From Temple University, Ambler:
How do you celebrate Earth Day while reaching out to students, teachers, and residents in a way that will excite them about sustaining their communities and “going green?”
In 2003, Temple University Ambler administrators and faculty presented the answer to that question on a grand scale, developing an outdoor, educational celebration of Earth Day that attracts thousands of visitors each year — EarthFest. EarthFest 2012, hosted by the Center for Sustainable Communities in partnership with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, will be held on Friday, April 27, from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., rain or shine.
“This will be our 10th annual EarthFest celebration,” said EarthFest Coordinator Susan Spinella Sacks. “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.”
EarthFest began as an idea “to help raise awareness for environmental stewardship with young people,” said Dr. Jeffrey Featherstone, Director of the Center for Sustainable Communities and one of EarthFest’s founders.
“There really hadn’t been anything like this event in the region for quite some time,” he said. “As home to the Center for Sustainable Communities, the Ambler Arboretum, and the School of Environmental Design, we felt that Temple University Ambler had the resources to start something special. EarthFest has become one of the largest celebrations of Earth Day on the East Coast and we strive every year to make it an even better experience for our visitors.”
Visitors to EarthFest 2012 will find some key changes from previous years.
“For the first time, EarthFest will be held entirely on the campus side of Meetinghouse Road. We believe this will help the event become more cohesive,” said Spinella Sacks. “We will also keep the event going for an hour longer this year to accommodate visitors and families that might visit EarthFest later in the day.”
EarthFest invites students, teachers, and parents to learn from more than 90 exhibitors including the Academy of Natural Sciences, Sesame Place, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Park Service, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Insectarium and dozens of others.
“We are enormously pleased with the growth and support that EarthFest has enjoyed over the years,” said Temple University College of Liberal Arts Dean Teresa Scott Soufas. “We hope that all of our visitors take this unique opportunity to learn about and interact with our exhibitors and learn what they can do to help protect and preserve the planet for today and tomorrow.”
Temple University Ambler’s core values include “community engagement and hands-on, student-centered learning,” said William Parshall, Executive Director of Temple University Ambler.
“Our primary goal with EarthFest will always be education that is presented in a meaningful way,” he said. “I can’t think of a better combination of community engagement and hands-on education that has practical applications than EarthFest.”
Partnering in EarthFest - Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
For the ninth year in a row, Temple University Ambler’s key partner in presenting EarthFest is the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS). PHS’s Junior Flower Show — which includes educational exhibits, service learning projects, and competitive classes — is an integral part of the event each year. The theme for the 2012 Junior Flower Show is “H2O: How to Grow.”
“The Junior Flower Show gives students a way to express themselves while discovering the beauty of the natural world,” said Narducci.
Temple University at EarthFest
Temple departments are well represented at EarthFest, with participation from the Center for Sustainable Communities, the Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture, the Department of Community and Regional Planning, the Office of Sustainability, the University Recycling Department, and more. New this year, Bike Temple and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia will provide a special “bike valet” service near the Ambler Campus Learning Center for any EarthFest visitors biking to the event for the day.
Exhibitors at EarthFest 2012
At EarthFest, more than 90 exhibitors, ranging from non-profit watershed groups to for-profit businesses and school groups, will present their ideas, projects, and initiatives in new and intriguing ways.
In addition to our exhibitors, Main Stage programming will include interactive, informative features by the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia Zoo, Wondergy, and the Elmwood Park Zoo, in addition to a special presentation honoring several of our exhibitors who have been with us since the beginning, awards presented by the Delaware Valley Planning Commissions Air Quality Partnership and the presentation of the Junior Flower Show Awards.
Schools at EarthFest - Learning Through Interaction
Schools from throughout the area not only visit EarthFest, they also have the opportunity to share their own exhibits, exploring concepts as diverse as watershed clean-up and tree planting to the study of global warming and recycling.
According to Spinella Sacks, the students that visit the event each year do the “real work” of preserving the planet for theirs and future generations.
“While we are able to bring a diverse group of students, educators, and exhibitors together each year to celebrate a common cause, students at schools throughout the region are teaching their peers — and in many cases their parents — how they can ensure sustainable communities,” she said. “EarthFest plants the seed. It’s the students that will make it grow.”
Each year, Temple University Ambler and the Center for Sustainable Communities present the “Commitment to Sustainability” Award to a school, student organization, or educator that has shown an exemplary commitment to the environment and environmental stewardship through educational programs, events, and grassroots initiatives. The 2012 recipient is the Wordsworth Interact Club at Wordsworth Fort Washington.
“Everybody is thrilled and proud to be receiving this award! We love EarthFest and we’ve been happy to be able to grow our presence at the event year after year,” said Steve Bass, Wordsworth Transition Specialist, who advises the Wordsworth Interact Club along with Emery Lawrence and Russ Davenport. “For EarthFest 2012, the students, led by Chris Perkins, have come up with a project called ‘Plastic Planet Savers.’ The idea is to take plastic bottles and make them into planters — students visiting the exhibit will go from station to station through the seeding and watering process and they will be provided with growing instructions. It’s a hands-on project that is instantly accessible.”
Bass said the 20-member Interact Club is involved in community-oriented projects throughout the year.
“It’s about getting out there and doing something for others; about learning how you can get involved through your career or your community and really pitch in,” he said.
Temple University Ambler, a respected innovator in research and education in social, economic, and environmental studies, delivers high-quality undergraduate, graduate, and non-credit programs that meet the needs of the region and provide a rewarding experience for students of all ages.
For more information about EarthFest 2012, visit www.ambler.temple.edu/earthfest.