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Spring in Southwest Missouri is unpredictable. It’s cold one day, warm the next, with thunderstorms rolling through one evening and freeze warnings the following night. This April seems colder than normal with lots of rain. So when abundant sunshine and warm temps showed up on Earth Day, I knew I wanted to celebrate by getting outside.
As I pondered possibilities the thought popped into my mind: “Earth Day Scavenger Hunt”. Yes! I loved the idea.
On my phone I quickly listed ten items to hunt for in the Joplin, Missouri area.
Check out the results!
What’s Earth Day?
Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin launched the first Earth Day April 22, 1970. Growing concerns about the environment, spurred by the alarming impact of pesticides, inspired 20 million Americans to participate in rallies and clean up campaigns across the US.
That first Earth Day birthed the environmental movement and led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. Today Earth Day is celebrated each year by an estimated 1 billion people around the world.
My Earth Day Scavenger Hunt List
In a scavenger hunt, the player or players look for a specific list of items. I created such hunts for my kids when they were young, often including rhyming clues to help them find the item.
I created the Earth Day scavenger hunt with the dual purpose of getting me outdoors and going on an adventure in my hometown of Joplin.
Here’s the list I came up with.
- a river
- a park
- spring wildflowers
- a garden center
- eco-friendly item or items
- a tree to hug
- recycling bins
- a bee
- someplace outdoors to meditate for five minutes and send love and positive energy around the earth
- trash to pick up and properly dispose of
I found all of the items on the list, although not in the order listed. And one item proved surprisingly difficult to locate. I took a photo of each of my finds, to document the hunt.
Find a River
I considered driving to Grand Falls to check off this item. However, with heavy rains yesterday morning I knew the rivers were at flood level. The chert formations around Grand Falls get very slick after a rain so instead I drove south of Joplin to another section of Shoal Creek.
The rain swollen river flowed swiftly beneath the old walking bridge, discolored by the dirt and silt stirred up by the churning water. I found it beautiful to behold, anyway.
Find a Park
Joplin offers many parks, from wooded land with walking trails to memorial spaces to playgrounds for children.
I deliberately chose a small park in my neighborhood, Garvin Park. The fondness I feel for this green space with benches, a pavilion, playground equipment, a little stone bridge and a huge sculpture comes from the days of walking there with my kids and later my grandkids.
And I’ve always adored that fantastic sculpture of irises!
Find Spring Wildflowers
The wild phlox caught my eye as I walked toward the bridge over Shoal Creek. I passed it by, thinking I’d find a prettier patch of flowers later in the day. When I walked back by the phlox, I noticed how fiercely it grew in a rocky inhospitable area.
Its beauty and tenacity touched me. And I considered my search for spring wildflowers over.
Visit a Garden Center
This item was such an easy one for me that I probably should have chosen something more difficult to put on the list! Garden centers are one of my happy places.
While Joplin has several places to purchase plants, I chose Lowe’s Garden Center, primarily because those exact words hang above the entrance to the spacious outdoor area.
Although I didn’t buy any plants today, I will very soon. I did enjoy a stroll among the wide variety of annuals, shrubs, trees and perennials.
Hug a Tree
As I drove and walked around Joplin, I considered a variety of trees to hug. Plus I have a relationship with Oak Tree, standing tall in Wildcat Park. It’s been a while since I hugged that rugged, ancient tree.
Ultimately, the tree I chose to hug stands in my own front yard. Redbud Tree barely survived the 2011 tornado that ravaged much of southern Joplin. The trunk is twisted and many branches bear scars, witness to the powerful storm that tore the other redbud tree from the ground and left this one broken.
Every winter, more branches die and need trimmed back. Every spring, I feel concern that it’s Redbud’s last one. This tree is so brave, so determined to survive. It budded out this month with the tree’s characteristic purple-pink flowers.
After arriving home, I wrapped my arms around Redbud, pressed my face against rough bark, and sent love and healing energy to the tree.
