Campus to Mark Earth Day 2017 with Festival, Lectures, Green Commuting

ED commute

Sustainability and the formal launch of the School of Earth and Sustainability (SES) mark campus-related events on and around the celebration of Earth Day 2017.

The official date of Earth Day, April 22, falls on a Saturday this year, so the campus’s Earth Day Festival 2017 will be celebrated on Friday, April 21 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on the Student Union North Lawn.

The festival will feature more than 30 student, faculty, staff and community groups showcasing some of the things they are doing to make the community more environmentally, economically, and socially just. In addition, the Farmer’s Market will be under the Earth Day tent.

New this year is the UMass Amherst Green Commute Day. In partnership with the Faculty Senate Health Committee and MassRIDES “Try it Day” campaign, the event is meant to encourage students, faculty and staff to try an alternative to driving alone to campus on April 21 by either biking, walking, carpooling or taking transit.

Commuters will be asked to log their green commute in the free MassRIDES NuRides online tool that helps find carpool matches and provides rewards for greener trips. MassRIDES will be signing UMass Amherst community members up for the green commute for three weeks leading up to Earth Day in the Campus Center Concourse.

Commuters and the entire campus community are invited to come the Earth Day tent on the Student Union North Lawn from 8-10 a.m. before the Earth Day Festival begins to grab their free coffee and donuts and participate in the Green Commute Day Sustainable Transportation Fair which will feature Campus Planning, Transportation and Parking Services, UMass Amherst Transit, ZipCar and Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Sustainable UMass.

Also at the festival in front of the Earth Day tent at 2 p.m., there will be a student performance art piece by “The Mourner.”  This cautionary tale presents a dystopian future based on current trends in climate change, waste, pollution and other factors.

On Saturday, April 22, there will be an official satellite of the March for Science in Washington D.C., locally when campus scientists and supporters will march at 10 a.m. from Amherst’s Kendrick Park to the Town Common to join the Amherst Sustainability Festival.

There will be a main demonstration tent for real-world science talks and demonstrations as local scientists lead fun and exciting “teach-ins” offer activities and information.

Local groups are also traveling to the national march as well as a march on Boston Common.

On Wednesday, April 19, the School of Earth and Sustainability marks its official launch with events in the Design Building Atrium. The program includes a student showcase from 10-30-11:30 a.m.; keynote speakers from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.; and graduate student lightning talks from 1:30-3:30 p.m.

SES is a cross-disciplinary partnership between the departments of environmental conservation, geosciences, landscape architecture and regional planning, Stockbridge School of Agriculture, and the environmental microbiology group from the department of microbiology.

Also on Wednesday, April 19, Paul K. Barten will deliver the 2017 Daffodil Lecture: “Taking the Road Less Traveled to a Sustainable Future” at 6:30 p.m. in the Campus Center Auditorium.

Drawing upon his scientific and natural resource management training, many years of professional experience, and an abiding concern for the future, Barten will discuss what he sees as the greatest conservation and sustainability challenge of our day: confusion and complacency about climate change.

Barten has been a member of the faculty of the department of environmental conservation since 1997. His research interests and teaching portfolio includes forest and wetland hydrology, sustainable forest management, environmental history, and Native American and indigenous studies.

The Talking Truth Series continues on April 19 at 7 p.m. in 2601 Du Bois Library with “Finding Work with Meaning in the Anthropocene.”

Gain insights into your personal journey toward forward-thinking work in sustainable living and community building within the fields of education, entrepreneurialism and green building with Ofer Sharone, assistant professor of sociology; Sara Schley, co-founder of the sustainable consulting firm Seed Systems; Ezra Small, UMass Amherst Sustainability Manager; Sarah Hebert, Trinity Solar employee; and John Fabel, building and construction technology adjunct faculty member.

Now in its second year, the series is organized by Talking Truth: Finding Your Voice Around the Climate Crisis, a collaborative community comprised of UMass Amherst students, faculty, nd staff working together to integrate the intellectual, emotional and spiritual dimensions of climate change. 

On Friday and Saturday, April 21-22, UMass Extension, the UMass Waugh Arboretum and Eversource are sponsoring an Earth Day and Arbor Day celebration with renowned tree expert Michael Dirr.

The event is a fundraiser for the arboretum, which includes thousands of trees on campus.

Dirr, who earned his Ph.D at UMass Amherst, is the author of seven books, including the widely used “Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture and Propagation and Uses.”

On Friday, April 21, Dirr will speak on “The Origins of New Shade and Ornamental Trees: The Roles of Serendipity and Breeding” at 2 p.m. in 170 Design Building. A book signing and a tour of the Design Building’s water management gardens will follow at 3:30 p.m.

On Saturday, April 22, Dirr will conduct a tree walk and talk combined with a tour of the new Utility Arboretum.

On Saturday at 1 p.m., a memorial tree will be planted at the Durfee Conservatory in honor of the late Gordon King, professor emeritus of arboriculture and park management.

Pre-registration is required for the Tree Walk & Talk and the Utility Arboriculture presentation. The memorial tree planting is free and open to the public.

For details of fees and registration information, visit

Other events on April 21 include Pollinator Planting from 9:30-11:00 a.m. at the Franklin Permaculture Garden. Beautiful, fragrant, and beneficial plants will be added to the pollinator sections and herb spiral