The first Earth day was on April 22, 1970 and 20 million Americans came together to celebrate environmental reform. Later that year the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created. In 1990 Earth Day went international and is now celebrated in more than 193 countries. Although environmental issues and concerns have shifted through the decades, April 22nd remains a symbolic date for environmental education and reform. On Earth Day April 22, 2016 175 nations signed the Paris climate accord. This deal aims to slow the rise of greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible for warming our Earth. 2015 was the planet’s hottest year on record and it is increasingly important that we spread environmental awareness.

This April was the 18th Annual Earth Day Celebration at Bahia Honda State Park in the Florida Keys. Visitors were treated to live music, a sand sculpture contest, and face painting! The Pigeon Key Foundation brought a touch tank full of marine creatures collected from around the 5-acre island. The stars of our tank were definitely our Basket Star and Spiny Lobsters!

The Pigeon Key Foundation provides uniquely tailored marine science programs to a wide variety of students. We encourage kids to learn about our unique Florida Keys environment through hands-on activities such as tide-pooling, snorkeling, marine scavenger hunts, fishing, and science labs. One of our favorite activities is the Solar Energy Lab, which involves learning about Pigeon Key’s 26 kilowatt solar array and experimenting with individual solar panels. The solar array and battery system were installed in 2013 and on a sunny day provide enough energy for the entire island to run all day!

Conservation is an integral part of all our educational programs and our staff work hard to send each education group home with a new understanding, respect, and appreciation for our marine habitats. Bahia Honda State Park’s Earth Day event was a special opportunity for Pigeon Key to show a wider audience the amazing native marine life.