EarthFest News - 2019
While 6abc Action News Meteorologist Melissa Magee might originally be from Los Angeles, California, after 10 years in the Philadelphia region, she’s no stranger to rough winter weather.
Of course this past winter might not necessarily qualify.
“Every year, people think it’s going to be worse than the last but that’s not actually the case. We’ve enjoyed a relatively mild winter this year; snowfall was slightly less than the seasonal average,” said Magee, who has had the “pleasure” of experiencing the top two snowiest winters in Philadelphia history in 2009-2010 and 2013-2014. “What we did experience was a lot of small winter events — snow, ice, sleet and freezing rain — which was certainly enough to cause some problems for the region.”
That hasn’t been the case, however, for large swaths of the country, which seem to experience dangerous weather events on an almost daily basis.
“The trend is that the climate is getting warmer, which is bringing more severe weather earlier and creating larger events,” Magee said. “There is, of course, a connection between changing climate and how it impacts weather.”
Like everyone else, Magee is fully ready to embrace the spring season and is heading back to Temple University Ambler to do just that.
Magee returns to EarthFest 2019 as emcee for the event for her 10th year, interacting with visitors and presenting Main Stage events to inform and educate attendees. During the event, Magee was presented with a 3-D printed green Temple Owl to honor her decade of dedication to EarthFest.
“I think the fact that this was the 17th EarthFest, just shows how successful the event it. EarthFest grows every year — there are always new exhibitors and new ways for students to interact with what they are learning about,” she said. “It’s an event that shares an important, empowering message and keeps people coming back year after year. To have been part of it for 10 years has been an honor.”
Magee said looking back it’s hard to believe how quickly 10 years have flown by. 2019 also marks her 10th year at 6abc.
“I started as the weekend morning meteorologist and then starting doing ‘Down the Shore’ segments with Adam Joseph. Now I’m part of FYI Philly and major events and programs such as the Philadelphia Flower Show, the Auto Show and the 6abc Visions special for African-American History Month. My roll has grown tremendously since I arrived in Philadelphia.”
Magee is currently the weekend meteorologist for Action News at 6 p.m., 11 p.m., as well as Action News at 10 p.m. on PHL-17. She is also a co-host of FYI Philly, 6abc’s weekly entertainment and lifestyle program.
“I think what makes 6abc so successful and a staple in the region is how we all work together, whether it news, sports or weather. What you see on TV is what you get behind-the-scenes,” she said. “I’m tremendously proud to be at the station and proud to be part of this team.”
Returning to EarthFest for her 10th year, Magee said she and 6abc “are always excited to come back and see this event evolve each year.”
“I love it, I love the positivity and the excitement as the kids’ run from exhibit to exhibit asking questions and taking it all in. They aren’t the only ones that are learning at EarthFest — I learn something new every year,” she said. “The students are so excited to be here, 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!”
As emcee for the EarthFest Main Stage, “my job is to keep the party going and make sure everyone is engaged and feeling good about what they can do for their environment and for their future,” she said.
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,” she said. “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.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will be well represented at EarthFest 2019 with a range of exhibits designed to inform and inspire.
One display that’s sure to draw a crowd is the Agency’s popular hazardous response vehicle. The Mobile Command Post has seen a steady stream of visitors each time it’s been driven to the EarthFest grounds.
The vehicle is equipped to support command and control activities, provide sample collection and storage, and distribute supplies and equipment. Local VHF and long-distance communication capabilities help EPA keep in touch with response personnel from other agencies.
Students and others will be able to see the on-board computer network and other communications systems that make this vehicle an invaluable asset in emergency situations. The vehicle has been used to provide support in local responses, preparation exercises and major events like the Presidential Inaugural and the Pocono 500.
But the rolling command post won’t be the only interesting EPA exhibit at this year’s EarthFest. Several divisions of EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region have joined together to present a variety of important information on everything from water conservation emergency management to air quality and the School Flag Program.
The EPA divisions participating in EarthFest 2019 include Water, Laboratory Services and Applied Science, Land, Chemicals and Redevelopment, and Superfund and Emergency Management, which will provide tours of the Mobile Command Post.
In addition to the Mobile Command Post, the Superfund and Emergency Management Division will also present an X-ray fluorescence (XRF) exhibit showing the effect of XRF on soil samples and display a level A emergency response protective suit. Such suits are gas or vapor-tight, providing total encapsulation and the highest level of protection against direct and airborne chemical contact.
The Water Division will test visitors’ “WaterSense” knowledge, highlighting ways that children can save water in their own homes. WaterSense, a partnership program by the U.S. EPA, seeks to protect the future of our nation’s water supply by offering people a simple way to use less water with water-efficient products and services. The program, according to the EPA, seeks to help consumers make smart water choices that save money and maintain high environmental standards — products and services that have earned the WaterSense label have been certified 20 percent more efficient without sacrificing performance.
While the Water Division focuses on efficient use of water, Laboratory Services and Applied Science will showcase the importance of indoor air quality, highlight the impacts of poor indoor air quality and introduce the School Flag Program.
