Longwood University’s celebration of Earth Month will feature activities ranging from the serious to the fun.

Speakers include folksinger/social activist Peter Yarrow; Richard Louv, author of an award-winning bestseller about reconnecting children with nature; and Gerry Ellis, a nature and wildlife photographer who is documenting the impact of encroachment on the great apes. A performance of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, a photography contest, a rain barrel workshop and tree plantings also are part of the activities, which are all open to the public and all free (except a materials fee for the rain barrel workshop).

"To sustain our world, we have to make a conscious effort to do our part, which is what this month is about," said Dr. Joseph Baust, program developer for the Center of Excellence for Environmental Education (CE3), one of several Longwood organizations involved in what the university is calling Eco April.

Yarrow, a former member of Peter, Paul & Mary, will present a concert Monday, April 21, at 7 p.m. in the nearby Moton Museum. He will conduct workshops that day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., also in Moton Museum, related to the anti-bullying program Operation Respect and Operation Environmental Respect, both of which he founded.

Louv, whose book Last Child in the Woods sparked a national dialogue, will speak Monday, April 7, at 4 p.m. in Jarman Auditorium. The book documents how decreased exposure to nature, which Louv calls "nature-deficit disorder," harms children and society. During a book signing and reception that will be held outside Lancaster at 5 p.m. that day, a tree will be planted between that building and Jarman.

Ellis, whose work has taken him to jungles around the world and appeared in National Geographic, will give an illustrated talk, "The Broken Mirror: Reflections on Great Apes Extinction," on Tuesday, April 1, at 7 p.m. in Bedford Auditorium. The title is from the book and documentary film he is making on his Great Ape Diaries project. In the project, begun in January 2012, Ellis is documenting the effect of habitat encroachment, climate change and disease transmission on great apes in remote Africa, Borneo and Sumatra.

The Lorax, with audience participation, will be presented Wednesday, April 16, at 7 p.m. in Wygal Auditorium. The environmentally themed book will be performed by actor Carl Lombardi, who has often performed the role.

A photo contest aimed at capturing the natural world, with a different theme each week, will be held from March 29-April 25. Photographers can tweet pictures to #LUearthmonth14 or email them to dec@longwood.edu to be displayed on the project’s blog and considered for judging. Selected photos will be printed and on display from April 28-May 2, and the best photographers will receive a full-color canvas print of their photos.

A rain barrel workshop will be held Friday, April 25, from noon to 1 p.m. outside the greenhouse near McCorkle Hall. To reserve a rain barrel ($35 per barrel), call 434-395-2602. A tree will be planted on nearby Stubbs Lawn during the workshop.

A ground-breaking ceremony for Longwood’s new Environmental Education Center at North Campus (Lancer Park) will be held Wednesday, April 9, at 4 p.m. The center, expected to be completed in August, will support the CE3 program and environmental education. Tours of Longwood’s biomass facility will be given every Wednesday (April 2, 9, 16 and 23) from 1 to 4 p.m.

There will be sustainability-related exhibits on Brock Commons from April 21-23. Members of student organizations will be invited to paint 20 birdhouses that will be placed throughout campus.

The 2014 Virginia Geographic Bee, for students in grades 4-8, will be held on campus Friday, April 4. The final round of competition, held in Jarman Auditorium and expected to begin around 1 p.m., is open to the public. Last year Longwood also hosted the state finals, part of national competition sponsored by the National Geographic Society.

Eco April, which evolved from Earth Day, is supported by the Albert I. Pierce Foundation, the American Democracy Project and Longwood’s SOLstice program. Longwood’s Hull Springs Farm, an interdisciplinary 662-acre land and water laboratory in Westmoreland County, is among the campus partners.

"Like Hull Springs Farm’s mission, Earth Month is an effort to teach others how to appreciate and sustain the planet," said Sherry Swinson, Hull Springs Farm director.

For a complete schedule of activities, visit www.longwood.edu/earthmonth.

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