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Published on March 29th, 2013 | by Natural Awakenings Publishing Corp.

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Honoring Earth Day

Go Green at Parks and Other Community Events

“Most kids don’t have a clue what wilderness means,” observes Robin Snyder, chief of visitor services at New River Gorge National River, in West Virginia. “Many haven’t been exposed to basic outdoor nature activities.”

That’s why the National Park Service annually sponsors more than 57,000 local school and park programs across the country, reaching 2.9 million students each year. More than 810,000 children also are participating in its Junior Ranger program. Many programs reflect First Lady Michelle Obama’s child wellness initiative, with the appropriate twist, “Let’s move outside.”

This year’s National Park Week, from April 20 to 28, centered on Earth Day, will offer free weekday admission to all 398 national parks from April 22 to 26, adding 134 more historic sites, preserves, recreation areas and other sites to the usual 264 with no entrance fee. Earth Day’s 43rd anniversary celebrations throughout America and worldwide will encourage everyone to join in the next “billion acts of green,” aligned with the theme: The Face of Climate Change.

“In the face of unprecedented occurrences of extreme weather, loss of species and pollution, it is clear that climate change is affecting our planet. We cannot afford to wait any longer to act,” advises the Earth Day Network, which posts many ideas for participating at EarthDay.org/takeaction.

Find local park activities by state at nps.gov/findapark/event-search.htm or check a park’s website for upcoming programs. Following are other leading local events that will help citizens of all ages answer the call to go green.

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