The EPA’s School Flag Program uses brightly colored flags to help children, parents, school personnel and the community be aware of daily air quality conditions. The flag colors correspond to the colors used in EPA’s Air Quality Index (AQI), which tells how clean or polluted the air is for that day. When members of the school and the surrounding community know what the daily air quality is, they can adjust their activities to reduce their exposure to air pollution. According to the Laboratory Services and Applied Science Division, the purpose of the school flag program is to help children continue to exercise.
The EPA’s goal in participating at EarthFest is to help students, teachers, families and businesses learn how they can make important contributions in protecting the environment. Even small changes in the daily behavior of individuals can have a positive impact on the health of our environment and ultimately the health of families.
How do you plan on celebrating Earth Day this year?
EarthFest 2019, Temple University Ambler’s annual outdoor educational festival celebrating Earth Day, will be held on Friday, April 26, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., rain or shine.
“This will be our 16th year and our 17th EarthFest celebration. 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,” said EarthFest Co-Coordinator Susan Spinella Sacks. "I think the success and impact of EarthFest is certainly a fitting tribute to the legacy of (Dr.) Jeff Featherstone, who helped make sustainable research and education such an essential part of Temple as a whole. EarthFest is again dedicated to the memory of Dr. Featherstone, whose vision, guidance and leadership helped create an outdoor, educational experience for the next generation of leaders.”
According to Spinella-Sacks, EarthFest is continuing to expand during the 2018-2019 school year.
"The need to share ideas about sustainability and protecting and preserving the environment with a wide audience is critical, now more than ever," she said. "In the coming year, Temple Ambler EarthFest will be hosting a variety of events, in addition to our main event in April, in partnership with the Ambler Arboretum and other partners designed to get people really thinking about the world around us." Visit our Community Events page to learn about our spring semester events!
The EarthFest main event will be held on the fields near Ambler’s large student parking lot on Meetinghouse Road and planning is well underway.
“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. “The Ambler Arboretum will be providing special tours in the campus gardens each hour exploring why “All Bugs Aren’t Bad,” which specifically relates to seventh-grade curriculum standards in the state. The program proved quite popular in 2018 and we hope to expand it at EarthFest 2019 for additional grades and a variety of topics!”
Temple University Ambler will also welcome many new schools to the event for their EarthFest experience.
“We think it is wonderful when schools find EarthFest for the first time and then keep coming back year after year. It’s an event that we specifically created for students and their teachers — education presented in a fun way that, hopefully, makes a lasting impression," she said. "Students will learn concepts at EarthFest that they’ve never learned before, ideas that they’ll then take home and share with their parents and friends — that’s where positive change starts. In 2018, we had more than 20 school exhibits as part of the event!”
Volunteering at EarthFest
EarthFest is one of the most successful and 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 about 5,500 visitors and more than 80 exhibits expected for 2019, the need for dedicated individuals to help visitors get the most out of their day is critical.
“As EarthFest continues to grow, so does the need for volunteers. Last year’s event could not have been successful without the help of students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members,” said Sacks. “We are hoping that we can count on previous volunteers returning and new volunteers participating for the first time. We have dozens of positions that we need to be filled, and several time options to choose from. This is a wonderful way to be a part of an event that helps educate thousands of students about the environment and the world around them.”
Volunteers have the opportunity to work at an information table, help out in the exhibitor lunch area, guide visitors through the event, and much more! Shifts include: 7 to 9:30 a.m. (set-up), 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., and 12 to 2:30 p.m. Bus Parking shifts include: 8:45 to 11:45 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“If you are interested in volunteering but can’t stay for a full shift, let us know what time you are available and we will make it work!” said Sacks. Volunteers get a free volunteer t-shirt “and a wonderfully fulfilling experience!” she added.
Exhibitors at EarthFest
In addition to extremely popular participants such as the Franklin Institute, Academy of Natural Sciences, Elmwood Park Zoo, Center for Aquatic Sciences at Adventure Aquarium, the Insectarium and FEMA, Temple University departments and student organizations form the backbone of our exhibitors.
Temple departments, from the Division of Architecture and Environmental Design to Temple’s Office of Sustainability, Recycling Department and Athletics share important information about the University, environmental stewardship and more.
Temple University Ambler student organizations, from the Landscape Architecture and Horticulture Association to Pi Alpha Xi, the honors society for horticulture students, also provide interactive exhibits that, while fun, teach important lessons to young visitors about recycling, protecting the environment, and preserving plants and animal habitats.
Temple University Ambler held its first campus-wide celebration of Earth Day on April 22, 2003. The inaugural “EarthFest” welcomed 40 exhibitors and 1,500 visitors — a great beginning for a new event celebrating sustainability and environmental stewardship.
EarthFest promotes environmental awareness using sustainable concepts, methods, and practices to protect and preserve our environment. Organizations, businesses, colleges, schools and individuals demonstrate sustainable concepts and technologies and provide interactive educational displays, activities and much more.
Would you like to suggest a school to invite to EarthFest? Contact Jim Duffy at 267-468-8108 or EarthFest@temple.edu.