Temple University Ambler: Supporting Innovative Education for More than a Century

Students work in the Ambler Campus Aquaponics Lab

The evolution of Temple University Ambler started with what was then a revolutionary concept — providing educational opportunities for women at a time when few were available. Temple Ambler’s forerunner, the Pennsylvania School of Horticulture for Women was nearly unique in providing its students hands-on education and the opportunity to enhance and enrich their lives.

More than 100 years later, the Ambler Campus continues to play a unique role within Temple University. A designated arboretum, it is a living laboratory of varied environments — from conifer and wetland gardens to healing gardens and woodlands — that allow students and faculty to take an experience-backed deep dive into the subjects they are learning about or the research that they are testing.

“Over the past fiscal year much has happened here at the Ambler Campus. We remain dedicated to helping students flourish in their educational pursuits all while providing a state-of-the-art learning space,” said Angela Davis, Director of Development at Temple University Ambler. “As we anticipate welcoming the new Director of the Ambler Arboretum of Temple University, we would like to equip them with the resources they need to provide the very best services to Temple students and the surrounding community. As the end of our fiscal year quickly approaches we hope that our dedicated supporters will consider including the Ambler Campus and the Ambler Arboretum in their annual giving plans.”

Temple Ambler is a place of “learning by doing.” Landscape Architecture students immerse themselves in projects that they not only design but build, such as award-winning exhibits at the annual Philadelphia Flower Show that are seen be more than 250,000 visitors. Horticulture students closely study hundreds of types of plant and tree species on campus and in the state-of-the-art campus Greenhouse.

Civil Engineering and Earth and Environmental Science professors are researching seismic waves and earthquakes while Center for Sustainable Communities researchers study hydrology, weather, stormwater management and transportation. Criminal Justice experts are training the next generation of police officers and park rangers on campus while psychology students seek to understand the cognitive development of children in the Temple Infant and Child Lab.

There are few other programs where students not only help design but also build a park from scratch right in the middle of a busy community. There are few university campuses where students interested in the environment can explore the future of sustainable agriculture in a fully accredited aquaponics lab.

“The Ambler Aquaponics Lab is in need of upgrades and funding to aid students in research and applied technology in sustainability,” said Davis. “We hope that our campus community — alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends of the campus — will help us grow the lab’s ability to further aquaponics environmental research into new avenues and possibilities!”

Temple Ambler provides the foundation to begin almost any Temple degree, but the campus goes well beyond that. The campus is 187 acres of opportunity and administrators are exploring several new programs, initiatives and partnerships that will only help our students learn and grow in the future.

The Ambler Campus also seeks to inspire the next generation of learners, providing a full day of hands-on learning opportunities in environmental and STEM education during a massive annual celebration of Earth Day. The mission of EarthFest is to promote environmental awareness using sustainable concepts, methods and practices to protect and preserve our environment. Organizations, businesses, students of all ages and individuals demonstrate sustainable concepts and technologies, and provide interactive educational displays, activities, and much more.

Specialized learning experiences like the aquaponics lab, the Arboretum and EarthFest, don’t happen without continual support from partnerships, sponsors and alumni in order to thrive.

EarthFest, for example, could not take place without financial and physical support from donations of every size.

“EarthFest carries a significant operating cost. Sponsorship gifts offset that cost, enabling us to enhance access to EarthFest for many students, teachers, and community residents throughout the region,” said EarthFest co-coordinator Susan Spinella-Sacks. “Most participating schools have made the event a yearly highlight of their science curricula. One reason so many schools are able to participate in EarthFest is that we have never charged attendees — schools pay nothing beyond the cost of their own transportation and we also have a fund, Transportation Angels, to assist them specifically with that. The high quality of the event and its affordability keep past participants coming back and encourage additional schools to attend each year.”

One of the main goals of the aquaponics lab “is to use the system to educate our students and the public,” according to Michael Bavas, Senior Technical Support Specialist in Temple’s Computer Services Department who helped spearhead the aquaponics project at Ambler.

“We want student and community involvement to help create an awareness about aquaponics and its uses. We want to become a resource for community gardeners so that they can develop aquaponics systems of their own,” he said. “It’s organic farming that can be set up in almost any space and you can grow food year round. The plants grow faster and are healthier and there is no run-off — I think is a vital farming technique for today and the years ahead.”

Temple Ambler alumni, donors and supporters bring “knowledge, talent and resources to the campus that we otherwise would not be able to access,” said Davis.

“New alumni volunteers have helped us strategize, align our mission and serve our students and community more than ever before!” she said. “We look forward to continue to work with our Ambler Campus family for the betterment of Temple students and the surrounding community.

Temple University Ambler’s students are Temple Made, Temple proud and exemplify the best that Temple can be. Our students and faculty — and researchers who use the unique environments that Ambler has to offer — are taking charge, changing the region, the nation and the world. With your help, their next stop after graduation will be wherever they want it to be!

To learn more about supporting Temple University Ambler or how to make a charitable gift that supports numerous campus initiatives, contact Angela Davis at angela.davis@temple.edu or 267-530-2933 or Eric Rivera at ericrivera@temple.edu or 267-468-8011.