The “founder” of Earth Day was Senator Gaylord Nelson, a junior senator from Wisconsin, who was inspired to act after a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara in 1969, California. The first observance of Earth Day was April 22, 1970. Organizers chose April 22 as the official date because they wanted to maximize student participation. To achieve this, they chose a date that fell between Spring Break and Final Exams.
Denis Hayes, a young activist, organized campus teach-ins to reach as many students as possible. Realizing that Earth Day had the potential to inspire all Americans, Hayes built a staff of 85 members to promote events on a national scale.
By the end of 1970, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was created, in addition to environmental protection laws such as: the National Environmental Education Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Clean Air Act. Following this, Congress passed the Endangered Species Act and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.
In 1990, Earth Day went global! More than 200 million people in 141 countries participated in this momentous day.
Today, Earth Day is widely recognized as the largest secular observance in the world.
To find out more about Earth Day and how you can get involved, check out EARTHDAY.ORG.
April 24, 1970 edition of VMI Cadet article from page 2 called "Earth Day Praised - Many Participate" - from the VMI Archives!
Earth Day Virginia
Earth Day & Arbor Day Events in Virginia