However “mild” our winter was, it is still exciting to take notice that spring may finally be upon us. Spring is a perfect time to get outside and explore somewhere new in the Heritage Area, after the cold temperatures and snow, but before the sweltering hot temperatures of summer. If you needed another reason to head outdoors this month, April 22nd is Earth Day! How will you celebrate Earth Day in Freedom’s Frontier?
Earth Day was first designated April 22nd, 1970. Founded by Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin after seeing the aftermath of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. it was clear to Nelson and others that the health of the environment needed attention. The first Earth Day was said to have 20 million Americans demonstrating for environmental attention. Attention was given to the issues after this first demonstration, inspiring the passage of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and the development of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Since 1970, Earth Day has increased in support and continues to make huge contributions to the environment. In 1990, Earth Day shared the importance of recycling with the world and paved the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, also inspiring President Bill Clinton to award to Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995 for his role as Earth Day Founder. In 2012, Earth Day brought together 225,000 people and launched an international 1-million tree planting initiative.
Freedom’s Frontier is filled with outdoor experiences; try a hike somewhere, take a nature walk, explore a battlefield, visit one of our outdoor museums.Downtown Lawrence, Kansas hosts an annual Earth Day celebration and parade for the Earth in South Park right off Massachusetts Street. This year the parade is on Saturday April 11th. Remington Nature Center in St. Joseph, Missouri has several great events in the month of April, including “The Bees Are Back” which includes a honeybee informational session presented by Farm2Fork Ranch, and local honey tastings! While there, check out their Civil War Exhibit. Black Jack Battlefield & Nature Park provides visitors with a perfect blend of history and the outdoors. Visit any day of the week for a self-guided battlefield walking tour, starting May 2nd on Saturdays you can get a guided tour.
Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop & Farm Historic Site in Olathe, KS starts their Living History weekends in April. Visitors can explore the 1865 farm and even take a stagecoach ride. Depending on what’s happening on the farm, you may even be asked to help out with planting the spring crops! Atkins- Johnson Farm and Museum in Gladstone, MO opens for their season April 15th. After you explore the historic house and check out their new Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History traveling exhibit “Abraham Lincoln: A Man of His Time, A Man for All Time,” you can head outside and visit their heritage garden or take a self-guided walking tour of the historic Big Shoal Historic Cemetery.
If actually exploring the outdoors isn’t your thing, try attending a spring themed event like the Herb Cocktail Party at the Alexander Major’s Barn. Enjoy signature herb cocktails and a tasting menu. Then head to the John Wornall House Museum that weekend for the 37th Annual Herb and Wildflower Sale. Or visit The New Lancaster General Store in Paola, Kansas where you can sit and enjoy the outdoors and sip some Middle Creek Winery wine. The Flint Hills Discovery Center is also hosting a “Flint Hills Festival” that celebrates that music and food special to the Flint Hills on April 26th.
Another great opportunity in the Heritage Area is volunteering at one of these outdoor sites. Even though the annual Civil War Trust Park Day that encourages volunteers to come out and help maintain a lot of our battlefield sites is over for the year, we can work to make Earth Day everyday. So many of our partner sites would be happy to have help, especially in the spring time as they gear up for their summer season. Regardless of how you celebrate Earth Day and the beginning of spring, use April as a chance to get outdoors and enjoy the Heritage Area.