension in Cobb County.

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