STAC’s Earth Day Celebration a Huge Success


Andrew Dacuba, Editor in Chief

STAC’s front lawn, normally quiet on a Saturday afternoon, came alive last weekend with crowds, food, drink, and music for the campus’ Earth Day celebration.

The festivities ran from 12:00 to 6:00 PM and drew students, faculty, and local residents alike to take part in the fun.

The event featured over 55 different booths, food trucks, and attractions where attendees could support local businesses, learn about the Earth, or enjoy a meal. Many of the organizations represented are concerned with the environment.

Shane O’Flaherty, owner of a business called Roughhouse Salvage, makes woodworking products all out of reclaimed wood. At his booth he sold flags, catchall boxes, and planters, but at his main business makes even larger items like tables and kitchen islands.

O’Flaherty talked about the importance of staying environmentally friendly in his craftsmanship, saying, “It’s all natural stuff, there’s hardly any chemicals, I don’t stain anything [with chemicals]… so it’s nice to be part of doing something good for the Earth.”

At her booth, Shari Gold represented Violia, a local water company in Rockland County.

Gold manages Violia’s conservation rebate program. “We offer rebates to customers for upgrading their home water fixtures with more water-efficient appliances,” she explained.

Violia thought it was important that the company be represented at Earth Day. 

“We’re an environmental organization, we’re not just a water company, and it’s important for us to promote conservation and environmental sustainability,” Gold said.

While lots of the booths were environmentally concerned, the celebration drew enough interest to attract organizations not typically concerned with the environment, such as Retro Fitness, Liberty Mutual, and the Rockland County Sheriff’s Office.

Officer Driscoll is part of the community relations team for the Police Division of the Sheriff’s Office. The goal of his booth was to warn about the danger of phone scams, as well as to answer any questions about what the Sheriff’s Office does, the programs they run, and their employment opportunities.

“It’s great to see all the different types of clubs,” Driscoll said about the fair. “I saw the mental health club was here which is huge for, especially, college students.”

For those inclined, there were also some more hands-on activities between the booths. While the inflatable corn maze and bounce castle were popular attractions for the event’s younger guests, there was certainly something for all ages.

Many of the attendees could be seen snapping a photo with Regina, the reticulated python, slithering over their shoulders. The snake was brought by New Jersey Snake Man, an educational outreach group in the tristate area.

Guyre and his snake (Image credit: Andrew Dacuba)

“We always talk about conservation, how humans can affect the environment… and what we can do to change it,” Christian Guyre of New Jersey Snake Man explained.

Guyre was happy to see the crowd’s interest in this message. “Everyone’s asking for pictures, asking to learn more about the snakes. Great turnout, good community,” he said.

Next to New Jersey Snake Man was a less natural creature, Electra the robot, built by Tappan Zee High School Robotics Team.

Trying to catch the ball that Electra could launch into the air was a fun hands-on activity, but it was also a way to get younger kids interested in STEM.

“We really like providing STEM education throughout the community [and] this was a great opportunity to do so,” said team member Chris.

Many of STAC’s very own students and faculty were represented at the fair as well. Student organizations including the Science Club, Mental Health Club, and Education Club had their own booths. 

Inside the Romano Center, STAC honors students taking Dr. Bianca Wentzell’s course on Current Environmental Issues gave lectures on the importance of recycling.

Dr. Wentzell herself manned a booth on plant biology, which is what her expertise is in.

She said she had “everyone from small children asking about different rings on the tree trunks to adults asking questions about plants in their yards” at her booth. 

“I always love talking about plants so it’s really been great today talking with everyone about it,” Wentzell said.

Having been part of STAC’s first Earth Day event last year, Wentzell says this year’s event was absolutely an improvement.

“We definitely have grown since last year, we have even more vendors, even more excitement, and a lot of energy around everything we’re doing here, so I think the momentum’s going to continue to grow,” she said.

Wentzell also emphasized how it was the students that made this all happen. “It’s really important to us that this is a student led and organized event,” she said.

The Earth Day Celebration was the result of a semesters’ worth of work by the students in Professor Angela McDonnell’s Event Planning and Management Course. Since January, students have worked to plan out the whole event, coordinating with the many vendors, food trucks, and environmental organizations.

The idea of a STAC Earth Day celebration came about long before January, however. 

In 2021, after Professor McDonnell and her students put on the Winter Wonderland Family Festival, STAC President Ken Daly asked her if she could organize another event for Earth Day.

This was how 2022’s Earth Day Celebration came about, on somewhat of a short notice.

“And, so last year, we had 1 food truck who didn’t turn up and we had about 15 organizations,” Professor McDonnell said.

“This year, we have 12 food trucks and we have an absolutely packed lawn,” Professor McDonnell continued, noting how far the event had come in just a year.

Sean McDonnell, a student in the Event Planning and Management Course, was just as happy with the results.

“It’s been a good time, a super group effort, everyone in our class… we’ve been working really hard, it really does just pin together really nicely,” he said.

“I was at Winter Wonderland last semester, it was rainy that day so it wasn’t as exciting as this or as packed as this,” Sean McDonnell added.

Planning out Earth Day was not without challenge, however.

“The biggest challenge was the fact that I only have 2 classes a week,” Professor McDonnell stated. 

“So I’m asking these students to do a lot of extra work outside the class time, and really when the students sign up to do this class, that’s part of the requirement,” she said.

For instance, Professor McDonnell recalled how her and one of her students spent weekends outside of class attending different events to get vendors on board for Earth Day.

But all the effort paid off; everyone The Thoma spoke to agreed this was an extremely successful, fun, and educational Earth Day event, and it is thanks to the students.

“What’s been really important about today is that you really see the students shine, that’s what makes my day,” Professor McDonnell said.

“The students are extraordinary. STEM students, school of business students, and honors students, and they have excelled in everything I’ve given them to do. So what I like most about today is that I see the community on our campus, I see we’re getting exposure, and I see students shine.”