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Youth #GOALS: 2019 Delaware River Fellows Build Urban Farm Directories, Fight Litter & More During Summer Program

Youth #GOALS: 2019 Delaware River Fellows Build Urban Farm Directories, Fight Litter & More During Summer Program

The twenty-three fellows, hosted by centers in the Alliance for Watershed Education, shared projects to create a directory of urban farms, lessons for school groups, creating innovative ways to encourage park visitors to clean up litter, or tracking and eliminating invasive species.

This past Friday, twenty-three people from a variety of backgrounds in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania came together to present what they had learned from a summer spent working at one of the Alliance for Watershed Education’s (AWE) centers at Fairmount Park’s Discovery Center. They were the third group of Delaware River Fellows to graduate since the inaugural program began in 2017.

The 12-week, paid program is designed to give young people the opportunity to explore career opportunities in the fields of biology, environmental science, social work, non-profit work, and communications. It is run through AWE and funded by The William Penn Foundation.

The twenty-three centers that hosted the fellows are located along Circuit Trails or major connecting trails throughout the Delaware River watershed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. The centers aim to collectively increase and enhance constituent appreciation and stewardship of the watershed. The 2019 fellows spent their summer learning, participating in, and leading a diverse range of activities at their particular center, including guided trail hikes, public education, and habitat restoration.

Friday’s gathering gave the fellows the chance to showcase their individual research projects. These projects covered an equally diverse mix of topics, all related to sustainability, such as designing lesson plans for school groups, creating innovative ways to encourage park visitors to clean up litter, or tracking and eliminating invasive species.

Geré Johnson, a returning fellow who spent this summer at Fairmount Water Works, used her Capstone Summit to build a directory of sustainable urban farms and gardens, particularly black- and brown-owned operations.

Drew Atkerson, who was both the 2018 and 2019 Fellow for Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Education Center in West Philly, devoted his Capstone Summit to the planning and construction of trail exercise equipment. His research included visiting other sites in Pennsylvania and Virginia to learn about the materials and costs used to build exercise stations in parks.

Two other fellows, Ivana Quinones and Taylor Melodick-Robinson, combined their efforts on rain gardens and rain barrels to create an interactive diorama showing the benefit of rainwater management. They built a model of three rowhouses, each of which had a yard. Water could then be poured onto the houses’ roofs, where it either ran onto the lawn and then straight into the city’s streets or sewers, into a rain barrel where it was stored for later use in watering plants or washing the household’s car, or into a rain garden. The rain garden model had a sponge beneath the yard, showing how plant roots could store rainwater instead of letting it flood into the city’s streets or sewers.

The diorama is used for public education programs to help residents understand the importance of rainwater management. Ivana is the 2019 fellow for the Center for Aquatic Sciences at Adventure Aquarium, while Taylor is the fellow for the New Jersey Natural Lands Trust at Petty’s Island.

The gathering was held in East Fairmount Park’s Discovery Center, which opened in 2018. The center serves as the base of operations for the Philadelphia Outward Bound School, as well as a facility for research, science-based conservation projects, and educational programs for the National Audubon Society.

Want to learn more about the Alliance for Watershed Education and their centers?

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Madeleine Jones, who goes by her last name, is the Editorial Intern at Green Philly. She is new to Philadelphia and recently graduated from Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, with a bachelor's in Environmental Studies and International Studies. Jones spends her free time with her nose buried in books, sampling Philly's vegan restaurants, fawning over her pet mouse, and filling out job applications. View all posts by Jones
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