At 9 and 8 years old, Alex Carvalho and Julian De Sa can articulate the significance of Earth Day and how it isn't the only day people should care about the planet.
"You have to be extra nice to the Earth," Carvalho said. "You should be nice to the Earth every day, but extra nice on Earth Day."
Carvalho and de Sa rode their bikes from East Palo Alto to the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve for Baylands Earth Day on Saturday afternoon.
The event, which included activities that range from games to invasive species clean-up, was coordinated by the City of Palo Alo and several organizations, including the Palo Alto Open Space Nature Preserve.
"Earth Day is special because you celebrate and do special things," De Sa said. "I like living here (by the Baylands) because I get to see lots of animals and birds."
"Earth Day is really important," said Kathleen Jones, park ranger of Palo Alto Open Space Nature Preserves.
"It reminds people what they're taking care of. People also don't realize there's a ranger station here. We like sharing this place (the Baylands)."
The ranger's station features games such as "Wheel of Trash" and "Toxic Toss," which teach about waste and dumping, according to Maree Doden, program assistant at the Regional Water Treatment Center for Palo Alto, Mountain View and Los Altos.
Prashee Agarwal, a Palo Alto resident, came to Saturday's event with her son.
"Considering we're trashing the Earth, it's a good wake-up call. Simple things, like them mentioning at this station that 90 percent of the stuff in the bay isn't biodegradable, are important," she said.
Alex Gawley and his daughter Ruth live in Palo Alto close to Baylands.
"She loves to do these kind of activities," he said about the scavenger hunt.
Participants at certain stations stressed the importance of taking care of local wildlife and its natural inhabitants.
In the Native Plant Nursery, employees from Seagate Technology, located in Cupertino, volunteered with the nonprofit organization Save The Bay to replant wild rye, which doesn't grow in the bay as much as it used to in the past, they said.
"It's just kind of a local, low-key thing folks wanted to do on a Saturday," said Richard Kanes of Seagate Technology. "It's really great to do something on Earth Day. This is one local piece of it."
Jack States, a restoration project specialist for Save The Bay, instructed the group in the nursery, which is one of multiple sites the group works at. Half of the plants were propagated there with the help of volunteers, he said.
Many marshes in the Bay Area don't exist anymore, which he said is why Save The Bay is teaching people the importance of them and their role in the environment.
"Our mission is very aligned to what Earth Day is about," he said. "We're trying to inform people of the importance of salt marshes. More than 500 species use salt marshes. They can filter out heavy metals, oils and trash before they get further out into the bay. They act as a sponge and suck extra water to prevent flooding. People spend billions on things such as levees and filtration systems, when marshes do that for free."
Members of Save The Bay also organized a wetlands-restoration project with volunteers.
"This year, we installed native wetlands species ... (the volunteers) came out and were super energetic," said Restoration Program Manager Seth Chanin. "We're re-establishing wetland transition zones (the area between upland and a salt marsh). We removed 1,000 pounds of invasive species."
Several volunteers from Homestead High School in Sunnyvale turned out.
"I felt like it was a good opportunity to do this on Earth Day," said Tingyee Change. "I was looking to do something for it and this matched up."
The benefits to the environment were something about the project they said they also enjoyed.
"It's rewarding to have seen all the weeds there and then after a few hours, they're gone," said Laura Lodolo.
The Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society led a bird walk, according to Programs Coordinator Toby Goldberg.
The group Environmental Volunteers, which goes into classrooms to teach about natural science, set up activities in the EcoCenter to teach about energy-saving light bulbs, earthquake geology and crafts of the native Ohlone tribe, according to Volunteer Docent Jeanne Gary.
At the Baylands Center, Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo employees showcased several animals from the museum, as well as a plankton lab and net fishing.
"Children will be able to learn more about the Earth and how to protect it," said employee Melissa Walton. "You can talk to them in a classroom as much as you want, but it's better to get them out."
Animals at the station included a ferret named Rascal and a Chilean tarantula named Rose.
"We want to try and teach empathy for the natural world," said Education Director Alex Hamilton. "It's something that can happen in the context of Earth Day."
At Byxbee Park they showed off Sequoia, the zoo's bald eagle.
Many children stopped to draw local animals and plants on the Baylands Habitat Mural at the Palo Alto Art Center station, according to Ariel Feinberg Beroson, director of education at the center.
"We've been pretty busy," she said. "It'll be put in the Baylands Interpretive Center. It's important for people to get together for this and Earth Day is an important event for people to think about the environment, especially in Palo Alto.