CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) —  Earth Day is held on April 22 each year, marking the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

According to earthday.org, Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson had long been concerned about the deteriorating environment in the country. In January 1969, he wanted to infuse the energy of student anti-war protests with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution.

Sen. Nelson announced the idea for a teach-in on college campuses and persuaded colleagues to organize a campus teach-in. They chose April 22, a weekday falling between Spring Break and Final Exams, to maximize the greatest student participation.

Since then, officials said Earth Day is widely recognized as the largest secular observance in the world, marked by more than a billion people every year. They said it’s a day of action to change human behavior and create global, national, and local policy changes.

In 2023, Central Illinois is celebrating Earth Day with a number of events. From upcycling, to crafts, to nature journaling, communities are hosting a wide variety of activities and fun for everyone.

Earth Day Upcycle Madness at Tolono Public Library

April 20: 4-5:30 p.m.

One of the many aspects of Earth Day is recycling, but at the Tolono Public Library, you can use those recycled materials to create art. Everyone is invited to make a functional or beautiful piece of art using recycled materials and art supplies in celebration of Earth Day.

All ages are welcome.

Earth Day Sun Catchers at Champaign Public Library

April 20: 6:30 – 7:15 p.m.

Have you ever made an Earth Day sun catcher? Now you can at the Champaign Public Library’s Family Fun Night. It’s a weekly evening for games, crafts, STEAM activities, and more.

The library said the program is designed especially for families with school-aged kids. Other similar events include Read to the Dogs with Greyt Readers on April 13 and Origami Frog on April 27.

Creative Reuse Art at Mahomet Public Library

April 21: 6-7 p.m.

Celebrate Earth Day by using second-hand materials to create awesome pieces of art. The Mahomet Public Library said they will provide a variety of materials. All you have to bring is your creativity.

This is part of the library’s Family Fun Friday series.

Festival of Spring and River Cleanup at Conservation District

April 22: Begins at 8 a.m.

Celebrate Earth Day and welcome spring with the annual Festival of Spring and River Cleanup. Other events include bird banding, hikes, Birds of Prey show, canoeing, Heirloom Garden tours, Trobaugh-Good House tours, and more.

Canoeing costs $3 per person, and all other events are free. More information can be found here.

Community Day at Boneyard Creek

April 22: Begins at 9 a.m.
(Rain date: April 29)
Deadline to register: April 17

If you’re looking for a new way to help save the environment, you can help restore the beauty of Boneyard Creek in Champaign, Urbana, and Campustown by taking part in this organized group clean-up event. Officials said this is a way for the community to engage in awareness and responsibility of naturalizing and sustaining the area’s waterways through organized litter cleanup, education, and removal of invasive species.

Location sites include:

  • Scott Park
  • Kaufman Lake/Heritage Park
  • Boulware Trail
  • ​Hedge Rd. Pop-Up Park
  • Anita Purves
  • Boneyard Creek Crossing
  • Savoy Rt. 45
  • U of I Campus
  • ​North Prospect

A free lunch will follow the cleanup at Scott Park. . More information and registration can be found here.

Cleaning up Tilton at Community Center

April 22: 9 a.m. – noon

Saving a little piece of the planet this Earth Day in Tilton. The group will meet at the Tilton Community Center and will focus on cleaning up areas in the village. Officials said lunch will be provided after the clean-up for volunteers.

Spring Plant Sale at Delight Flower Farm

April 22: 12-3 p.m.

Spend Earth Day shopping for plants at Delight Flower Farm. There will also be local artists and food vendors at the event. Pre-sale orders for pick-up are also available.

There is also a possibility of rain during the event. Officials remind everyone to not forget a rain jacket.

Earth Day for Everyone at Meadowbrook Park

April 22: 1-4 p.m.

Everyone is welcome to take part in celebrating Earth Day with many festivities planned at Meadowbrook Park. Events include a springtime stroll through the park, live music, hands-on activities and demonstrations by local community groups, and more! Activity stations will be spread throughout the park.

A tour of local bike-friendly businesses will also depart at 3 p.m. You can sign up for the tour here. You can also call the Urbana Park District at 217-384-4062 for more information about the event.

Nature journaling class at Allerton Park

April 22: 1-4 p.m.

Celebrate Earth Day by exploring Allerton’s McDonald Family Trail. While on the hike, you will observe the diversity of plants, wildflowers, animals, and the Sangamon River. You can also deepen your love of nature by observing and exploring a variety of pencil, ink, and watercolor techniques, led by local artist Belinda Beccue. Each participant will receive a nature journal sketchbook, traveling watercolor set, pen, and pencils.

Participants will meet at The Lost Garden/McDonald Family Trails Parking lot for the event. The class costs $45 per person, and you can register here. Space is limited and all sales are final. All participants are encouraged to bring a small backpack and a bottle of water.

Magnificent Monarchs at Mahomet Public Library

April 22: 2-3 p.m.

Celebrate Earth Day by talking about the Illinois state insect: the Monarch butterfly. Presenter Anita Broeren will lead a discussion through some activities to teach about the lovely creatures.

Mahomet Public Library will be providing activities that teach people about the butterflies, why they are endangered, and why it’s important for us to protect them.