Find Eco-friendly Items
Leaving the house for this adventure, I realized I carried the eco-friendly items I sought.
After improving my own health and learning to take care of me to the best of my ability, I discovered that my desire to care for the planet increased as well.
Since embracing a plant based lifestyle, I’ve worked to lessen my carbon footprint while also adopting ecological practices. The health of the planet and our childrens’ and grandchildrens’ futures depend on how we care for the planet…or don’t.
I’ve steadily reduced plastic use and shifted in many other ways. For this adventure, I carried water in a metal container and apple slices in a small reusable tub.
Find a Bee
The bee could easily serve as the poster child for Earth Day. As pollinators, bees are an important part of agriculture. More than a third of all crops require insect pollination. Lose the bees, and we lose vital crops that range from nuts to berries to vegetables.
And we are losing the bees. The number of hives in the US decreased from 6 million in the 1940s to 2.5 million today.
We can help by planting bee friendly plants and flowers in our yards and gardens. I include bee balm, lemon balm, catmint, lavender and a host of flowering plants in my garden, to attract and feed the bees. (Learn how to create a bee garden HERE.)
With the colder than normal month and all the rain, I wondered if I’d find an active bee today. When I opened my eyes, after a five minute meditation, the first thing I saw was a fat bumble bee, flitting from flower to flower in my garden. It’s the only bee I saw today, however I’m encouraged by that one’s early arrival.
Find a Recycling Bin
Another item that I thought might prove difficult to find, I stumbled on this one at my first stop. The city wisely placed these containers on the bridge over Shoal Creek. When I walked to the bridge to take a photo of the river, there stood recycling bins!
I’m glad to know the bins are there. Recycling is a wonderful way to prevent pollution, reduce the need for new raw materials, save energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.
Meditate Outdoors for Five Minutes
Every place I visited today, I looked for a place to sit quietly for five minutes and meditate. The beautiful day drew many people outdoors, however. I couldn’t find a suitable place to sit….until I returned home.
My backyard garden contains a meditation area. And today it perfectly served as my peaceful spot for a time of sending positive, powerful energy around the earth.
As I mentioned above, I saw the bee immediately after completing my brief meditation. I’m glad I chose my own backyard for this experience.
Pick Up Trash and Properly Dispose of It
Surprisingly, this was the last item to check off of my list. I carried a container with me as I walked in different areas around Joplin, ready to pick up trash. Except…I couldn’t find any!
Southwest Missouri has experienced strong winds…with gusts up to 45 MPH…for days. I think those strong winds blew all the trash away! It’s a good thing or a bad thing, depending on where those bits of plastic and paper eventually end up.
Finally, at 7:00 this evening, I walked around my own house, looking for wayward pieces of debris. I found a small amount between my house and the neighbor’s house, trapped against the foundations. At last, I filled my container and emptied it into a large trash bin in the alleyway.
An Earth Day Scavenger Hunt that You Can Do Any Day!
I loved celebrating Earth Day by doing a scavenger hunt. And the truth is, I can do this activity any day. Or you can. Additionally, take any of the items on the list and turn it into a stand alone activity.
Pick up trash in your neighborhood. Appreciate a river near you. Watch for bees and create a garden for them. Use eco-friendly items daily. Check out this post on my other blog, for more Earth Day activities that you can do every day. May we all become guardians of the earth.
How did you spend Earth Day? What activities or celebrations did you participate in?
Check out these Earth Day finds from Amazon:
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6 Replies to “Earth Day Scavenger Hunt”
I love this idea! I’m in the DC area, and it has been colder and windier this April here. But I may use your scavenger hunt for the next nice day here!
I love your list. I would add a butterfly to our list. We spent Earth Day picking up trash at a lake beach where we were visiting.
I love this Earth Day scavenger hunt! Actually, it would be great for every day.
What a fun way to celebrate Earth Day!
I love this idea! Next year, Ill have to borrow this idea and do it with my granddaughter!
Who doesn’t LOVE a good scavenger hunt! Great idea!