Prior to the first Earth Day in 1970, regulations to protect our air, water, and land simply did not exist. It took one Wisconsin native, Gaylord Nelson, to start the conversation of how to put environmental protection on the national agenda. He accomplished this incredible task by inventing Earth Day, a day to celebrate our earth's natural resources and recognize the importance of protecting them.

On April 22nd in 1970, the first Earth Day, twenty million Americans demonstrated throughout the U.S. and called for stricter regulations on pollution, land use, and water quality. The result of these demonstrations was creation in December 1970 of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the beginning of the "Environmental Decade". This decade brought about groundbreaking legislation such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act.

Each year, April 22nd represents a day to celebrate how far our country has come in terms of environmental awareness and conservation since the days of unregulated pollution. Here are a few ways to celebrate Earth Day in your community:

  1. Illinois DNR's Earth Day in the Parks
  2. Milwaukee Riverkeeper's River Cleanup
  3. DuPage County River Sweep
  4. Wisconsin DNR's Friends of the Parks Earth Day Celebration at Mirror Lake
  5. Check out for help organizing your own Earth Day event

About the Author

Maria Kealy

Maria C. Kealey, E.I.T. 
Project Engineer

Maria brings fresh innovation coupled with effective communication skills to her role as a project engineer. She has been employed with Ruekert & Mielke, Inc. (R/M) since 2015 while she completed her degree in Civil Engineering and obtained a certificate in Environmental Studies at UW-Madison. Maria has been involved in a wide array of projects thus far, providing her with comprehensive knowledge of the industry. She understands the needs of clients to exceed expectations. These skills allow her to efficiently manage projects and coordinate design efforts, while maintaining timely communication with community staff and residents.

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