- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 22, 2001

Happy Earth Day everyone. This yearly demonstration has taken place since 1970 when its founder, Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson, and 20 million Americans joined to make politicians and the world aware of environmental degradation.
Numerous organizations offer cyber-tributes and calls to action in honor of Earth Day. One group, the Wilderness Society, has been posting an Earth Day site since 1996 to give children, teachers and adults plenty of reasons to take care of the environment.

Earth Day 2001

Site address: https://earthday.wilderness.org

Creator:

Based in the District, the Wilderness Society has nine regional offices. The organization has worked to protect America's wilderness and develop a nationwide network of wild lands through public education, scientific analysis and advocacy since its founding in 1935.

Creator quotable:

"We created this site to help educators find science-based material that will help them develop Earth Day activities," says Mr. Nelson, counselor to the Wilderness Society.
"Environmental education is having an impact. Today, for example, grade-schoolers ask more intelligent questions than college seniors did in 1970. This new generation of students can persuade the political establishment to initiate a national dialogue on sustainability. Such a dialogue will provide the information and public understanding necessary to guide us on a path to sustainability."

Word from the Webwise:

Children can become life-long planetary heroes when they put into action what they learn at this colorful and informative site, which also serves as a doorway to the Wilderness Society's site (www.wilderness.org).
At the Earth Day 2001 site, visitors can start at the "All About Earth Day" section, which includes a message from Mr. Nelson and an environment time line that reaches back to 1872 when Yellowstone became the nation's first national park.
This year's Earth Day theme is "Save Energy Now," an important conservation message for children and adults, particularly considering California's power woes and with politicians debating about exploring for fuel in some parts of Alaska's protected wilderness.
Through the site's "Arctic Adventure" section, teachers and parents can help visitors understand how the search for oil in the last "American Wilderness" will affect this refuge off the coast of the Beaufort Sea on Alaska's north shore.
A slide-show presentation of breathtakingly beautiful photos, taken at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by photojournalist John Dunne, helps the untamed beauty of this land come to life. As visitors view the photos, they will be introduced to the mountains, foothills and coastal plain that provide habitats for more than 250 animal species.
Other aspects of the "Arctic Adventure" include the story of Migratory Max, an American golden plover and one of the 150 species of birds that migrate through North America's back yards on their way to Alaska. Visitors will learn that birds such as Migratory Max migrate from Alaska to the Eastern Seaboard possibly into back yards of the metro D.C. area finally resting in South America each fall before returning to the Arctic Coastal Plain in the spring.
After children understand why the Arctic refuge is important to conservationists, they can visit "Kids in Action," which is filled with ways to get involved. For example, visitors can send members of Congress and President Bush a conservation message.
The site's pages also include an Earth Day quiz, an Earth Day e-mail postcard and an area to send e-mail messages to Mr. Nelson.
In the "Planetary Heroes" area, visitors can read biographies of Mardy Murie and Rachel Carson, who along with Mr. Nelson, have dedicated their lives to conservation. "Kids as Planetary Heroes" features real-life stories of how children have taken action to help the environment.
Ease of use: A tight design combined with quick download times and pages that fit on almost any monitor screen makes Earth Day 2001 a fun, satisfying experience. Visitors will need the latest RealPlayer plug-in to hear audio messages from Mr. Nelson as well as the Acrobat plug-in to view some files.

Don't miss:

Visitors looking for students' artwork should stop by the "Kids in Action" area and click on "What Are Me and You Gonna Do?" Compiled from letters and illustrations sent in 1970 to the founder of Earth Day, the online book features six pieces filled with anti-pollution messages.

Family activity:

The "Teacher's Lounge" features a new curriculum and activities area concentrating on teaching fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders about the wilderness and animals. Through downloadable portable document format (PDF) files, adults can give children hands-on activities from crossword puzzles to identifying outdoor smells to designing a mythical protector of the environment, Sergeant Sprawl.
My favorite project has visitors create a card game to help identify threatened and endangered species. Visitors use the data provided to learn about 24 animals, from the West Indian manatee to the giant kangaroo rat, and make a deck of cards from cardboard. For complete instructions, check out the fifth-grade area.

Cyber-sitter synopsis:

Students will be able to digest the pages of this site in a few hours, and then can move on to the main Wilderness Society pages to keep studying. Parents worried about letting their children submit information to the site will find a "Children's Privacy Statement" on the opening screen.

Overall grade: B

Remember: The information on the Internet is constantly changing. Please verify the advice on the sites before you act to be sure it's accurate and updated. Health sites, for example, should be discussed with your own physician. Have a cool site for the family? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at Webwise, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send an e-mail message ([email protected]).

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