At a recent gardening event at the Rockdale Urban Learning Garden, employees and volunteers from the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden participated in hands-on learning activities with the students of Rockdale academy. One of the most memorable stations was the Mason Bee spot that featured nesting materials, cocoons, and real live bees! Students – though many were visibly nervous at the prospect of a bee on their bare skin – still reached out their hands and took the pollinators in their palms. They cupped their fingers around them, so careful and gentle, as the bees had only recently emerged from their cocoons and didn’t have full use of their wings yet. Then, students’ faces filled with amazement and wonder as the bees, finally warmed up, took flight.
This event exemplifies the Zoo’s mission to provide access to environmental education for all. This Earth Day, AmeriCorps Members serving at the zoo will return to the Urban Learning Garden for yet another immersive educational experience with Rockdale Academy students.
Along with our educational programs and our efforts in fostering compassion for nature and wildlife, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is committed to maintaining its status as one of the Greenest Zoos in America. The Zoo continues to support annual initiatives like the Rain Barrel Auction and the Plant for Pollinators Challenge and has goals to soon become a net-zero waste facility. Sustainability and building a better home for wildlife are key priorities and the Zoo constantly seeks ways to aid in cultivating a healthy environment and a healthy community. This Earth Day, we challenge you to do the same.
Earth Day, a day of celebration that began as a grassroots environmental protest in 1970, but which has since blossomed into a global event, is the perfect day to reconsider the ways we interact with this planet. The need for increased stewardship and responsible resource management is still very much present and makes this day, and all it represents, is just as important as it was at its inception.
- Step 1: Go outside. Step out into your backyard or visit a local park or greenspace. Spend at least 10 minutes with nothing else occupying you but the nature and native wildlife that fill the space around you. What sounds do you hear? Are there any smells lifted onto the flow of the breeze? Are there any trees or flowers in bloom?
- Step 2: Change one thing. Use reusable bags when you go to the store or start buying locally grown produce or start recycling.
- Step 3: Build a better home for wildlife. Make a homemade bird feeder, build a bat box, plant native plants for pollinators. Check out the Zoo’s Build a Better
Home For Wildlife Program for more detailed instructions on how to make your spaces more friendly to local plants and animals.
- Step 4: Spread the word. Inspire others to make changes like this as well! Post about that local farm where you got your eggs on social media. Encourage your friends and family to reduce their waste and use reusable water bottles and other reusable items.
If you’re ready for next steps or further challenges, there is always more you could do. For instance, join a local environmental organization, volunteer with the parks or even here at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, or organize your own group to clean up an outdoor space around your community. While looming threats of climate change and habitat loss can feel overwhelming, individual actions can amount to incredible impacts – especially the more people that get involved.
Take this Earth Day to remind yourself of the magic of an experience like holding a young bee in an open palm, or the amazement of seeing broccoli grow up from the soil and realizing that of course it isn’t just something that suddenly appears, wrapped in plastic, at the supermarket. Let those moments inspire you to take action.
The Earth is our home and it can sustain us, but in order for it to do so, we must take care of it in return.
Happy Earth Day!