Laura Stern, Lous Vitullo and Melissa Lumkes hold more than 500 cypress tree seedlings as part of the Willard School Earth Day Celebration in River Forest.
Forest Leaves --April 16, 1990.

Green for 40 Years

The villages of Oak Park and River Forest were in on the ground floor of the modern environmental movement, with local schools marking the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970 with litter cleanups, planting trees, and learning about the dangers of DDT. 

 
"Schools mark Earth Day" is a story that appeared in the Oak Leaves, April 22, 1970, and the excerpts below document the commitment of village students and teachers to building environmental awareness. 

"Today is Earth Day, an environmental teach-in day proposed by Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson and supported by nearly every institution on a nation-wide basis. 

Oak Park-River Forest High School students have extended the teach-in day into a week-long seminar on pollution....

Students in all 10 Oak Park elementary schools will also observe Earth Day in different ways.  Hatch seventh and eighth graders will clean and clear tree damage in the LeMoyne Parkway and then return to school for a 2 p.m. program sponsored by Commonwealth Edison.  Donald Duck will explain the effects on littering in the film "the Litter Bug" to grades K-3 and "Lassie's Litter Bit" will be shown to the intermediate grades.

Speakers from the junior high school classes will go to Beye School rooms to talke about school clean up and films at three grade levels will be shown.  Buttons, litter bags and pledge cards, furnished by the Village Beautification Commission, will be given to all pupils.

A "LITTER ALERT" will be broadcast at Emerson school and students will be competing to see how much trash and litter can be gathered around the school....

Irving School students are planning "Spirit Week" for the first week in May to free buildings homes and grounds of litter....

Land usage is being studied at Mann School and group assemblies and projects are geared to increase awareness of neighborhood pollutions and their solutions....

It's Keep American Beautiful Week at Longfellow School, which will also have a tree planting ceremony on Arbor Day.  Holmes is having a litter poster campaign, and Lincoln School teachers are planning individual programs for their classes to emphasize the problems related to pollution."