Virginia Living Museum provides “Virtual Earth Day” during coronavirus pandemic

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With the 50th anniversary of Earth Day Wednesday, educational and environmental groups are moving activities online so people can still celebrate during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We hope it won’t get overshadowed by the pandemic,” said Judy Triska, marketing director for the Virginia Living Museum. “The Virginia Living Museum believes that this is something we need to remember probably more than ever now that people realize how just a walk outside on a beautiful day is such a valued and precious thing.”

Earth Day first started in April 1970 when Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin created it as a way to force environmental issues onto the national agenda, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. As a result, 20 million Americans demonstrated in cities across the nation which caused Congress to form the Environmental Protection Agency.

Since then, each year people have used the nationally recognized holiday to promote matters of conservation and environmental protection.

A number of local organizations in Hampton Roads and the Peninsula such as the Virginia Living Museum have provided annual programs and events to commemorate the day.

Triska said while the museum has conservation and educational programs throughout the year, the week leading up to Earth Day usually has a number of extra events to celebrate. But this year, the coronavirus has caused those events to be moved to online platforms. 

“We’re calling it ‘Virtual Earth Day,’” she said. “So we’ve been trying to adapt and make it as virtual as we can and we’ve just been trying to apply some of the things we would’ve done on a full week of Earth celebrations.”

Starting last Thursday, the museum held various events each day on what they’re calling “QuaranStream,” which are live videos streamed through Facebook. The events have included a Frog Watch program, a Red Wolf species survival program and a live video on feeding sharks.

On Wednesday, participants can take part in the last two activities for the week:

  • 11 a.m. QuaranStream Shark Feeding Earth Day Special, on Facebook Live
  • 2:30 p.m. Quaranstream Otter Play Time Earth Day Special, on Facebook Live

Virtual Earth Day also includes activities such as a Earth Day coloring page and a poetry presentation as part of the Nevermore Dinosaur poetry project.

“Were really trying to have our efforts heighten Earth Day so it won’t be overshadowed,” Triska said. “We want to bring awareness to everyone and engage in things as good citizens that help to preserve and sustain our natural environment.”

The Virginia Living Museum also has regular virtual programs running that help with educational efforts in the area. Triska said the museum now has a fully virtual natural curriculum online through their website and social media. From 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day, students can access the following content:

  • 8 a.m., Diet of the Day, where students can learn about what animals eat
  • 10 a.m., Awesome Animal Ambassadors, where students can interact with a museum ambassador animal presented by staff
  • 11 a.m., Virginia Living Museum Live Facebook, where students can experience different animals in the museum while it’s closed
  • Noon, Nature at Noon, where students can learn about nature in their own backyard
  • 2:30 p.m., Virginia Living Museum Live Facebook, where students can see even more of the museum 
  • 4 p.m., Virginia Living Museum Mysteries, where students identify photos of animals and insects
  • 6 p.m., Virginia Skies, where students can stargaze with tips from the museum
  • 8 p.m., Night Night Nature, where students age five and under can experience a bedtime story

Triska said both the educational efforts and the Earth Day events are part of the museum’s mission to spread conservation and awareness, which are especially important for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. 

“It’s a big part of why we exist,” she said. “Working to preserve all native species and preserve Mother Earth. So the day is usually big for us and it’s the 50th anniversary, so it’s more important than ever.”

For more information, visit the Virginia Living Museum online.

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