EarthFest 2015 highlights environmental action, sustaining our communities

The Elmwood Park Zoo shows off Noah the Bald Eagle at Temple University Ambler EarthFest.

Flooding is the number one disaster in the United States and the world. As local neighborhoods and communities can attest, this region of the country is particularly susceptible to the devastating impact of floods.

At EarthFest, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will have activities for students young and old focused on identifying flood risk and making better decisions on how to reduce it. Students will be able to see firsthand if their home, apartment or neighborhood falls within a flood zone. Using a detailed tabletop model, they will also be able to take a hands-on approach to determining how development affects floodplains.

“We want to provide students with a better understanding of the causes of flooding and the consequences, both positive and negatives, of the choices that we make in our communities,” said Mari Radford, Mitigation Planner for FEMA’s Region III, which includes Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Delaware, West Virginia and Virginia. “There is a lot of synergy between FEMA’s mission and the research being done at Temple — working with communities to ensure that they are prepared for the next disaster, that they are able to survive the next flood. There is real value in exposing students now to a lot of new ideas — living compatibly with our world and, specifically, building sustainable communities.”

Since its inception in 2003, Temple University Ambler’s EarthFest has placed a spotlight on sustaining our communities, welcoming dozens of exhibitors and thousands of visitors each year for an outdoor, educational celebration of protecting and preserving the planet. FEMA is just one of more than 75 exhibits and activities that will be sharing new ideas and concepts with more than 6,000 students, teachers, parents and the public at EarthFest 2015, which will be held on Friday, April 24, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Ambler Campus, 580 Meetinghouse Road.

“EarthFest has become an essential part of sharing what Temple Ambler does best — promoting environmental stewardship in our communities,” said Susan Spinella Sacks, EarthFest Coordinator and Assistant Director of the Center for Sustainable Communities, the event host. “We are able to bring a diverse group of students, educators and exhibitors together each year to celebrate a common cause; then our student visitors do the real work. They are teaching their peers — and in many cases their parents — how they can ensure sustainable communities. EarthFest plants the seed; it’s the students that will make it grow.”

Exhibitors at EarthFest 2015

At EarthFest, exhibitors, ranging from non-profit watershed groups to for-profit businesses and nearly 20 school groups, will present their ideas, projects, and initiatives in new and intriguing ways. Temple departments and student organizations are also well represented at EarthFest, with participation from the Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture, the Department of Community and Regional Planning, the Office of Sustainability, the University Recycling Department, Temple Athletics and more.

Exhibitors for 2015 include the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Insectarium, the National Park Service, the Delaware River Basin Commission, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Elmwood Park Zoo, and dozens more.

While the Franklin Institute teaches students how energy is used to power everything from power plants to the human body, the U.S. EPA will provide valuable information on water conservation, reducing pesticide use and controlling stormwater pollution in addition to leading tours of a 35-foot long “Mobile Command Post.” At EarthFest Main Stage, the Elmwood Park Zoo will promote a variety of animal conservation efforts and present a live animal program, which includes Stella the great horned owl, who has become a staple at Temple’s sporting events throughout the year.

“EarthFest makes a huge impact on childen hat 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. “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. We hope that people will want to get involved and work to make a difference because they can affect change.”

Community Support

It would be impossible to have EarthFest without dedicated support from numerous EarthFest sponsors and more than 100 volunteers — many of whom are from local communities, schools and area businesses. 

Event contributing sponsors for 2015 include Dow; the Air Quality Partnership - Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission; the Ellis A. Gimbel Trust; PECO; the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association; the Temple University Ambler and School of Environmental Design Board of Visitors: the Township of Upper Dublin; and Waste Management.

“The world needs solutions for big challenges like energy, climate change, water, food, housing and health. There is a critical need to inspire the next generation to take up the call,” said Justin Land, Dow’s Northeast Public Affairs Manager. “EarthFest is a perfect opportunity to connect with more than 6,000 students who are eager to listen, learn and make a difference.”

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