Earth Day celebrations came to Jamestown Community College two days early this year, as the college hosted its annual Earthfest celebration on Wednesday.
According to Jan Bowman, JCC professor, Earth Awareness Club adviser and event organizer, Earthfest has been a JCC tradition for more than 20 years, and every year it seems to get bigger.
"It really grows every year, so I never know exactly what to expect," Bowman said. "And this year was great. From the entertainment, to the local business and organization participation, to the student and community-member turnout, it was a success."
Jeff Musial of Nickel City Reptiles and Exotics presents his pet cougar, named Nala, to a room full of students and community members who came out to support Jamestown Community College’s Earthfest on Wednesday.
P-J?photo by Chad Gustafson
Bowman said that the purpose of Earthfest is to raise awareness and educate students and the community about the importance of the environment and its preservation.
"Earthfest is all about promoting enhanced knowledge of today's most important environmental issues, as well as promoting action that can be taken throughout the local community," Bowman said.
The event was held inside the college's Hamilton Collegiate Center due to bad weather.
Bowman said that though the event is traditionally held outside, the change in scenery had little to no effect on the event, which included musical entertainment from local musician Matt Maloof and an animal show from Jeff Musial of Nickel City Reptiles and Exotics.
"This is an important event," Bowman said, "because people can come for entertainment, but they're also surrounded by resources they may not have known about. The Roger Tory Peterson Institute, the Jamestown Audubon Society and many others were all here today to talk with people."
The event also provides a venue for local businesses like Mike's Nursery, Wildheart Unlimited, Amtilia Outreach and Topotees, to sell their products, while organizations like the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, the Department of Environmental Conservation and the JCC Sustainability Committee network with each other and Earthfest attendees.
"It's neat to get all of these vendors and educational displays," Bowman said. "Often they meet here, and start to network, so the event is valuable in that way too."
The theme of this year's Earthfest was the forest and forest preservation, and it was chosen because the United Nations named 2011 the International Year of the Forest.
"We picked forests as our focus this year because the U.N. declared this year the Year of the Forest," Bowman said. "We try to follow in the international theme to drive the point home to people that this isn't just a local celebration and concern. It's all over the world, and we're a part of it."
The JCC Earth Awareness Club is the main sponsor and organizer of the event, and during Earthfest, the club had its own booth set up with a tree seedling adoption, thanks to the Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District, and the club also had several different fairly traded products for sale, with all proceeds going directly to organizations that are helping to preserve the area's forests. Those organizations include The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy's Last Mile Campaign, the Allegheny Defense Project, the Rainforest Conservation Fund's Rainforest Corridor Program in Sri Lanka, and the Chautauqua County Humane Society.