A warm, beautiful day helped welcomed more than 5,500 visitors for a day of celebrating the Earth at Temple University Ambler’s EarthFest 2017 on Earth Day, April 28.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with how EarthFest turned out this year. 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,” said EarthFest Coordinator Susan Spinella Sacks. “EarthFest this year was dedicated to the memory of Dr. Jeff Featherstone, who was one of the essential founders of the event. I think he would be very proud that 15 events later, we are still inspiring a new generation of environmental leaders.”
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 inquisitive crowds eager to interact with more than 85 exhibits for 2017, EarthFest takes a veritable army of volunteers to be successful each year.
“Our volunteers — students, faculty, staff and community members — were excellent ambassadors for Temple at EarthFest,” said EarthFest Volunteer Coordinator Eric Rivera. “We had several volunteers from outside organizations and businesses and volunteers from a variety of Temple schools and colleges, 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 was joined by Cecil Rodrigues, Acting Regional Administrator for the U.S. EPA Mid-Atlantic Region to welcome visitors to EarthFest this year. 6abc Meteorologist Melissa Magee returned for her eighth year as EarthFest Main Stage emcee; 6abc was also the media sponsor for EarthFest 2017.
“What I hope EarthFest visitors walk away with is an appreciation for what’s around them. It engenders a greater awareness and cognizance about how we contribute to the world around us in both positive and negative ways,” said Magee. “This is a great stage to talk about the environment and sustainability; to help kids see what is going on and take it all in, to help them realize that this isn’t just a trend. Protecting the environment will be in their hands in the future, but it starts right here. 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 filled a record 20 exhibit spaces with numerous exhibits related to their study topic “Can We Trust the Water?” inspired be the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, while Upper Dublin High School presented six.
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.
“EarthFest is a great opportunity for our students to share their learning experience and engage in a ‘student led’ event. Students will have the opportunity to promote awareness on the health effects of water contamination as well as methods to reduce water pollution,” said Central High School chemistry teacher Van Truong. “Earth Day is a wonderful opportunity for students to explore various science topics as it relates to preserving, understanding and appreciating our Earth. This opportunity affords the students a venue to share and discuss their research findings coupled with appropriate demonstrations; in return, students will enhance their scientific and social communication skills.”
In addition to extremely popular returning exhibitors such as the Franklin Institute, Barn Nature Center, National Park Service, Academy of Natural Sciences, Elmwood Park Zoo and the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion, exhibitors such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency pulled out all the stops in sharing interactive messages supporting EarthFest’s theme of “sustaining our communities.”
Temple University departments and student organizations highlight the possibilities in a variety of green industry professions. 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 and organizations also included the Office of Sustainability, Temple Athletics, Ambler Campus Contemplative Meditation Club, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the Center for Obesity Research and Education, Temple University Computer Recycling Center, Temple University Summer Programs, Temple University Infant and Child Laboratory, Tyler School of Art Glass Guild and the Temple University Recycling Department.
“This event, with its emphasis on the environment and STEM education gives us the opportunity to encourage students to be genuinely curious about the world around them, which will in turn make them better stewards of the Earth,” said Dr. Joseph Coe, an Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering in Temple University’s College of Engineering. “As civil engineers, this provides us with the opportunity to talk about the field and profession; what we do and why we do it.”
EarthFest 2017 sponsors included Air Quality Partnership - Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, Dow Chemical Company, Ellis A. Gimble Trust, Green Mountain Energy, Janet and Lew Klein (in memory of Jeff Featherstone), PECO Energy, American Planning Association, Pennsylvania Chapter, Schiel Family Foundation, Southwest Belmont Community Association, Inc., Temple University Ambler, Township of Upper Dublin, and Gold Medal Environmental.
EarthFest Transportation Angels was sponsored by a very successful OwlCrowd Campaign. Learn more here.
“I think one of the most exciting things about EarthFest is that while our mission remains the same — promote environmental awareness and ways to sustain our communities, every year is a little different,” Spinella-Sacks said. “Fifteen EarthFest celebrations and we’ll soon start working on the 16th — this is a tremendous achievement. EarthFest has become an essential part of sharing what Temple University Ambler does best — promoting environmental stewardship in our communities.”