STEM Founders 'Planted the Seeds' for Open Space Activism

Save the Environment of Moorestown will celebrate its 40th anniversary at the annual Open Space Festival Sunday at Strawbridge Lake.

The founders of STEM (Save the Environment of Moorestown) have been trailblazing, literally and figuratively, for 40 years now.

STEM president Kathy Huffman reflected on the group’s influence earlier this week, ahead of its annual Open Space Festival Sunday.

Huffman said the women who founded STEM “planted the seeds” for Moorestown’s continued interest in open space preservation and laid the groundwork for the creation of later environmental groups and committees, like the Open Space Advisory Committee and Sustainable Moorestown.

“The ladies who started this organization are just incredible,” said Huffman, noting the group’s involvement in the preservation of Stokes Hill and other properties over the years. “All of this is a culmination of their influence.”

One of those founders, Kay Smith, said the reason STEM has persisted after all these years is, “There’s still the same concerns (today that) there were in the beginning. People are concerned with making the town a sustainable kind of town.”

Fortunately, the establishment of those other environmentally friendly groups took some of the pressure off STEM, Smith said. “In the beginning, for the first 20 years, we did a lot of technical stuff. Now, over the last 20 years, we’re focusing on trying to introduce people to open space, and celebrate open space.”

The group’s annual Open Space Festival—also known as “STEM Steps Out”—is one of the ways they achieve that awareness, she said. “We just want people to know there’s places they can go and enjoy the outdoors without going very far.”

The festival will feature a fishing contest, farmer's markets, face painting, crafts and canoe rides, as well as a bird release, among other activities. The winner’s of the STEM Photo Contest will also be on display.

“Anything that gets people outside and away from their computers, it’s just good for the soul,” said STEM member Schuyler McClain. “It’s just a .”

The event goes from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at Strawbridge Lake Park, on Kings Highway. Admission is free (though donations are appreciated). For more information, contact wjf3@verizon.net or call 856-642-7864, or visit STEM’s website at www.stemonline.org.

Anyone interested in volunteering with STEM should contact Huffman at 856-778-2201.

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