Select Page

This April 22 marks the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day, which was organized by Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970. The current global pandemic also gives this Earth Day special significance, as it encourages us to reflect on our relationships to each other, to other species, and to the broader environment, and to consider the kind of world we want to shape going forward. This year, we engage with Earth Day’s past, present, and future through a series of virtual events, remembering that even when we are apart, we are in this together.



Masculinity Monday: Masculinity & Sustainability

How do gender norms, roles, and expectations impact the willingness to participate in environmentalism and sustainability efforts? Join SIRT and the UW Oshkosh Women’s Center for an online discussion around gender identity, masculinity, and sustainability. Visit the Sustainability Institute on Facebook to view the materials and engage in conversation.

8:30 AM – 8:30 PM: Nelson Institute Virtual 2020 Earth Day Conference

In response to the COVID- 19 situation, the Nelson Institute will offer alternative programming to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. The virtual 2020 Earth Day Conference content will be presented online, through a mix of webinars, pre-recorded sessions and interactive discussion.



8:00-9:00  AM: The Importance of Preserving Heirloom Apples, with Dan Bussey

This presentation will cover the importance of heirloom apples and their preservation in heirloom orchards- something we will soon have here at the UW Oshkosh campus! Dan Bussey wrote a 7 volume encyclopedia called “The Illustrated History of Apples in the United States and Canada” and is actively involved in the preservation of heirloom apple varieties.

Link to join:



Travel back to the first Earth Day in 1970

Listen to the recordings of the original Earth Day speeches while viewing a picture show of archived photos and news articles here.

8:30-9:00 AM: Land Acknowledgment and Indigenous Heroes

Watch UW Oshkosh’s Intertribal Student Council special Earth Day Land Acknowledgement here. Check the ITSC Facebook page for Indigenous narratives and perspectives on the meaning of Earth Day throughout the week.

9:00-10:10 AM: Panel: Earth Day Past, Present, and Future, with opening remarks by Chancellor Andy Leavitt 

The UWO community has participated in Earth Day since its beginning. This panel, ranging from organizers of the first Earth Day 50 years ago to more recent faculty and students, will reflect on the meaning of Earth Day and the role of environmental activism in shaping a more sustainable future. Panelists include student organizers of the first Earth Day, Harley Christensen and David Misterek; current History professor Stephen Kercher; former student Dani Stolley; and current student Samantha Sprenger.


10:10-11:30 AM: Pathways to Climate Neutrality for UW Oshkosh

Environmental Studies Capstone students will present on pathways to climate neutrality for UW Oshkosh, and will take questions in live Q&A sessions.


12:00-1:00 PM: Panel: COVID-19 and Sustainability

This panel will explore the relationships between the current COVID-19 pandemic and social, environmental, and economic justice. Panelists include Stewart Cole (English and Environmental Studies), Jeremiah Bohr (Sociology), Brad Spanbauer (Sustainability Office), and Sabrina Mueller-Spitz (Biology).


1:30-2:30 PM: The Big Slow Down: Art & Sustainability in the Time of COVID-19

Join Los Angeles based nonprofit organization RuckusRoots for a 1-hour art workshop on the connections between staying home, living sustainably, and the creative process. Learn how to make artisanal seed paper at home using recycled newspaper, scraps or old notebooks. This paper is great for writing poems, recipes or thank you notes to health care workers, and can eventually be planted to grow flowers or vegetables! 

[Materials: If you want to follow along, you will need: Recycled paper, mesh or a fine screen, picture frame, staple gun, large bowl or container, water, blender, absorbent towel or sponge, flat surface (optional: seeds). Follow-along not necessary, a step-by-step PDF will be shared at the end of the session.]


2:30-3:30 PM: Earth Day Outside: Cleaning Up Our Communities

Take a walk outside–while observing social distancing protocols and wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, of course! Bring a pair of gloves and a garbage bag. Clean up your neighborhood, or a nearby park, or whatever spot catches your fancy–and post a picture of your work on the Sustainability Institute Facebook page.

4:00-5:00 PM: Panel: Student Climate Activism in the UW System

A panel of student activists discuss their efforts to push for meaningful and coordinated action on climate change across the UW System.




Arbor Day

Ask an Arborist! Do you have tree identification and tree care questions? This is your chance to ask professionals about trees and tree care! Look for the ‘Ask an Arborist’ post on the UW Oshkosh Sustainability Facebook page on Friday April 24th! Professional landscapers, foresters, arborists and biologists will be answering your questions throughout the day!



We have curated a set of films that are available online, and will host discussions about these films on the Sustainability Office Facebook page throughout the week. You can watch the film at your leisure and then sign on and participate in or view the discussion:

A Fierce Green Fire:
(Discussion: Wednesday April 22, moderated by Shannon Davis-Foust)

(Discussion: Thursday April 23, moderated by Brad Spanbauer)

This Changes Everything:
(Discussion: Friday April 24, moderated by Stephanie Spehar)

*All discussions will take place on the UW Oshkosh Sustainability Facebook page*