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Earth Day celebrates environmental stewardship

Earth Day is celebrated with events held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Started in 1970, Earth Day is coordinated globally on the Earth Day Network and is celebrated in more than 193 countries.

Rogue Valley Earth Day will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 23, outdoors at ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum, 1500 E. Main St., Ashland. Admission to the event is free.

This year's theme is "Rise to the Challenge," and the venue will offer a variety of stage acts that advocate change, local culture and environmental stewardship.

The festivities open with a short performance by Southern Oregon Scottish Bagpipe Band, followed at 11:20 a.m. by Earth Day Shout Outs. New to Rogue Valley Earth Day, the Shout Outs feature representatives from local nonprofit organizations and green businesses who will each take the stage for about five minutes to inform visitors of actions that can be taken to make real and positive changes to benefit the local and global environment.

Science students from North Medford High School, astronomy teacher Robert Black, flight specialist Sean Curry, high-tech fabricator Steve Skoog, retired data analyst Colin White and photographer John Bunyan will launch a weather balloon to 100,000 feet for the annual Global Space Balloon Challenge. This launch is part of a two-year NASA project to engage students in science and to photograph the full eclipse of the sun in Oregon in August 2017.

Singers from Rogue World Choristers — a children's choir — will perform songs from various world folk traditions at noon; Japanese drummers Ashland Taiko will perform at 12:45 p.m.; local dance troupe Ballet Folklorico Ritmo Alegre will present folk dances from a mix of Mexican traditions, including the rhythmic mariachi, at 1:30 p.m. The troupe is made up of young and adult dancers committed to promoting cultural pride and awareness.

Gymnasts from Flipside Studio Tumbling Arts will deliver action-packed jumping, flipping and kicking at 2 p.m., look for another Shout Out at 2:15, then students from Helman Dragon Choir at 2:50. Creekside Strings — a group of fiddlers ranging in age from 4 to 16 — will perform a set of spontaneous tunes at 3:15.

More than five dozen exhibits will showcase sustainable actions, products and services for home, school, work and play, including electric vehicles and bikes, solar energy programs, sustainable agriculture and green building options. There will be information about regional restoration projects, gardening and composting techniques, volunteer opportunities and more.

Kids activities at this family-friendly festival include a colorful, 30-foot, salmon-shaped storytelling tent. Kids can step inside, dress in costumes and hear tales of migrating salmon and forest animals. Kid Zone gives kids an outlet to explore their creative sides with recycled crafts, a cardboard village and face painting. Back this year are baby goats from Willow-Witt Ranch, FullMoon hula hoops and Rhythms of the Soul community percussion — three event favorites enjoyed by kids of all ages. Boys & Girls Club of Talent will lead games on ScienceWorks' open field.

Wholesome food and beverages from local food vendors will be available, including entrees, sandwiches and salads from food truck Peruvian Point, sandwiches from Little Shop of Bagels, Katrina’s tamales and cookies from Auntie Mama’s. Standing Stone Brewing Co. will offer sustainably handcrafted beers on tap.

Learn more online at roguevalleyearthday.net or by calling 541-482-6767.

Young dancers from Ballet Folklorico Ritmo Alegre will be among the highlights of Rogue Valley Earth Day. Photo courtesy of Paige Prewett