Film director James Cameron will be hailed as an environmental hero at Santa Barbara’s 40th Earth Day Festival.

The Community Environmental Council’s award recognizes environmental advocacy across a range of disciplines and is presented at the community’s annual Earth Day Festival, scheduled for April 17 and 18. According to Sigrid Wright, the assistant director of the CEC, Cameron will be honored with the Environmental Hero Award for his Academy Award winning blockbuster film “Avatar.”

“This year, we selected James Cameron for his message in [his] film,” Wright said. “He speaks about different issues and is a local resident. He spoke at our 30th anniversary Earth Day festival, and we know his ethic and his level of concern for this region.”

According to a press release from the CEC, Cameron incorporates important environmental messages in the film’s plot.

“Cameron’s depiction of the planet Pandora and the corruption that threatens to destroy it is an amazing movie-going experience that also advocates for environmental responsibility,” the statement said.

The Environmental Hero Award is just one aspect of this year’s Earth Day celebration, which will be held in Alameda Park and last two days. The festival will feature children’s activities, special events and music. Approximately 20,000 people are expected to attend.

Catherine Pringle, a second-year biology and German double major, said she hopes the Earth Day event reminds people to protect the environment.

“It’s kind of ironic how we have to even have an Earth Day; we should be conscious of the earth every day,” Pringle said.

Liv Scott, a fourth-year women’s studies major, said this year’s celebration should serve to motivate students to take action to improve the environment.

“Honestly, I think [Earth Day] is awesome,” Scott said. “My advice for people would be to just do what they can. Not everyone can drive a hybrid car or walk everywhere, but I think everyone can, say, recycle their beer cans and red cups. I walked by an apartment complex the other night and there must have been about 50 to 75 red cups just scattered all over the ground. It was disheartening.”

According to Wright, Earth Day is an important community event.

“I think we consider Earth Day to be one of those quintessential Santa Barbara festivals,” Wright said. “It really is a trademark of Santa Barbara.”

The city held one of the nation’s first Earth Day festivals in 1970 following the devastating 1969 oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara.

Further announcements, festival guides and schedules will be released closer to the festival date.

Past recipients of the award include former CEO of Clipper Windpower Jim Dehlsen, singer Jackson Browne, singer Kenny Loggins and founding CEO of Tesla Motors Elon Musk.