April 30, 2012
Cold winds didn’t chill the spirits of more than 10,000 visitors that spent the day celebrating the Earth at Temple University Ambler’s EarthFest 2012 on April 27.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with how EarthFest turned out this year. While the weather presented a few challenges for us, 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. “For each event, we try to learn from and improve upon previous years. This year, for the first time, all of our exhibitors and (EarthFest partner) the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Junior Flower were held entirely on campus — often the Flower Show was held in fields across from the center of campus — forming a loop of exhibitors and activities. This circle of activity was very well received and I think greatly contributed to our success this year.”
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 more than 10,000 visitors and well over 90 exhibits for 2012, EarthFest takes a veritable army of volunteers to be successful each year. With the changes to the location and time of EarthFest 2012, the need for dedicated individuals to help visitors get their most out of their day was all the more urgent, according to EarthFest Volunteer Coordinator Rachel Berger.
“With this year’s changes, there were a lot of questions and a lot of people — both visitors and exhibitors — who needed a little help navigating the event. Our volunteers — students, faculty, staff, and community members — were excellent ambassadors for Temple at EarthFest,” she said. “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. (EarthFest sponsor) New York Life, for example, had nearly two dozen volunteers participate this year.”
In a letter to the campus community, William Parshall, Executive Director of Temple University Ambler, and Teresa Scott Soufas, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, offered special thanks “to the numerous individuals and groups who participated in myriad ways to ensure that EarthFest 2012, our 10th 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 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — which had veritable “village” of exhibits at EarthFest 2012 — pulled out all the stops in sharing interactive messages supporting EarthFest’s theme of “sustaining our communities.”
“Events such as EarthFest are wonderful opportunities for the EPA to interact directly with the citizens we serve. These events give us a chance to not only share information but to listen to what’s important to families, students and educators — this helps us to shape our future communications,” said U.S. EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Director Shawn M. Garvin, who helped to kick-off Main Stage activities at EarthFest 2012. “EarthFest provides a unique opportunity to raise awareness on important issues that affect families in their homes, school and at work. With so many students attending, our participation helps EPA reach out to the next generation with information that will help them carry on the vital work of protecting public health and the environment.”
Temple University departments and student organizations also help form the backbone of EarthFest exhibitors each year. 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 2012, Upper Dublin High School had a remarkable total of 10 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 whole experience even more.”
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.
The mission of EarthFest is to promote 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.
In 2004, the Ambler Campus partnered with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) for the first time. PHS’s Junior Flower Show has became an integral part of EarthFest ever since.
EarthFest 2012 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, Teva Pharmaceuticals, the Township of Upper Dublin and Waste Management. Media sponsors for 2012 were Montgomery Media and 6-ABC with Meteorologist Melissa Magee serving as Main Stage emcee for her third year.
“Nowhere else do you have the ability to connect with thousands of students who are eager to listen. There is a critical need to inspire the next generation of scientists; we need that next generation to take up the call,” said Barbara Del Duke, Dow’s Public Affairs Manager for the Northeast. “EarthFest is, in essence, a giant classroom that brings what teachers are doing in the classroom into the real world where students experience new concepts and grow their knowledge base in a fun, friendly environment.”
For more information about EarthFest, visit www.ambler.temple.edu/earthfest.