As a global initiative, Earth Day started on April 22, 1970. Since then, the enterprise has grown from a single day to weeks of special projects dedicated to cleaning up the environment and spreading the word about how to live a greener life. One day is simply not enough to contain all of the events and activities planned around the Pittsburgh area.
1. Pittsburgh Botanic Garden
The 460-acre Pittsburgh Botanic Garden continues to grow and develop its woodlands, display gardens and exhibits.
For a special Earth Day event on April 21, the Botanic Garden welcomes famed horticulturist Kelly D. Norris for a lecture, lunch and book signing. Based on his latest book, “New Naturalism: Designing and Planting a Resilient, Ecologically Vibrant Home Garden,” the talk will follow group tours of the garden. Registration is $75.
Norris will also take part in a panel discussion on Earth Day (April 22) as part of Conservation & Cocktails, which serves up light bites and cocktails along with a look at issues surrounding conservation and climate change. Registration is $70.
The month is filled with other events and activities that celebrate nature. Ashley Cecil’s nature-inspired exhibit, Now You See Me, opens with a reception on Friday, April 8. Registration is $10, and kids are free. A Botany Walk & Talk event on April 14 is led by Emmy Award-winning producer, television host and garden writer Doug Oster and Pittsburgh Botanic Garden Executive Director Keith S. Kaiser. The $45 registration fee includes lunch and all-day admission. Experience the calm of Forest Bathing in the woodlands under the guidance of a certified forest therapy guide on April 13 and 17. Registration is $45. Join a guided tour of the trees in the garden on April 30 with a $15 registration.
Programming for kids includes Seedlings: Signs of Spring running on Wednesdays throughout the month. And Young Artists in the Garden launches for the season on April 23. The children’s sessions are free with garden admission.
2. Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
At Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, every day is Earth Day. The month is filled with free special programming for grownups, kids and family groups. Try your hand at Birding Pittsburgh’s Parks under the guidance of a naturalist educator on April 11. Take a Full Moon Hike high above the city at Emerald View Park on April 13. The Spring Wildflower Hike and Wild Edibles Hike are planned for April 16 in Frick Park. Look for neighborhood parks for family-friendly hikes, children’s activities and community park cleanups. Weekly Tree Hugger Yoga and Forest Bathing events take place at various locations throughout the city, too.
Don’t miss the Earth Day Concert festivities on April 24 on the lawn of the Frick Environmental Center. Live music from local artists will be powered by solar energy from ZeroFossil.
3. The Andy Warhol Museum and Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Founder and co-host of the Peabody Award-winning “Radiolab,” Jad Abumrad returns to Pittsburgh for an insightful Earth Day Evening on April 23 at Carnegie Lecture Hall in Oakland. Nicole Heller, associate curator of Anthropocene Studies at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, will lead the conversation with Abumrad, looking at his creative process and how his storytelling blends science, art and humanities. Tickets are $15 ($10 for students).
4. The National Aviary
The Earth Day Celebration at the National Aviary on April 23 is packed with a full schedule of activities to help visitors of all ages connect with nature. Little kids will enjoy a reading of “Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt” by Kate Messner. The Be Green Scavenger Hunt will guide kids to ways they can be green at home and protect bird habitats. The Condor Talk will delve into the critical role of condors and vultures in keeping ecosystems healthy. Take home a craft kit, too, that delivers lessons on recycling. All of the fun and games are included with general admission ($14.95 for kids, $16.95 for seniors and $17.95 for adults). Children younger than 2 are free.
5. Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Phipps is all about conservation and sustainability, from its Café Phipps and gardening and landscape classes to its work in Green Innovation research and at-home resources.
Visitors to the Center for Sustainable Landscapes are invited to contemplate the environmental issues set forth in the Planets Earth exhibit. Beyond the inspirational message, the exhibit space is worth checking out. Sustainable materials include a Mohawk Lichen carpet, the first floor covering to earn a Living Product Challenge Petal Certification.
The documentary “Call of the Forest,” April’s selection in Phipps’ Virtual Environmental Film Series, follows renowned scientist, conservationist and author Diana Beresford-Kroeger to some of the most beautiful forests in the northern hemisphere. Through the fascinating stories of these ancient forests, she delves into the irreplaceable roles that trees play in protecting the planet. Registration is free for the Zoom screening on April 15.
6. Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
The Pittsburgh Zoo steps up with Wild Earth Day, included with admission on April 22. Stop by the Mobile Aquaponics Lab presented by the Commonwealth Charter Academy. Tree Pittsburgh will offer free ready-to-plant saplings to Allegheny County residents. Bring a cell phone to recycle and you might win tickets to the zoo.
For an additional $12, you can upgrade your experience with totally wild activities. You’ll get the full schedule to observe feedings, meet education ambassador animals, learn from discovery stations and enjoy exclusive shows. Registration is required.
It costs nothing to participate in the zoo’s Save the Planet Contest, which runs through April 30. It’s easy: Share a photo of your effort to #SaveThePlanet to @pghzoo on social media. The winner of four tickets to the zoo will be selected at random and notified on May 2.
7. Pittsburgh Earth Day
Pittsburgh Earth Day was created with the mission to spread the news on improvements in innovation and technology surrounding sustainability. Find tips on earth-friendly ways to work, play and eat in the Green Living Guide. Sign up for the Green Voice weekly newsletter and receive news on green events, healthy eating and organic gardening.
In-person events this month include the Ecolution Fashion Gala in the Carnegie Museum Hall Foyer on April 13. Inspired by the theme, Earth Matters Now, curator Richard Parsakian invited designers to create wearable fashion with recycled and organic materials. VIP tickets are sold out, but general admission tickets are available.
On April 22, head Downtown for Go Green at Market Square, a free festival of live music, eco-friendly activity booths and an educational area where green businesses will share their stories.
Join Pittsburgh leaders at the Sustainable Business Breakfast in the Fairmont Hotel on April 29. A panel of industry experts will discuss the role businesses play in sustainability innovation. Registration is free.
8. Allegheny County Parks
Park Rangers are looking for volunteers for Earth Day Cleanups and Service Days at Deer Lakes Park, South Park and North Park on April 23. Registration is required.
Hit the Trail with Park Rangers on April 24 for a two-mile scenic hike through Hartwood Acres. Or head to White Oak Park for a guided hike on April 30.
Nature lovers ages 10 and older can take part in the Latodami City Nature Challenge in North Park on April 29 and April 30. Participants need a smartphone to download the free iNaturalist app. You’ll join a park naturalist on a hike and make nature observations as you go.
All of these sessions are free, but registration is required. Watch for many more ways to connect with nature through the Allegheny County Parks activity search page.
9. Pennsylvania State Parks
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources offers year-round activities to commune with nature and make the most of our state parks.
Moraine State Park and McConnells Mill State Park invite those interested in trail work, living history and native plants to the Volunteer Kickoff Meeting on April 16. New and returning volunteers will review highlights of last year’s efforts and plans for the coming season. Earth Day Litter Pickup invites park lovers to help clean up Raccoon Lake’s shoreline on April 22.
Families can follow the Jennings Original Storybook Trail “Welcome to My Prairie” event daily from April 23-May 8. The self-guided trail leads families through outdoor educational activities that explore the unique prairie habitat at the Jennings Environmental Education Center. The Storybook Trail is free, with no registration required.
Join the Wild About Wildflowers Hike at Raccoon State Park on April 9, April 10, April 16 and April 23 to appreciate spring’s blooming wildflowers. No registration is required for these free events.
10. Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures
Robin Wall Kimmerer takes the Carnegie Music Hall stage on April 11 as part of Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures’ Ten Evenings series. A trained botanist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Kimmerer considers plants and animals to be our oldest teachers. During her visit, she will discuss ideas from her book, “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plants.” Tickets are $15 for in-person and virtual attendance and $10 for students.
11. Tree Pittsburgh
As an environmental nonprofit organization, Tree Pittsburgh is dedicated to restoring and protecting our urban forests. Like-minded folks can visit the campus in upper Lawrenceville for a 30-minute behind-the-scenes tour. Your visit will include a stop at the Heritage Nursery operation and greenhouse. Registration is free. Check the calendar for dates.
Join staff and volunteers on Saturday, April 9, to plant trees on Hazelwood Greenway.
Tree-loving volunteers are needed during transplant season to move seedlings into larger containers. Even those without the greenest thumbs can pick up a few transplanting techniques and learn about various tree species. Volunteer Heritage Nursery sessions are planned on various Wednesdays and Saturdays in April. Check the calendar for specific dates and registration.
For more things to do in April, check out 10 April events not to miss in Pittsburgh, from a Beer Barge to a Car Bazaar.