Celebrate Earth Day!

Whether it's taking public transportation or picking up some trash around town or perhaps planting a tree or flower, there are plenty of ways to recognize Earth Day, which technically falls on April 22, 2021, but the spirit of which can be celebrated any day of the year.


The theme of this year's Earth Day is "Restore Our Earth," according to Earthday.org and the site will host a variety of virtual workshops and panels in the three days leading up to April 22.


However, here in Cortland, at least one local resident thinks about the theme on a regular basis, through the JTM Ruck Club he formed in October 2018. Cortland resident Dustin Sherman formed the club a little more than a year after he quit smoking for the last time and decided he would need to make a lifestyle change this time around to stick with his decision.


Dustin Sherman leads a ruck with the JTM Ruck Club.

Through the club, participants train together, carrying weight around in backpacks while they walk or run around the community-an activity called rucking. Their training is based on GORUCK, which consists of Special Forces techniques and skills. Workouts are combined with community service projects or spirited challenges and participants have fun while exercising and trying to improve their community and themselves.


Sherman's group carries trash bags and participants, wearing gloves and carrying hand sanitizer, pick up litter and trash they encounter on their journey. Sherman said he has noticed the group gathering a considerable amount of trash around the community throughout the year, an uptick he isn't sure whether to attribute to the pandemic or the harsh winter-or perhaps just an unrelated wave of people thoughtlessly littering.


Participants ruck earlier in April



For Earth Day this year, on Thursday the 22nd, the Ruck Club will do an informal Morning Miles cleanup with the club. The cleanup departs Dexter Park at 5:30 a.m. and lasts about 45 minutes. Participants are encouraged to carry whatever weight they are comfortable with-or no weight at all- and move according to their skill and ability level.


And next month, continuing the spirit of Earth Day, JTM Ruck Club will hold its annual spring cleanup. The event is on May 8 and held in partnership with the Travis Manion Foundation. The foundation honors fallen Iraq War Veteran Travis Manion, who died on April 29, 2007 when he and his fellow marines were ambushed in the Al Anbar province of Iraq.



Tracking the time on a ruck.


Sherman said the May 8 cleanup, called Operation Legacy, is held twice a year in partnership with the foundation and it is intended to honor fallen soldiers. The May 8 event will start at Beaudry Park and run from 2 to 5 p.m.


Anyone interested in participating in the global virtual Earth Day panels can do so here. The workshops culminate in an Earth Day Live global event on April 22, at 12 p.m., when workshops will focus on emerging green technologies and innovative thinking that can restore the world's ecosystems.


Central New York residents interested in participating in a JTM Ruck Club activity can look the club up on Facebook or Instagram and reach out to Sherman through those platforms.