History of Earth Day
knew that one man's idea would spark a nationwide
grassroots explosion? The first Earth Day was held on
April 22, 1970. It was the product of an idea that
Senator Gaylord Nelson first thought of in 1962.
Prior to this, the environment was not much of a national
The environment was very important to Senator Gaylord Nelson,
and he convinced President Kennedy to go on a
conservation tour and speak about the dangers that the
environment was facing. However, the tour did not elicit
the type of response that Nelson was hoping for.
While Nelson was on a conservation tour in the summer of 1969,
he came up with the idea of having Earth Day. His idea
stemmed from the Vietnam War protests that were occurring on
college campuses. He decided there should be a
national day for teaching about the environment and increasing
public awareness about its future.
An Earth Day campaign was established in Washington D.C., with
Senator Nelson serving on its board of directors, and
Republican Representative Pete McCloskey as co-chair.
Denis Hayes, a recent graduate from Stanford University, was
hired as National Coordinator of the first Earth Day.
Approximately 20 million people participated in the
demonstration known as Earth Day in 1970. Senator Nelson
finally received the response that he was looking for.*
Day history information gathered from an excerpt from a
catalyst conference speech, University of Illinois 10/6/90 by
Former Senator Gaylord Nelson
Georgia Tech's Earth Day Festival
Friday, April 21, 2017
(10am - 3pm)