The U-M squirrels will have to share the limelight with a barred owl on Sept. 17 when all things related to sustainability at the university take over the Diag for EarthFest.

This year’s event includes free food, information booths, games, giveaways and live entertainment by Ann Arbor singer-song writer Chris Good.

As part of the celebration, Planet Blue is hosting a social media contest for staff, faculty and students on Facebook and Twitter with the chance to win sustainability prizes. Event attendees also have the opportunity to enter a raffle to win an Apple iPad.

“EarthFest is a great opportunity for students to connect with sustainability groups and find ways they can live on Planet Blue,” said Barb Hagan, sustainability representative in the Office of Campus Sustainability.

“Our commitment to reducing our environmental footprint needs the support and engagement of our students, staff and faculty.”

The event will run 10 a.m.-2 p.m., and will focus on U-M sustainability efforts in four areas: climate action, waste prevention, healthy environments and community awareness.

Each focus area will include a combination of informed representatives from campus departments, student organizations and the local community available to answer questions. More than 40 sustainability-related groups and organizations will be at the event including the Campus Farm, ITS Sustainable Computing and Sustainability Without Borders.

“It’s exciting to be a part of an event that has the ability to foster so much change in student involvement and spread the importance of sustainability in a refreshing, innovative way,” said Madelyn Grant, one of the event organizers and a senior in the School of Music Theatre & Dance.

“The more students that are aware and active in environmental issues while they attend U of M, the more adults that will enter the work force with a sustainability influenced mindset.”

Event highlights include:

• MHealthy chef demonstrations using local ingredients.

• An opportunity to make a photo pledge to sustainability.

• Free, local snacks such as apples and doughnuts from Washtenaw Dairy.

• Opportunity to enter to win basketball signed by Coach John Beilein.

EarthFest is organized by students and staff led by the Office of Campus Sustainability.  The event strives to be zero-waste, and supports the university’s broader sustainability initiative known as Planet Blue.

U-M has been celebrating the planet for nearly 20 years.  At EarthFest 2011, the university strengthened its sustainability commitment with the announcement of a $14 million investment toward ambitious environmental goals.

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