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RISMEDIA, April 21, 2011—(MCT)—With the 40th annual Earth Day celebration taking place on Friday, April 22, Americans across the country will be taking part in activities to honor our planet. Here are five family-oriented ways to celebrate Earth Day.

1. Earth Day festivals. Find an Earth Day celebration in a community near you or in a place you’ve always wanted to visit. For example, in British Columbia’s Comox Valley, the interactive Family Festival will feature live music and dance performances with the theme “Forests, Faeries and Fun.” At the Food Pod, participants will learn about the food system through exhibits on aspects such as growers, preservers and recyclers. The Laundry Project will offer information about energy conservation and the use of biodegradable soap.

2. Enjoy a farm stay. Get close to the land; plan a farm stay. You’ll wake to a rooster’s call or the sounds of other barnyard animals welcoming the day. Share in the chores or simply observe a lifestyle that’s likely to be quite different from yours. Enjoy fresh eggs for breakfast. Depending on the farm you choose, you can relax in a hammock, ride a horse, pick berries, fish a local stream or read under a shade tree. Animals and activities vary by farm.

3. National Kids to Parks Day. Join your children in a movement to celebrate our country’s local, state and national parks. Attend the kickoff on May 20th at the National Mall in Washington. Grown-ups are encouraged to take their children and grandchildren to one of nation’s thousands of parks on May 21. Kids can tweet about their participation or send photos that will be posted on a national map. Check the site for park activities and other family-friendly suggestions.

4. Be an eco-traveler. Costa Rica was an early leader in the ecotourism movement. Visit Lapa Rios Ecolodge on the country’s Osa Peninsula for an intense experience of wildlife and biological diversity. Book your family to be part of the “Twigs, Pigs and Garbage Sustainability Tour,” joining wildcat researchers in their efforts to conserve jaguars and pumas, and exploring nearby tide pools.

5. Aldo Leopold Nature Center, Monona, Wis. Visit the nature center inspired by Wisconsin naturalist and author Aldo Leopold for outdoor activities designed for busy families. Explore walking trails supported by season-specific backpacks containing exploration guides and an activity kit. Visit the Leopold Interpretive Trail and the touch-table that enables young children to feel natural items such as feathers, bones, fur and rocks. Ask about summer-camp programs just for kids.

(c) 2011, The Dallas Morning News.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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