April 22 is Earth Day. As environmental issues have captured the public’s attention, local environmental groups have planned separate activities to celebrate the day. This year the Hopewell Valley school district seeks to unite the entire community around common goals of environmental justice and sustainability by announcing the inaugural Hopewell Valley Green Week from April 18 to 24, with a special preview day on April 17.

The district has green teams in each of its schools and a district wide green team that also includes administrators, teachers, school board members, parents, students and representatives from the Hopewell Valley Green Team and FoHVOS. In addition, the district has released a brand-new Environmental Stewardship Statement:

“The Hopewell Valley Regional School District is dedicated to being a responsible steward of the environment, both within our buildings and beyond our classrooms. We are committed to using our resources responsibly; mobilizing our students, staff and the wider community, by providing them with the knowledge and skills to envision and create an environmentally just and sustainable future.”

The statement also includes a commitment to environmental citizenship which seeks to “educate, innovate, engage, and advocate.” Green Week is a natural outgrowth of this movement.

The flagship events are two community film screenings: “The Sacrifice Zone” and Microplastic Madness. Both are followed by panel discussions featuring local conservation experts. Times are shown below.

Green Week includes classroom activities at every school. Students will be introduced to an environmental problem at the beginning of the week and tasked with helping to solve this problem by participating in a challenge. At the conclusion of the week, students will reflect on how the challenge impacted their week.

In addition, after school Green Teams will host Zoom events to help educate the community about Green issues.

Activities also include Scavenger Hunts, Kahoots, and other engaging community events throughout the week. Students will lead presentations on sustainable fashion and biomimicry. There are also evening eco bedtime stories and community book discussions.

Exciting community events take place every evening of the week. The complete schedule is online here. A sampling is shown here:

Clean Communities Clean Up Day. April 17, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. 301 Wash-Crossing Road.

Registration required to help clean up Hopewell Valley and your favorite nonprofit gets paid $8/hr for your time and you get a cool T-shirt! Sponsor: FoHVOS and Hopewell Township.

Force of Nature Hike Series. April 17, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Woosamonsa Ridge.

Registration required to join RomYoga and FoHVOS on a forest bathing hike and meditation at the new Woosamonsa Ridge Preserve. Sponsor: FoHVOS and RomYoga.

“The Sacrifice Zone”: film and panel discussion. April 18, 3 to 5 p.m. Zoom link.

Watch a half hour film that highlights efforts to break the cycle of poor communities of color serving as dumping grounds for our consumer society, followed by an expert panel discussion.

Food Systems and Climate Change. April 19, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Zoom link.

Dr. Xenia Morin, Associate Professor, New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health shares how our food systems are connected to climate change. Sponsor: Rutgers

Pollinator Friendly Home Landscapes. April 19, 8 to 9 p.m. Zoom link.

Alex Rivera discusses how adaptable plants that have outsized benefit to pollinators can be incorporated in your landscapes to support wildlife. Sponsor: MC Parks Commission.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint. April 20, 5 to 6 p.m. Zoom link.

Mary Ann Boyer, Rebecca Boden and Samantha Friborg discuss 10 ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Sponsor: Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants.

Recycling Won’t Save Us. April 20, 7 to 8 p.m. Zoom link.

Carolyn McGrath and Nick Johnson discuss about how to do a home waste audit and move towards zero waste. Sponsor: HVRSD.

Hopewell Valley Dark Skies. April 21, 8 to 9 p.m. Zoom link. Registration required.

Dr. Rex Parker, astrophotographer, discusses issues of light pollution to both humans and migrating birds. Sponsor: Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space.

Microplastic Madness: film and panel discussion. April 22, 3 to 5 p.m. Zoom link.

A film about a 5th graders from Brooklyn sparking youth-led action for a plastic free future with schools as hubs for change. Incudes an expert panel discussion.

Bird Migration. April 22, 7 to 8 p.m. Zoom link. Registration required. $5 suggested.

Tyler Christensen discusses his experiences researching migratory birds and threats they face. Sponsor: Sourland Conservancy.

Outdoor Equity Alliance Eco-Trivia Night. April 22, 8 to 9 p.m. Zoom link. $10 team registration required. Proceeds to the Outdoor Equity Alliance.

OEA Founders Aaron Watson and Lisa Wolff introduce famous Trivia night host Mr. Lewy.

Creating a Backyard Victory Garden. April 23, 4 to 5 p.m. Zoom link. Registration Required.

Anthony Bracco discusses growing food in your own garden, with time for Q&A. Sponsor: Pennington Public Library.

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The culmination of Green Week takes place on Saturday, April 24, when participation choices will be endless. FoHVOS stewardship director Mike Van Clef partners with HVRSD’s own Mark Manning on 2.5 hour guided nature hike exploring the flora and fauna and ecology of the Hopewell Valley.

If that’s too long, local celeb Hopewell Valley Naked Running Man leads a 1-hour hike through a local FoHVOS Preserve.

Hikes not your thing? Plant trees in Rosedale Park with the Mercer County Park Commission. Or join a stream cleanup with The Watershed Institute.

The Hopewell Valley Green Team invites children and families to a Scavenger Hunt using a Bingo Card highlighting items around the park. They will also be handing out Live Green Hopewell Valley! Kits containing recycling, home waste audits, saving food, anti-idling information.

After completing April 24 in-person events, everyone is invited back for the Green Week finale known as the Green Week Forum, which aims to have community-based conversation that explore solutions to deal with environmental challenges in Hopewell Valley.

The forum is set to begin with a series of short talks delivered by elementary, middle, and high school students as well as Hopewell Valley alumni working in environmental fields. A diverse panel of speakers will follow and address different conservation topics in food, social justice, climate, legislation, waste, biodiversity, and/or sustainable living. This panel discussion will be followed by solution-oriented breakout sessions. Green Week will conclude at the end of this event.

Carolyn McGrath, a teacher on the Green Week planning committee, shared: “We hope that the connections, conversations, and learning that take place during Green Week will deepen our commitment to working together towards environmentally just and sustainable solutions, and provide opportunities for continued dialogue and sustained action.”