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Earth Day Celebration at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods

In 1998, Sister Ann Sullivan decided she wanted to host a local Earth Day celebration that would bring people together for fun and education. At that outdoor brown bag luncheon, all the picnic tables the Sisters of Providence owned were gathered and arranged on the lawn of White Violet Center for Eco-Justice.

A flatbed trailer was used as a stage where Carrie Ferkenhoff, White Violet Center’s then education coordinator, told stories portraying Rachel Carson. It was a warm, sunny day and the lawn was packed with sisters, staff members and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College staff and faculty.

If you’ve been to the Sisters of Providence Earth Day celebration anytime since then you’ve seen how this event has grown into a popular community-wide event drawing nearly 2,000 people from all over Indiana, Illinois and beyond if the weather is good. We still pack the lawn, but the area is much larger these days!

If you don’t already have this year’s event on your calendar for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, there’s still time to plan!  You don’t want to miss being the first to shop at the  new Farm Store at White Violet Center, opening that day!

The Sisters of Providence bake sale will include a make-your-own peanut butter and jelly sandwich bar for children at the Earth Day Celebration at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, April 22.

Wear comfortable shoes, so you can take advantage of the full schedule. The hot and savory Sati Babi® will be back this year and we’ll welcome new food vendor, Petty Pit Stop. Terre Foods Cooperative will be serving sausages from Royer’s Farm and roasted veggies on buns and pitas from Harvest Bakery. There will be about nearly 40 vendors selling handmade and homemade items and other educational booths. Fiber arts and alpaca shearing demonstrations are fun and educational. Mini-workshops on how to prepare healthy smoothies and salads, how to interact with legislators and how to do a home energy audit are on tap.

And listen to this! We’re going to see how many people we can gather for an giant aerial photo at 2 p.m. The Sisters of Providence Justice Coordinating Committee members are still working out the logistics of what word will be spelled out or shape created, but you’ll want to make sure you’re in this historical photo from above!

It’s almost impossible to list every opportunity the Earth Day celebration holds, but hopefully this is enough to get you excited to visit on April 22. It’s free and there are opportunities to give a freewill donation at the gates.


11 a.m. New Farm Store open
11 a.m. Pony rides begin (ongoing)
11 a.m. Knit with a Nun and other fiber arts (ongoing)
11:30 a.m. Cooking workshop (healthy smoothies & salads)
11:30 a.m. Bicycle blessing near Farm Store
Noon Take Flight! Wildlife presentation
Noon USDA certified organic garden tour
12:30 p.m. Lobbying 101 workshop
1 p.m. Making your home energy efficient
1 p.m. Silly Safari presentation
1 p.m. Alpaca shearing demonstration
1:30 p.m. Cooking workshop (healthy smoothies & salads)
2 p.m. Human banner aerial photo
2:30 p.m. Take Flight! Wildlife presentation
2:30-3:30 p.m. SMWC Equine Studies barn tour
2:30-3:30 p.m. Sister Jody O’Neil Art Studio tour

Happy Earth Month!

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Cheryl Casselman

Cheryl Casselman worked as a marketing manager for the Sisters of Providence for twenty years. She grew up in Camby, Indiana and now lives in Sullivan County, Indiana. She has a bachelor's degree in communications from Indiana State University and master's degree in Leadership Development from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.

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