Started in 1970 by Governor Deane C. Davis, Green Up Vermont is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote the stewardship of the state’s natural landscape and waterways and raise public awareness about a litter-free environment, culminating with a statewide clean-up event called Green Up Day. Always the first Saturday in May, Green Up Day is a statewide initiative where volunteers clean up litter from roadsides and waterways. Green Up Vermont also offers an educational component for grades K-12 with free activity booklets and other materials and activities that build their civic engagement and pride for clean environments.
In 2020, Vermonters were unwilling to let go of the 50-year-old springtime tradition that spruces up communities, even during a global pandemic. It wasn’t the same Green Up Day with community celebrations and barbeques, but volunteers throughout Vermont wanted to do their part for their environment. Nearly 14,000 volunteers from 244 towns used innovation and ingenuity to get the job of cleaning over 241 tons of trash and 9,000 tires from the roads. The Green Scuba Team was formed for the first-time last year to clean the depths of Lake Champlain.
Now it’s a new spring and excitement is already growing for Green Up Day 2021, which will be held on May 1st with all safety protocols in place.
A big part of Green Up Day is the art contest. There were record numbers of submissions from students all over Vermont. The 2021 overall poster art winner is Jiya Sekar, a third grader from Union Elementary in Montpelier. Her art will be used on the poster and marketing materials promoting the 51st Green Up Day. Her artwork completely captures a happy and clean landscape that inspires us to keep Greening Up.
In addition to the long-standing poster art and writing contests, Green Up has expanded to offer a jingle contest, a video contest, and a graphic arts contest to reach an array of talent in our youth and get more students to participate on Green Up Day and in community volunteerism. Kate Alberghini, Executive Director of Green Up Vermont said, “We love encouraging our youth to get involved, and we can’t wait to share the winners of the other categories! There are some really talented kids here in Vermont, focusing on sending some really great messages about the importance of Green Up Day.”
Two other initiatives are being implemented this year. One is the Green Up Vermont Mentor program where high school students are paired with volunteer town coordinators in leadership roles to help produce Green Up Day in their towns. The second initiative is the Green Up Vermont Stewardship Partner Program where the Green Up Vermont organization helps various entities like parks, towns and individuals rally volunteers for special pick-up programs year-round as well as a Fall Green Up 2.0.
To learn about the contests, how to get involved with Green Up Vermont, or make a donation, go to www.greenupvermont.org. Green Up supplies will be distributed to towns in early April. Be sure to mark your calendars for the 51st Green Up Day on May 1st.