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           In the 1960s and into the early 70s, the current state of the environment for the United States was a critical talking point for a lot of communities. Most communities were that of educated sorts, that being schools and universities around the country. Students were learning of the environment and that of who and what was harming it. They wanted it to stop and started to take action to direct change of how their planet is taken care of, for it is their only home of course.


President Enarson and the Environmental Campus Organization Planting a White Pine on the North Bank of Mirror Lake

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   The first Earth Day at Ohio State University was an experience of that not witnessed by anyone before. It was not the only event going on that day and was actually joined by many other schools, universities, and other demonstrations all around the country. This special day took place on April 22nd, 1970 and for Ohio State, was filled with many key speakers and activities throughout the entirety of the day. With a list of household Ohio State names speaking, names like John Glenn and Robert Taft Jr., it garnered a lot of attention from political candidates and spoke volumes as to what was meant to be achieved with this day. Taft hoped for “continual awareness” and not just a one-day effort for the planet.

           Another key event that happened in Ohio took place up at the Cuyahoga River where Harold L. Enarson, Cleveland State University’s president at the time, led a march of 1000 students to the river to “reclaim it”.Enarson later served as the president of Ohio State University and along with his continuous contributions to helping make the environment better, planted a long-needle pine tree on the north shore of Mirror Lake, here on campus. The white pine still stands today as Enarson said, “We plant this tree not for its enjoyment today, but for the generations to follow”.

           The first Earth Day on The Ohio State University’s campus was nothing short of a special moment for the planet and its inhabitants. Through the actions of the campus community for Ohio State, the university and state leaders, as well as other individuals and groups across the nation, the first Earth Day in the United States was a major success and laid the groundwork for many more Earth Days to come. We still celebrate Earth Day today in hopes of creating a safer and healthier environment not just for our own sake, but for those generations to come after us as well.

  • The Lantern, “Concern Marks Earth Day Across Nation” (The Ohio State University, 1970)
  • The Lantern, “Taft Hopes Earth Day is Not Just One-Day Effort”. (The Ohio State University, 1970)
  • The Ohio State University Sustainability Institute, “The First Earth Day Buckeyes Remember The Launch of The Modern Environmental Movement” (The Ohio State University, 2020)
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