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The Nelson Institute is formally known as the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. Gaylord Nelson LLB’42 was the governor of Wisconsin from 1959 to 1963, a three-term U.S. senator, and the founder of Earth Day. You’d be correct in assuming that Nelson’s politics were heavily influenced by the environmental movement throughout his public service. On April 22, 1970, Nelson celebrated the first Earth Day with a teach-in to discuss conservation issues. That same year, the UW founded the Institute for Environmental Studies to support a similar mission: environmental education, research, and public outreach. In 2002, the institute added “Nelson” to its official name to honor Nelson’s legacy and channel his cause. This year — 52 years later — Earth Day and the Nelson Institute are still going strong. In fact, Earth Day is celebrated as Earth Week on the UW campus because there are too many events to pack into a single day. Will Earth Month and Earth Year be next as the UW increases sustainability efforts?

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