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Mike Terry, Deseret News
Victoria Darling talks with Youth Resource Specialist for Volunteers of America, Sarah Coleman as they pull weeds at the Volunteers of America Teen Girl Transition Home in Salt Lake on Friday, April 22, 2011.

SALT LAKE CITY — Planting gardens, dropping ping pong balls or putting in solar panels. Everyone had a unique way to celebrate Earth Day on Friday, the 41st anniversary of the day devoted to giving the planet an environmental boost.

Observed in more than 190 countries, Earth Day has built up its own following in Utah, where a variety of events were held to mark the occasion.

Home Depot, for example, teamed up with the Volunteers of America to help put in a vegetable garden for the Teen Girl Transition Home in Salt Lake City.

The day was picked to showcase the River's Edge Elementary School in South Jordan, where 234 solar panels were installed. The 48,000 square-foot school is said to be one of the most energy efficient in the state, featuring a "super efficient" thermal wall system, geothermal heating and cooling and wind turbines.

In Logan at Utah State University, "A Day on the Quad" featured the Student Alumni Association reminding students to be environmentally friendly.

Friday also marked the groundbreaking for a redesign of the plaza at the east entrance of the University of Utah's J. Willard Marriott Library. The design was actually "gifted" by the school's 2010 senior class president Erica Anderson, who came up with the plan to transform dead space on campus in favor of something more innovative.

The project calls for the removal of approximately 600 square feet of concrete to be replaced with beds containing native Utah plant species. The new design is expected to increase the amount of storm water that seeps into the area's soil, with an estimated annual increase of 114 gallons of rainwater that will be put into the ground.

The groundbreaking featured remarks by David Chapman, professor of geology and geophysics.

After the ceremony, an Earth Fest bicycle parade was led by Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker.

This year's Earth Day theme is "A Billion Acts of Green," according to the Earth Day Network.

The network posted a variety of steps people can take to meet the organization's goal of reaching a billion acts of environmental service.

Email: amyjoi@desnews.com Twitter: amyjoi16