Graphic of green Earth with trees, buildings, and other landscape graphics arranged around the circumference.Beyond April 22, Earth Day, the whole month of April is Earth month. With warmer weather and so many West Virginia trees, shrubs, and flowers in bloom, it’s a great time to notice the natural beauty Earth offers.

Here are three ideas I came up with for my Earth month celebrations.

  1. Play outside.

After so many days of staying indoors, it’s time to bring children outside to enjoy the fresh lawn, scent of new leaves and flowers, and open space that backyards, community parks and even traffic restricted/safety protected street play can provide.

Why is Getting outside to play for at least one hour every day so important for children? Access to active play in nature and outdoors is an important ingredient for healthy child development. Increasing children’s opportunities for self-directed play outdoors in all settings is an important component of promoting healthy physical and psychological child development (Source: Outdoor Play and Learning Program for Schools: Opal).  Researchers agree that allowing time for unstructured play outside, children become active agents in their own development.

  1. Take a careful look at my outdoor surroundings.

Programs like GLOBE encourage youth and adults around the world to take notice of the Earth ecology and systems that make up their environment. One current project underway right now (April 2019) seeks land cover measurements with a focus on tree heights. If youth groups or school-based classrooms take measurements of trees at the same site at least three times per week for one month, they can receive a digital Trees Around the Globe badge.

A series of images celebrating Earth Day by youth around the globe.
Why is tree height important?
Measuring the height of trees in a specific area is a gateway to understanding the structure of tree canopies, the 3D arrangement of individual trees, and suggests how local ecosystems function to cycle carbon, water, and nutrients.

  1. Share my love of the outdoors and nature with my family, friends, and pets.

DaffodilsBeing outside, enjoying the beauties of Earth and nature are even better when I have company with which to share these experiences. Going for walks in parks, public wooded areas, and even around my neighborhood provide good opportunities for building relationships with friends, neighbors, and loved ones. Practically speaking, I want to share the health benefits of being outdoors with those I care about.

Why is a walk outside so much better than 60-minutes on the treadmill? Getting outside provides a way to escape the stress of work, school, or household worries. Spending time in nature relieves stress in teens and adults. Bloodstream levels of the stress hormone cortisol are lowered after time spent outside.  Healthy exposure to nature also helps keep our immune system prepared to ward off harmful pathogens.  A brisk walk outdoors helps to sharpen our concentration and focus. Read more about the benefits of being outside: https://askthescientists.com/outdoors/

How will you celebrate Earth month?