April 29, 2013
Bright spring sunshine helped welcome more than 7,000 visitors for a day of celebrating the Earth at Temple University Ambler’s EarthFest 2013 on April 26.
“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, who is also Assistant Director of event host the Center for Sustainable Communities (CSC). “Seeing all of our exhibitors and (EarthFest partner) the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Junior Flower together on campus interacting with our visitors is so exciting to see and experience.”
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 90 exhibits for 2013, EarthFest takes a veritable army of volunteers to be successful each year, according to EarthFest Volunteer Coordinator Rachel Berger.
“Our volunteers — students, faculty, staff, and community members — were excellent ambassadors for Temple at EarthFest. We had more community volunteers than ever before, which I think shows how important the event has become in the region — people want to be a part of this special day,” she said. “We were honored to have (Temple University) President Theobald join us and help kick off our Main Stage festivities. The support from the College of Liberal Arts and School of Environmental Design, as always, was examplary this year — we were thrilled to have CSC Director Jeff Featherstone; CLA and SED Dean Teresa Soufas; and Ambler Campus Executive Director Bill Parshall welcome our visitors.”
In a letter to the campus community, William Parshall and Teresa Soufas offered special thanks “to the numerous individuals and groups who participated in myriad ways to ensure that EarthFest 2013, our 11th annual celebration of Earth Day, was a success.”
“We are proud to acknowledge community engagement as one of the core values of Ambler, and we are pleased that EarthFest provides an important opportunity to celebrate this aspect of Ambler’s academic mission,” they said.
In addition to extremely popular returning exhibitors such as the Philadelphia Zoo, Franklin Institute, Academy of Natural Sciences, Elmwood Park Zoo, and Wondergy, 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.”
“At our booth, we wanted to have students learn what the acronym FEMA stands for — who we are and how we help communities both after a disaster and before one so they are better prepared and have reduced their risk. We handed out emergency communication plans and explained that every family should have a plan on how they will get in touch and be safe in an emergency,” said Mari Radford, Mitigation Planner for FEMA’s Region III, which includes Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Delaware, West Virginia and Virginia. “We also modeled two flooding scenarios and showed where development was both good and bad. Even the littlest kids could see the difference between a straight channel and a meandering stream and could predict which one would carry the water faster. Our hope is that when EarthFest exhibitors headed home that afternoon — and in the weeks following — they look a little more closely at structures near the water and think about their flood risk.”
Temple University departments and student organizations also help form the backbone of EarthFest exhibitors each year. Participating Temple departments included the Office of Sustainability and Bike Temple, Temple Athletics, Temple University Ambler Bookstore, Temple University Center for Obesity Research and Education (CORE), Temple University Computer Recycling Center, Temple University Dining Services/Sodexo, Temple University Infant and Child Laboratory and the Temple University Recycling Department.
Area schools additionally become part of the event by sharing projects and research taking place in their classrooms.
“We’ve managed to incorporate EarthFest into our curriculum and created a project-based learning experience for some of our students,” said teacher Upper Dublin High School environmental science teacher Judy Winship. “It’s been very successful — the students learn a lot about their chosen topics and enjoy teaching community members.”
At EarthFest 2013, Upper Dublin High School had a remarkable total of 11 exhibits.
“Many of our students remember attending EarthFest when they were in elementary and middle school, so their experience really began years ago,” said fellow Upper Dublin High School teacher Erin Loch. “For the most part, the project starts out as a fun, hands-on way to learn about a topic. Once our teams have been at EarthFest exhibiting, they get a sense of the whole purpose and end up really enjoying the experience even more.”
EarthFest 2013 sponsors included Dow Chemical Company, Air Quality Partners - Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the Ellis A. Gimbel Trust, Janet and Lew Klein, New York Life Insurance Company, PECO Energy, the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association, Quality Plus Ford Stores, the Township of Upper Dublin and Waste Management. Media sponsors for 2013 were Montgomery Media and 6-ABC with Meteorologist Melissa Magee serving as Main Stage emcee for her fourth year.
“EarthFest provides a tremendous opportunity for Dow to connect with students and educators from throughout the Delaware Valley who are eager to listen, learn and make a difference. Dow employees and the futuristic H.H. Dowbot had fun engaging students and educators in hands-on activities that encouraged everyone to be curious,” said Justin Land, Dow’s Northeast Public Affairs Manager. “While EarthFest was a success, the goal of educating, beautifying, and creating a more sustainable planet must continue.”
EarthFest, Land said, is a “significant strategic partnership for us to make science hands-on and accessible to thousands of students while building on the rich history of innovation and sustainability in the region.”
“We see EarthFest as a mini job fair for future Dow scientists to solve world challenges. Revitalizing STEM education and increasing the number of students who choose STEM majors and careers is imperative for our industry and economy,” he said. “As a leading corporate citizen in this region for more than 100 years, it’s not only good business for all of us, but it’s imperative to enhancing the communities we call home.”
For more information about EarthFest, visit www.ambler.temple.edu/earthfest.