Well folks, today is the fourth annual Endangered Species Day, an event created by act of the U.S. Senate to encourage education about and action to protect the more than 1,300 endangered species in our country.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein kicked off the drive to call the third Friday in May "Endangered Species Day" back in 2006, saying "I hope that Endangered Species Day will spark wonder and interest in conservation efforts throughout the country.” Several conservation organizations supported her effort, including the Sierra Club and the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, and the Senate unanimously approved the resolution on April 6, 2006.

Of course, few people even know that Endangered Species Day exists, let alone "celebrate" it. Even the media doesn't have this "holiday" on its radar -- a search on Google News this morning only found 22 newspapers across the country running stories about Endangered Species Day.

But that's easy enough to correct, starting now. There are, believe it or not, hundreds of Endangered Species Day events taking place at schools, parks, zoos and other facilities today and this weekend. They include nature hikes, photo exhibits, lectures, and bird-watching, as well as events for children.

You can also take this opportunity to find out more about what you can do to protect endangered species, which is not officially part of Endangered Species Day oddly enough. The Endangered Species Coalition has a list of 10 easy steps you can take to protect species in your neck of the woods, such as avoiding the use of pesticides and using less water. 

Several other barely known environmental holidays are coming up in the next few months. May 27 is Rachel Carson Day, celebrating the work of the author of the seminal environmental book, Silent Spring. June 5 is World Environment Day, sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme. August 9 is Smokey the Bear's birthday (remember, only you can prevent birthday candles). And Australia commemorates the death of the world's last Tasmanian tiger (or thylacine) on September 7 with Australian National Threatened Species Day (aka National Thylacine Day).

Maybe some day we'll get to hear people saying "Every day is Endangered Species Day." But until then, why not get out of the house this weekend and attend an event in the honor of endangered species?