Senator Carolyn Comitta Partners with YMCA to Celebrate Sustainability in Chester County at Free Earth Day Festival

The event marks the 25th anniversary of environmental education at YGBW

(West Chester, PA) – As an organization focused on Healthy Living and Social Responsibility, the YMCA of Greater Brandywine (YGBW) welcomes the community to a free Earth Day Festival on April 22 at 10AM. The festival will be held on the 54-acre campus of the Upper Main Line YMCA (UMLY) – which includes an environmental & STEM education complex with over five miles of trails at the headwaters of Darby Creek.

The Earth Day Festival is free for all to attend and will feature family-friendly activities including recycled art, bird walks, canoeing, bird house building, tree-planting, stream studies, face painting and live music performed by Meadowlark, Em McKeever, and John Shirey. The event will also feature a vendor area highlighting environmentally focused businesses, organizations from around the state, and a food truck.

Prioritizing a Sustainable Future for Chester County
“We are proud to partner with Senator Carolyn Comitta to bring this caliber of an event to residents of Chester County,” said Denise Day, President and CEO of YGBW. “Given Senator Comitta’s service on the state Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and her commitment to prioritizing a sustainable future for Chester County, she is the ideal co-host for the Earth Day Festival.”

“Earth Day is about celebrating our environmental treasures, protecting our natural resources, and looking to the next generation. As leaders in environmental education and preparing our young people for the challenges of the future, YGBW and UMLY are the perfect partners for our Earth Day Festival,” said Comitta, who also serves as co-chair of the Pennsylvania Climate Caucus. “All are welcome to join us in celebrating Earth Day and learning more about what we can do today to ensure a safe, healthy, and sustainable tomorrow.”

25th Anniversary of Environmental Education
With a commitment to delivering quality STEM and environmental education to local youth, it is fitting that YGBW serve as the co-host for the Earth Day Festival. In addition to offering weekly STEM classes at locations throughout the county, YGBW provides an expanded catalog of related offerings at UMLY – where the organization’s environmental education program first launched 25 years ago.

On Earth Day 1998, a portfolio of environmental education classes and camps was introduced at UMLY - which continues to serve as a premier destination for environmental education 25 years later. UMLY hosts a variety of STEM and environmental summer camps, in addition to year-round programs, at their environmental & STEM education complex - which includes a nature center, raptor center, micro-farm and barnyard, STEM classrooms, watershed lab and a woodshop cottage. UMLY also offers a Zoo & STEM on Wheels program which brings learning to life in schools, libraries and senior centers across Chester County and beyond.

Graduates of UMLY’s environmental education program have gone on to become science teachers, civil and environmental engineers, wildlife biologists, ornithologists and more.

“Children who are engaged in outdoor activities and discovery in nature have healthier habits, are more focused in school and are just happier kids,” comments Brian Raicich, Executive Director at UMLY and founder of its environmental education program. “Instilling an appreciation of the great outdoors in our children develops our future environmental leaders. For 25 years, UMLY has provided those transformational experiences to our community.”

In honor of this anniversary, YGBW will give out 50 STEM classes beginning at 10 AM on April 22. Classes will take place in May and will be free for YGBW members and discounted by $24.99 for the community. 

55+ Year Commitment to Conservation
Not only has YGBW been a leading provider of environmental education for 25 years, but they have been committed to conservation for even longer. The first conservation easement in Pennsylvania was put in place in 1966 by Natural Lands – on the campus of UMLY. The agreement between Natural Lands and YGBW permanently protects the land from future development, thus preserving natural resources - including woodlands, wetlands, a meadow, stream, and a pond at the headwaters of Darby Creek.

“In 1966, Natural Lands partnered with the Upper Main Line YMCA to place a conservation easement on a portion of their campus to preserve it from development forever. This was the first use of this land protection tool in the state of Pennsylvania,” said Oliver Bass, president of Natural Lands. “The goal of this voluntary but legally binding conservation plan was to ‘preserve the fine woods and stream as a natural area for nature education and sanctuary purposes.’ Because of the foresight of the Upper Main Line YMCA’s stakeholders six decades ago, generations of kids and adults alike have enjoyed this space and will continue to do so in perpetuity.”

"We are proud to be a part of Pennsylvania’s conservation history with the state’s first conservation easement on our campus,” continues Raicich. “It has allowed UMLY to provide hands-on learning in nature and cements our ability to be the destination for environmental education for youth in Chester County for decades to come.”

In just the last five years, over 500 native trees have been planted to enhance the wildlife habitat, restore floodplain and increase the tree canopy on UMLY’s campus where over 130 species of birds have been observed and documented.

To learn more about the Earth Day Festival
To learn more about Senator Comitta’s Work in the Pennsylvania Legislature
To learn more about Environmental Education at YGBW
To learn more about Natural Lands

Category: Press