Earth Day has turned into Earth Week as the Virgin Islands joins with other communities around the world this week to celebrate the 43rd annual event. The actual Earth Day is Monday, April 22.
On St. John, the Earth Day celebration will kick off Friday with the V.I. Waste Management Authority’s Litter Stomp.
“The Litter Stomp was initiated as part of our environmental education program to tell students about the impact that littering has on our environment,” Waste Management spokesman Stella Saunders said.
It begins at 8:45 a.m. at Julius E. Sprauve School.
Also on Friday the Friends of V.I. National Park’s annual Earth Day Environmental Fair runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the park’s ballfield in Cruz Bay. While the event focuses on the island’s schoolchildren, everyone is welcome to attend.
Friends program manager Karen Jarvis said that when it comes to students, the event creates future environmental stewards.
“Education is key,” she said.
She expects about 400 to 500 students to attend for presentations from about 25 different government agencies and nonprofit groups with an interest in the environment.
On Saturday, the Friends host the fourth annual Reef Fest. It runs from noon to 5 p.m. at Trunk Bay Beach and is geared toward families.
“It’s the marine component to Earth Day,” Jarvis said.
The Trunk Bay admission fee is waived after 11 a.m. and the Friends will provide a free round trip shuttle from the Friends of the Park store at Mongoose Junction in Cruz Bay. Jarvis said the shuttles will start running from the store at 11:30 a.m.
Food will be for sale at theTrunk Bay concession stand.
On St. Thomas, Coral World Ocean Park plans a cleanup of the surrounding area from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Coral World marketing director Valerie Peters said the first 50 people who sign up will receive free admission to the marine park.
Peters said others who visit on Saturday will get $5 off adult admissions and $3 off children’s admissions.
Participants will snorkel and dive the adjacent Water Bay to clean it up, Peters said. They will pick up litter on Coki Beach Road and at Coki Beach where the vendors sell their wares.
“Meet at Coral World parking lot by 9 a.m.,” Peters said.
Coral World will also have exhibits by nonprofit agencies involved in environmental issues.
“Our main focus is watershed education,” Peters said.
On St. Croix, St. Croix Environmental Association celebrates Earth Day on Tuesday and Wednesday with its annual EcoFair at St. George Village Botanical Gardens from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The theme is Energy Conservation and Renewable Resources for a Green Virgin Islands.
SEA expects about 1,100 students to attend. On Tuesday, students in fifth and sixth grades will participate. Wednesday is for students in third and fourth grades.
Roberts said it “exposes them to difference science concepts. Science doesn’t just happen in school,” she said.
Tuesday is also Litter Stomp for fifth- and sixth-graders. They’ll march one mile from the V.I. Waste Management Authority Office in William’s Delight to the botanical gardens.
“The Litter Stomp helps to reinforce pride in our homes and encourages students to show their support by participating in this march,” Saunders said.
On both days, about two dozen government and nonprofit agencies – as well as a handful of businesses – will be on hand with information or interactive presentations for the students.
Tan Tan Tours Takes on Trash runs from 1 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday on St. Croix. The litter pickup is sponsored by SEA, private donor Ruth Blyther, Tan Tan Tours, The Nature Conservancy and Reef Jam.
The event is free for University of the Virgin Islands students and $20 for other adults.
Blyther said, “I watched a short video about how much plastic is in our oceans and how each day millions of tons of garbage end up in the sea.”
“Plastic is forever,” she said, “and it is now entering our food chain. I was so sad and angry. This is not the world that we want our children to inherit.
Blyther said she decided, “I wanted to do a small part and to give back to this amazing island I call home.”
Tan Tan Tours will pick up 50 volunteers at UVI’s St. Croix campus at 1 p.m. SEA Education Coordinator Lynnea Roberts said the group will stop at three places, with two of them beaches.
Goals of the event include public awareness, environmental education and removing trash from the environment.
A dozen teams riding in Jeeps will compete for prizes and bragging rights while picking up trash and creating a sort of anti-trash flash mob effect.
Volunteers will be equipped with anti-litter protest signs and anti-litter pledges for the public to sign. Teams will compete in a social media contest on the day of the cleanup.
The Jeeps will be stocked with gloves, bags, reusable water bottles and snacks. The organizers will award prizes throughout the day and finish with a pizza dinner at Off the Wall restaurant.
Volunteers will be dropped off at UVI around 6:30 p.m.
The Friends needs volunteers for Earth Day; reach Jarvis at 779-4940. Contact Coral World at 775-1555. Reach SEA at 773-1989.