The first Earth Day took place in 1970 in response to growing awareness of, and alarm over, the environmental crisis in the U.S., including air and water pollution that were devastating natural resources, threats to wildlife from pesticide use and habitat degradation, and the health risks from exposure to toxic substances. Rallies and demonstrations, as well as teach-ins at schools, colleges and universities—including the University of Georgia—took place across the country. Within a year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was established and Congress had passed the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts.

Despite the immense gains in environmental protection that have occurred since the first Earth Day, we are again facing an environmental crisis that is threatening human health and safety worldwide. Climate change, habitat destruction, and pollution are fueling concerns about environmental justice, the loss of biodiversity, threats to food and water security, increasing conflict driven by resource scarcity, and the spread of plant, animal and human diseases.

Earth Day 2020 is an important opportunity to celebrate and strengthen UGA’s commitment to research, teaching and service focused on healthier people, a more secure future, and stronger communities. Maintaining viable land and waterways, ensuring a dependable food supply, improving public health, finding solutions to deadly diseases, and revitalizing communities—all of these rely on protecting our environment.


Celebrating and strengthening UGA’s commitment to research, teaching, and service focused on healthier people, stronger communities, and a more secure future.

UGA Earth Day 2020 includes engaging activities throughout spring 2020 to educate and inspire action.
#Commit to… #EarthDayEveryDay


UGA Earth Day 2020 is a collective campus- and community-wide event.

If your organization is hosting a sustainability-themed event during spring 2020, on or off campus, that you would like to have included as part of UGA Earth Day 2020, you may submit it here.

If you are a UGA faculty member and would like to include one of your classes in the month-long Teach In during April 2020, please complete this form.


  • UGA Electric Transit Fleet
    • UGA will soon have the largest electric campus transit fleet in the US with a total of 33 electric buses.  The first electric buses will begin rolling on campus in January 2020.
  • Tate Cafe Consumer Compost Pilot (begins January-May)
    • UGA has been composting organic waste behind the scenes in Tate retail food areas for years, now you can join in too!  Compost bins available in Tate Cafe near The Niche Pizza Company.
  • January 8 – Panel Discussion 
    • “Tapping into Community: Craft, Culture and Innovation”
    • A Conversation with Creature Comforts, Allagash, and the Athens Wellbeing Project.
    • 4PM, UGA Studio 225 (225 W. Broad Street Athens, GA)
  • January 15 – CED Faculty Lecture Series
    • Dr. Jack Crowley, The Sustainable University Campus: Experiences from Honduras
    • 4PM, UGA Jackson Street Building, Room 123
  • January 20 – Athens MLK Day of Service 
    • Annual celebration in support of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday and commitment to service, with project sites throughout Athens.
    • Sign up to volunteer here.
  • January 21 – Odum School of Ecology Film Screening
    • “Wild Karnatka,” a documentary about wildlife and nature in southern India’s largest state.
    • 7 PM, Ecology Building Auditorium

  • January 25 – Athens Social Justice Symposium
    • 8AM-5PM, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens, 780 Timothy Road, Athens, GA
    • Annual student-organized symposium fosters dialogue and interaction between Athens area residents and organizations that are working toward sustainable social change on a local level.


  • Speak Out for Species Film Series
    • Throughout the month of February; exact dates/times TBD
  • February 6-9 – UGA Integrative Conservation Conference 
    • Connect across boundaries to create more just and innovative solutions to today’s conservation challenges.
  • February 7-8 – Georgia Organics Conference & Expo 
    • Fostering a community of farmers and eaters interested in supporting healthier foods, farms, and families
  • February 21 – UGA Red Clay Conference: Overcoming Toxic Relationships
    • Hosted by UGA Environmental Law Association
    • Keynote Speaker: Lois Gibbs, lead activist at Love Canal who later founded the Citizens Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste
  • February 21-23 – Art Education and Social Justice Symposium 2020
    • All Day, Lamar Dodd School of Art
    • The encounter will focus on the guiding question: How are art and education inspiring, affecting, and promoting social change?
  • February 29 – ACC Green Life Expo and Awards 
    • 10AM-3PM, followed by awards ceremony 5-6PM, at State Botanical Garden of Georgia
    • Designed to provide inspiration and the tools needed to help our community members become more sustainable in our everyday lives


