A Casey Trees crew member plants a tree during a 2014 Earth Day celebration at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling. (Defense Visual Information Distribution Service)
A Casey Trees crew member plants a tree during a 2014 Earth Day celebration at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling. (Defense Visual Information Distribution Service)

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Environmental events don’t just include trash pickups — between film screenings and tree plantings, there’s something for everyone. That’s especially true during April. 

If you’re looking for a way to give back, learn something new or enjoy art that appreciates nature, check out these events going on this week and next. Most are free!

  1. “RiverRun” Festival at the Kennedy Center (through April 22)

Everything from interactive tango performances (April 7 and 8, $15-$35) to wine tastings paired with Czech jazz (April 13, $50) appear on a packed lineup of shows at the Kennedy Center this week as part of its month-long festival, “RiverRun.” The entire festival, which kicked off on World Water Day on March 22 and runs until Earth Day on April 22, focuses on celebrating and conserving our planet’s rivers. 

A dozen art installations and exhibits—ranging from intricate steamboat models to graffiti murals depicting life in the Amazon—will remain in the Center throughout the month, with free entry. The festival also features family-friendly exhibits and events, free expert presentations on a wide range of subjects and two film screenings. 

  1. Tree Plantings and Walks with Casey Trees (April 8, 14 and 15)

Planting trees is an Earth Day classic. Casey Trees, a local organization dedicated to conserving tree canopy in the District, has two volunteer opportunities over the next weeks, both in Northeast. One is at Olivet Cemetery on April 8; the second is at Gallaudet University on April 14. Both events begin at 8:30 a.m. and all the tools are provided. 

If getting your hands dirty isn’t your thing, Casey Trees also offers a Sustainable Development Tree Walk at Reservation 13, near Congressional Cemetery. The one-hour walking tour of the area—one of the last remaining large-scale waterfront developments in the District—will highlight ways that the built environment can remain eco-friendly. It’s on Saturday, April 15 at 10 a.m.

All of the above events from Casey Trees are free but require registration at caseytrees.org/get-involved/volunteer-events

  1. Environmental short films screened at the Washington Hilton (April 15)

From Mozambique to Guatemala to Ukraine, climate change has played a role in cycles of violence and displacement. This film screening, hosted by the Pulitzer Center and the Consortium of Universities for Global Health, tells stories from around the world about the connection between climate change, conflict and migration. The 90-minute event schedule looks jam-packed, with eight short documentaries and a live conversation with a journalist and filmmaker following the screenings. 

The event will be held at the Washington Hilton Hotel, in the International Ballroom East on Concourse Level, at 6:30 p.m. on April 15. Register for free at pulitzercenter.org/event/cugh-pulitzer-center-annual-film-festival.

  1. Volunteer at the National Arboretum’s Springhouse Run Stream (April 8 and 13)

Friends of the National Arboretum hosts volunteer days throughout the year, and April offers a great time (warmer weather, not too humid) to lend a hand. Volunteers will pull invasive plants and weeds from the Springhouse Run stream on the grounds of the National Arboretum.

Plants that aren’t native to an ecosystem can disrupt the health of the stream and the other wildlife that makes a home there. At Springhouse Run, that includes beavers, a “keystone species” that researchers have determined essential for the rest of the ecosystem. The stream feeds into the Anacostia River and eventually the Chesapeake Bay. 

Participation is free, and the hosts will provide tools, gloves and a small snack. Register here: eventbrite.com/cc/volunteer-days-at-springhouse-run-1049499

  1. “Cloudy with a Chance of Science” Presentation at MLK Library (April 12)

One of the world’s leading experts on weather and climate, Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, will discuss how people—both the general public and decision-makers in power—consume science information. He’ll examine social problems that overlap with climate change and weather issues, adding complications to attempts to use science to understand and solve problems. The talk, hosted by Carnegie Science, will take place at Martin Luther King, Jr. Library on April 12 at 6:30 p.m. 

The event will also be livestreamed for virtual viewing. Register for in-person or online attendance at carnegiescience.edu/april-12-cloudy-chance-science.

Kayla Benjamin covers climate change & environmental justice for the Informer as a full-time reporter through the Report for America program. Prior to her time here, she worked at Washingtonian Magazine...

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