The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy says: Take the Earth Day Challenge

— From the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy

The boardwalk at the 43-acre Mosher Marsh Preserve in the town Amsterdam. The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy is challenging people to safely get outside this month in celebration of Earth Day. 

ALBANY COUNTY — Social media challenges have run the gamut from helping to fund breakthrough scientific research — the “Ice Bucket Challenge” — to helping cull the herd through social Darwinism — the “Tide Pod Challenge.”

Now, the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy is asking the community to take the 2020 Earth Day Challenge: “To get outside and pick up trash at a favorite preserve, outdoor space, or along the frontage of one’s yard.”

Earth Day is on April 22; the 2020 Earth Day Challenge takes place from April 1 to April 30. The first Earth Day was held in 1970, the brainchild of Gaylord Nelson, a Wisconsin Senator, who came up with the idea of “national teach-in on the environment” in the wake of an oil spill off the coast of California in 1969.

Carrie Stickan, the communications and outreach coordinator for the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, said that a normal conservancy Earth Day event would be a single-day affair at one of the conservancy’s 18 preserves, but this year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, that couldn’t happen.

The conservancy still wanted to do something that allowed a lot of people to participate while still maintaining social-distancing guidelines, Stickan said, and so, the decision was made to spread out Earth Day for the entire month of April and let people participate on their own. 

Asked if she was worried about asking people to go outside right now, Stickan said that the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy was constantly monitoring guidelines to make sure it was OK to encourage people to go to conservancy’s preserves. 

People can gather at the conservancy’s spaces as long as they stay six feet from each other. The conservancy is asking that, if people show up at one of the preserve’s parking lots and a crowd is forming, that they wait until the crowd dissipates or try to visit another preserve, Stickan said.

Asked about a goal for the 2020 Earth Day Challenge — number of participants, miles walked, pounds of trash picked up — Stickan said at previous single-day Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy Earth Day events, somewhere between 40 and 60 volunteers show up. 

If they can get those numbers with the 2020 Earth Day Challenge, she said, “that would be great — but we are hoping to exceed that,” in part because the conservancy is spreading out the challenge over the entire month of April rather than committing to a single day. 

So, there’s no single goal in terms of people participating, miles walked, pounds of trash picked up, she said.

After the winter, she said, there is a lot of roadside trash at the preserves, and stewards and conservancy staff have been doing some clean-up but there is plenty more that needs to be done. The clean up doesn’t even have to be at a conservancy preserve, Stickan stressed; it can be at a person’s own front yard.

It’s important just to get outside; even if it’s just for 15 minutes, it can change your day — there is both a physical and mental health benefit to being outside, she said.

 More people are out on the conservancy’s preserves than usual, she said, and staff and volunteers have reported that everyone is being respectful and keeping their distance. With 18 preserves and 36 miles of trails, she said, there’s plenty of room to spread out.

And for those people who might not feel comfortable venturing into public spaces, Stickan said, the conservancy will soon be starting a virtual hiking series. 

The idea came about because the conservancy began to cancel a lot of its events, she said. So instead of people going onto the conservancy’s website and seeing disappointing news — cancellations and postponements — they would be met with an activity of sorts. 

Stickan said she reached out to some of the conservancy’s hike leaders and asked if they had any content that they could share — videos, for example. One woman who does forest therapy hikes provided the conservancy with audio clips, Stickan said. 

The virtual hiking series will be rolling out in the next few days.

Stickan said one thing the conservancy really wants to stress is the collective impact of the 2020 Earth Day Challenge so she asks that people who do participate send their photos to

The photos will help the conservancy promote the challenge throughout the month of April and also heighten the community-wide impact, she said, concluding, “Even though we are not standing shoulder to shoulder, working at an event, we can still all be a part of something together.”

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