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Earth Day is April 22, and I am happy to announce that the Portage Parks and Recreation Department, in partnership with Renewal Unlimited Inc. and Portage PRIDE, is again celebrating the Portage Earth Day Cleanup event.

As many of you may remember, one year ago Portage PRIDE partnered with the Portage Earth Day Cleanup as its inaugural event and displayed its first sign at Collipp-Worden park that morning. One year has added new faces to the group, additional places where Portage PRIDE has assisted with beautification and some tremendous success stories for the Portage community.

The event this year will be structured similar to last year and is scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Individual and group check-in will be at 9 a.m. at Sunset Park on the corner of West Pleasant and Sunset streets in Portage. Anyone within or around the Portage community is welcome to attend and take part in sprucing up Sunset Park, Sanborn Park and the Portage Public Library.

The city Parks Department along with a group from Renewal Unlimited Inc. will lead the charge as we clean winter debris, perform spring painting, construct a small walking trail and improve some popular public places as a symbol of support for environmental protection.

Earth Day has given the community an opportunity to work alongside today’s youth. The city of Portage, Portage School District and Columbia County Master Gardeners Association have teamed to establish a good working relationship.

The Renewal Unlimited Inc./Portage Fresh Start Program works with students who have dropped out of school for a variety of reasons. The participants are able to work toward completion of the General Education Development or High School Equivalency Diploma while obtaining employment skills, career direction and community involvement.

The Portage School District is also involved with Earth Day and Portage PRIDE with the CDS/Transition program and the National Honor Society.

The CDS/Transition students participate in volunteering with community-based programs such as Earth Day. This allows these two programs to teach life skills as well as giving back to the community.

Portage High School Principal Robin Kvalo has coordinated Honor Society students with Portage PRIDE and the Master Gardeners. The students will be working on two occasions at Pauquette Park this spring and again in the fall. Honor Society students must complete 25 hours of community service, five of which must be completed as a group.

Community involvement is so vital in Portage PRIDE’s goal of the beautification of Portage. Having support by the youth in Portage is so encouraging for the future of this ongoing project.

Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970 in the United States and spread worldwide by 1990. Every year on April 22, people across the globe collect garbage, plant trees, clean up public spaces, show movies and make for a better future for our planet.

Earth Day lends itself as a yearly reminder of the importance of environmental protection. While Earth day is officially celebrated one day a year, the lessons associated with it can be enacted on a daily basis.

I encourage anyone interested in participating to come join our cause on April 22. Whether you are able to work all day or just for a half hour, we would love to see you at the event.

I also encourage anyone who plans to work on their own projects on Earth Day to come out in the morning and participate in the kick-off festivities. Portage Mayor Bill Tierney will address the crowd and provide some inspirational words for the day. Participants must provide their own transportation, but all supplies and tools will be provided. Everyone should bring a pair of gloves and dress appropriate for the weather. Pants and a long-sleeve shirt or sweatshirt is encouraged.

Credit

The Portage PRIDE column on March 7 on the Portage Center for the Arts was submitted by Betty Kutzke., whose credit was inadvertently omitted.

Dan Kremer is parks and recreation manager for the city of Portage. For more information, email Portage PRIDE member JoAnne Genrich at jo.genrich@gmail.com

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