A warm, beautiful spring day helped welcomed 6,500 visitors for a day of celebrating the Earth at Temple University Ambler’s EarthFest 2016 on Earth Day, April 22.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with how EarthFest turned out this year,” said EarthFest Coordinator Susan Spinella Sacks, who is also Assistant Director of event host the Center for Sustainable Communities (CSC). “Our visitors and exhibitors fully embraced the day as an opportunity to learn about and share information that will be beneficial for this and future generations.”
EarthFest is one of the most highly anticipated events of the year at Temple University Ambler. Thousands of students from all over the region come together and spend time learning about the world in which we live and the interconnected systems on which the lives of people and animals depend.
With huge crowds eager to interact with more than 90 exhibits for 2016, EarthFest takes a veritable army of volunteers to be successful each year. EarthFest Volunteer Coordinators for 2016 included Eric Rivera, Rachel Berger, Cathy Kelly, Zoe Rasmussen and Jim Dietz.
“Our volunteers — students, faculty, staff and community members — were excellent ambassadors for Temple at EarthFest,” Berger said. “We had many school volunteers, which I think shows how important the event has become in the region — people want to be a part of this special day.”
University College Vice Provost Vicki Lewis McGarvey and Center for Sustainable Communities Director Jeffrey Featherstone were joined by Cecil Rodrigues, Deputy Regional Administrator for the U.S. EPA Mid-Atlantic Region to welcome visitors to EarthFest this year. 6abc Meteorologist Melissa Magee returned for her seventh year as EarthFest Main Stage emcee; 6abc was also the media sponsor for EarthFest 2016.
“It’s wonderful to see kids’ faces at EarthFest. They are so curious and so willing to ask questions; EarthFest provides them with such a large and diverse forum to find out more about the world around them,” said Melissa Magee. “They are so excited to be here, excited about interacting with exhibitors, taking in new information, learning about science and becoming engaged in protecting and preserving the environment. And for the students that become exhibitors at EarthFest, they are so proud to showcase what they have learned — they become the teachers!”
Central High School will filled 10 exhibit spaces with numerous exhibits related to their study topic “Water Pollution: An Introduction to Causes, Effects and Solutions.” W.B. Saul High School High School of Agricultural Sciences also presented 10 exhibits while Upper Dublin High School presented eight.
At Upper Dublin, EarthFest has become part of the 10th grade Environmental Science curriculum. Students have the opportunity to present an exhibit at EarthFest as an independent or group project, according to environmental science teacher Lisa Fantini.
“It has been a great experience for the Upper Dublin students to understand what preparation and education is needed for a public event like EarthFest,” Fantini said “Our students are required to independently work through the process from beginning brainstorming of a topic and presentation type, to researching, to obtaining supplies, to preparing those models, take-homes and visuals for the kids, to practicing, to the endpoint of running the day’s event efficiently. In May, they will do reflections and have an informal discussion with classmates about their experiences.”
In addition to extremely popular returning exhibitors such as the Philadelphia Zoo, Franklin Institute, National Park Service, Academy of Natural Sciences, Elmwood Park Zoo and the Insectarium, exhibitors such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and event sponsor Dow pulled out all the stops in sharing interactive messages supporting EarthFest’s theme of “sustaining our communities.”
EarthFest makes a huge impact on children “that may never be exposed to any number of the exhibits onsite during the event,” said Laurie Smith Wood, Director of Education at the Elmwood Park Zoo.
“The students are so engaged; they are asking so many questions and want to know the answer to everything!” she said. “One of the things that I love about EarthFest is that we’re all sharing a similar message — that everyone can make a positive impact on the world around them. I hope that everyone leaves the event with some ideas of simple things that they can do to help. I feel their eyes are opened to a number of new and exciting things including zoos and other museums, important programs like beekeeping, different corporations doing extraordinary work to save/protect the planet and even different career choices.”
Temple University departments and student organizations in particular highlight the possibilities in a variety of green industry professions. In addition to event sponsor the Center for Sustainable Communities, Division of Architecture and Environmental Design exhibitors included the Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture, Temple Planning Student Organization, Landscape Architecture and Horticulture Association, Department of Planning and Community Development, Temple University Ambler Aquaponics, Pi Alpha Xi and the Department of Architecture.
Participating Temple departments also included the Office of Sustainability, Temple Athletics, Temple Community Garden, Rad Dish Co-Op Café, the Center for Obesity Research and Education, Temple University Computer Recycling Center, Temple University Dining Services/Sodexo, Temple University Infant and Child Laboratory and the Temple University Recycling Department.
EarthFest 2016 sponsors included Dow Chemical Company, Air Quality Partners - Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, Ellis A. Gimbel Trust, Janet and Lew Klein, PECO, the American Planning Association Pennsylvania Chapter, Temple University Ambler, the Township of Upper Dublin and Waste Management. Transportation Angels sponsors included McMahon Associates, William and Sally Mifflin, Suzanne and Alex Oscilowski, Lucy and John Strackhouse, Paula and Mark Solomon and Maureen Thompson.
“EarthFest is a perfect opportunity to connect with more than 6,000 students who are eager to listen, learn and make a difference with Dow STEM Ambassadors,” said Justin Land, Dow’s Northeast Public Affairs Manager. “Dow strategically invests in opportunities to leverage its science and technology expertise, sustainability focus, and global network to increase public appreciation of chemistry, encourage interest in science among young people and generate enthusiasm for a creative future. As a celebration of science, EarthFest provides a fun, interactive opportunity to showcase the role each of us plays.”