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Happy 50th anniversary of Earth Day!

April 22, 2020

Earth Day@50 Nelson Institute banner

In recognition of this momentous occasion, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has signed a proclamation officially stating that today, April 22, 2020 is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. In his proclamation, he recognized Nelson Institute namesake, Gaylord Nelson as the founder of Earth Day, noting the grassroots movement that led to over 20 million Americans participating in the first Earth Day teach-in five decades ago.

Today, as the Nelson Institute looks to carry on the rich Wisconsin tradition of environmental education, we are sharing the following resources and information with you in hopes that you will join us in celebrating this very special anniversary.

Earth Day 2020 Aspiring for Sustainability Striving for Justice Crafting the Planet

On Monday, April 20, the Nelson Institute held its annual Earth Day Conference online. We welcomed more than 3,000 participants from around the world and were joined by a wide range of speakers who shared how we can best leverage the past environmental movements while incorporating an increased sense of social justice. Speakers also shared how we can all work together to craft a future filled with hope, positivity, and intentionality.

While the conference has closed, we will be sharing a number of the webinars and prerecorded sessions through various outlets over the next few months.

Earth Day Conference Videos

As we celebrate Earth Day, we invite you to view these popular webinars from our Earth Day Conference that focus on our collective future, the legacy, and the connection between the planet and human health.

As we celebrate the past 50 years of the environmental movement, what choices can we make that will improve the world over the next five decades? Join us as we hear from leaders that will discuss the importance of social justice, technology, and intentionality in crafting our shared future. We invite you to view this video.

From the increased transmission of vector-borne diseases and COVID-19 to transportation, pollution, and more, climate change is impacting our well-being. We invite you to view this video from Jonathan Patz, the director of the Global Health Institute at UW-Madison that explores the interdependencies between the health of the planet and the health of humans.

We invite you to view this session featuring Tia Nelson, the daughter of Nelson Institute namesake and Earth Day founder, Gaylord Nelson, as well as Adam Rome, author of The Genius of Earth Day: How a 1970 Teach-In Unexpectedly Made for the First Green Generation. As a part of this session, Nelson and Rome discuss how Earth Day has impacted our culture and what the success of this initiative can teach us as we address global climate change and growing environmental challenges. Nelson also shares the film, When the Earth Moves which launched on April 15.

Earth Day in the News

  • PBS Wisconsin Biographies: Gaylord Nelson

    • Learn more about Earth Day founder and Nelson Institute namesake, Gaylord Nelson through this short video and additional K-12 friendly material.
  • Chancellor Becky Blank's Blog 

    • University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Becky Blank highlights the Nelson Institute Earth Day@50 virtual conference as well as the ecological and environmental research taking place at UW-Madison.
  • WKOW Earth Day Special

    • Tune in to WKOW-Channel 27 on Wednesday, 4/22/20, at 6:30 p.m. CDT for an Earth Day special featuring the Nelson Institute.
  • Beyond Earth Day

    • Explore a series of articles highlighting Nelson Institute's celebration of its 50th anniversary and Earth Day
  • On Wisconsin

    • University of Wisconsin-Madison's alumni and friends magazine, On Wisconsin highlighted the Nelson Institute's 50th anniversary as well as the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.
  • How a Wisconsin Senator Helped Establish Earth Day 50 Years Ago

    • Nelson Institute Dean, Paul Robbins and Tia Nelson, the daughter of Earth Day founder, Wisconsin Governor, United States Senator, and Nelson Institute namesake, Gaylord Nelson share their perspectives on the history, and the future, of Earth Day in this article from Milwaukee Magazine.
  • Gaylord Nelson and Earth Day

    • Learn more about the first Earth Day and browse the Nelson collection of documents.

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day

Order an Earth Day@50 t-shirt As you wear your Nelson Institute gear and explore the planet, share your photos on social media using #IamNelson..

Orders will be accepted through May 1, 2020. Please note that shipping is delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.