  • Exhibition, Philip Juras: The Art of Conservation
    • UGA College of Environment and Design, Circle Gallery (March 4 – April 30)
  • Aldo in Athens – Community Events and Activities
    • March 5 – Restoration Seed Bombs, Sandy Creek Nature Center/Dudley Park, 1:30 PM
    • March 7 – Managed forest tour, Sandy Creek Nature Center, 10 AM
    • March 8 – Wildflower Walk led by Kate , Memorial Park Birchmore Trail, 2 PM
    • March 11 – Aldo on Campus guided walk, North Campus, led by Dorinda Dallmeyer, 1 PM
    • March 12 – Aldo on Campus guided walk, South Campus, led by Dorinda Dallmeyer, 1 PM
    • March 19 – Screening of “Greenfire,” ACC Library, time TBD
    • March 20 – Walk and talk about conservation easements led by Walt Cook, Tallassee Forest, time TBD
    • March 21 – Bird Walk, State Botanical Garden, 8 AM
    • March 21 – Invasive species removal, Brooklyn Cemetery, 10-12 AM
    • March 22 – Wildflower walk led by Linda Chafin, State Botanical Garden, 3 PM
    • March 27 – A Sand County Almanac reading and talk by Drew Lanham, ACC Library, time TBD (evening)
    • March 28 – Bird walk led by Drew Lanham, location and time TBD
    • March 28 – Drew Lanham meets with students at West Broad Garden (or other location), time TBD
  • March 25 – Warnell Lecture
    • Dr. Carolyn Finney, Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship between African Americans to the Great Outdoors
  • March 31 – Outdoor Rec & Sustainability Lecture
    • David Hutchinson & Shari Galiardi, Freedom in a Can: Finding Sustainability in 72 Square Feet
    • An engaging presentation on charting your own career course while engaging with the outdoors


  • Interdisciplinary Sustainability “Teach In” (throughout April)
  • Exhibition, Sarah Cameron Sunde: A Durational Performance with the Sea (April 4 – September 6)
    • Georgia Museum of Art
    • A time-based series of performances and video art works spanning seven years and six continents.
  • April 2 – UGA Press Film Screening and Discussion: Cultivating the Wild
    • Screening of new documentary about William Bartram
    • Reception and discussion with producers Sam Auerbach and Dorinda Dallmeyer and two of the “modern day Bartrams” profiled in the film, Janisse Ray and Philip Juras
  • April 6-12 – National Public Health Week
  • April 7 – Odum School of Ecology Odum Lecture
    • JoAnn Burkholder, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Applied Ecology and Director of the Center for Applied Aquatic Ecology at North Carolina State University
  • River Rendezvous (date TBD)
    • Community education and monitoring event sponsored by the Upper Oconee Watershed Network (UOWN)
  • Athens Start-Up Week
    • April 13 – Idea Accelerator Day 
    • April 14 – Entrepreneurship Speaker Series Event 
    • April 16 – UGA Next Top Entrepreneur 
    • April 17 – Life’s a Pitch Competition (sustainability-themed challenge and student pitch competition)
  • April 16 – Willson Center for Humanities and Arts Global Georgia Initiative / Odum Environmental Ethics Lecture
    • Pulitzer Prize-winning environmental historian Jack Davis 
  • April 18 – UGA G-Day Game 
    • Solar-powered Sanford Stadium and sustainability-themed programming at the intra-squad game where Red vs Black = Green!
  • April 20-24 – UGA Giving Week
  • UGArden SxSM (South by S. Milledge; date TBD)
    • Celebration of music, food, and community at UGArden
  • April 21 – Yoga Under the Stars 
    • 8PM in UGA Myers Quad
    • Outdor evening yoga, free to all
  • April 22 – UGA Earth Day 2020 – Powered by the Sun
    • To celebrate Earth Day, the entire main campus will be powered by the sun in partnership with Georgia Power
  • April 22 – UGA Earth Day 2020 Fair 
    • 10AM-1PM, Tate Plaza and North Lawn
    • Celebration of campus and community initiatives to advance sustainability at UGA and in the Athens area
  • April 22 – Georgia Museum of Natural History Blum Lecture
    • Lynn Faust, author of the UGA Press book “Fireflies, Glow-worms, and Lightning Bugs”

  • April 22 – Georgia Review Annual Earth Day Lecture
    • Aimee Nezhukumatathil
    • 7PM, State Botanical Garden Chapel
  • April 24 – Campus Arboretum Tree Walk
    • 10AM, starting at the UGA Arch
    • Stroll through North Campus and learn the stories behind its beautiful trees
  • April 24 – Bike Athens Joy Ride 
    • Casual 90-minute sustainability-themed group bike ride, finishing with a social gathering downtown
  • April 29 – Sustainable UGA Spring 2020 Semester in Review 
    • 11AM-1PM at UGA Special Collections Library
    • Celebration of student initiatives to enhance sustainability and quality of life on campus and in the local community


Commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the first Earth Day

Inspired by witnessing the environmental disaster caused by a massive oil spill off Santa Barbara, Calif., in 1969, Senator Gaylord Nelson conceived Earth Day as a way to harness growing public consciousness about pollution to put environmental protection on the national political agenda. UGA students and faculty participated by hosting a university-wide day of teach-ins.

Educate the UGA community about sustainability challenges and solutions

Schools and colleges across campus will hold talks and workshops by faculty, alumni experts, and invited speakers with particular relevance to their own disciplinary areas. During the month of April, faculty from multiple disciplines will open academic classes to the public as an informal month-long “teach-in” on current sustainability issues.

Promote civic engagement and action to address sustainability and environmental issues

Schools, colleges, and community partners will bring awareness to grand challenges with particular relevance to UGA and the Athens community, including environmental justice, sustainable food systems, the impacts of climate change, and more.

Provide tangible opportunities to address global challenges locally

In conjunction with local government and community partners, Earth Day 2020 includes hands-on volunteer opportunities to address global challenges through local solutions.