April 11, 2002 – While every day is Earth Day, the nation observes it on April 22, and the little island of St. John, in part because of the presence of the V.I. National Park, celebrates it in a relatively big way.
This year's observance "will be an educational experience," Emily Burton with the Friends of the Park said, "and people can learn about how they can give back to St. John and the environment."
The Friends will hold a variety of Earth Day events in the park-owned field next to the Visitor Center in Cruz Bay. Visitors will be able to sample cookies baked in a solar oven, make some recycled art, take part in fish and wildlife games, learn some lessons on the "leave-no-trace" outdoor ethnic, and indulge in face painting and Shetland pony rides.
Meanwhile, at the St. John Glassworks studio located behind the Mongoose Junction shopping center, artisans will demonstrate how to make decorative objects from recycled glass.
The Friends also plans to launch its Adopt-A-Beach/Bay/Trail program with an island-wide cleanup. Local businesses, community organizations and school groups have agreed to make regular cleanups of areas that are heavily used during the tourism season.
Burton said groups already have adopted the Cruz Bay, Hawksnest Bay, Gibney Hawksnest Bay, Maho Bay, Francis Bay, Coral Bay and Salt Pond Bay beaches.
The park is looking for teams of certified scuba divers from local dive organizations to help with the underwater aspects of that cleanup on April 21 and 22. Thomas Kelley, the park's dive coordinator, asked that scuba enthusiasts not participating in the group effort do a cleanup on their own at sites they regularly dive. "The whole idea is to clean up St. John, not just the park," he said.
In conjunction with Earth Day, the park is conducting a contest at St. John schools to teach students the importance of recycling. The youngsters have been collecting recyclables for the last two weeks. Nearly a ton of bottles and cans have been weighed in already.
Prizes will be awarded to the three classrooms that collect the most stuff. First prize is a group excursion on the Atlantis Submarine. Second prize is an overnight stay at V.I. Environmental Resource Station, and third is a visit to Coral World. Winners will be announced on Earth Day.
If you'd like to help with activities, call Burton at 779-4940. If you want to participate in the Earth Day dive cleanup, call Kelley at 693-8950, ext. 225.
Earth Day got its start back in 1970 as a way to bring attention to the planet's environmental plight. It is celebrated all over the country. For more background and some ideas on how it's being observed elsewhere this year, visit the Earth Day Network and EnviroLink Network Web sites.
Publisher's note : Like the St. John Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.