TTF recognizes 2023 Watershed Milestones Honorees & Accomplishments!

We are only able to achieve the hard work of enriching and maintaining the TTF watershed with the help of our exemplary watershed heroes. This year, for our 12th Annual Watershed Milestones we are proud to recognize ten honorees! 

Friend: Eric Blacksten
Educator: Izaak Walton League
Volunteer Leader: ASCE Younger Members
Nonprofit Steward: Feliz Filadelfia
Corporate Steward: EY
Public Leader: James Morawski
Youth Champion: Drini Hamza
Youth Champion: Jermaine Ridley
Legacy: Susan Myerov
Legacy: Jay Coreano

Read on to learn about how our 2023 TTF Watershed Milestones award winners make a positive change in the TTF watershed!

Friend: Eric Blacksten

Eric Blacksten sees things that need repair, and gets it done. He is a Tacony Creek Park neighbor and uses the trail to visit the park and commute to and from work. The benches in the park have been in disrepair for decades. Eric asked us if he could fix them and of course we said yes. On his own and with the help of staff and volunteers, he spent some Saturdays making these benches usable. Over and over, park visitors have shared that they’d like places to sit down, rest, and enjoy nature. Eric made this possible in the park north of Roosevelt Boulevard. Do you want to work with him on his next project idea?

Educator: Izaak Walton League

The Izaak Walton League has been an extraordinary champion and defender of the nation’s soil, air, woods, waters, and wildlife for over 100 years. Through member-driven bottom-up governance, the League protects the outdoors in communities across the country, while working strategically at the national level to win critical conservation battles. As the only organization training, equipping, and coordinating water quality volunteers to ensure our water is safe on a national scale, the League has provided us with exemplary Salt Watch tools, support, and training to measure road salt in our streams and to educate neighbors and leaders about this threat. Our Salt Watch volunteers have participated in annual Salt Blitzes since 2019, enabling us to share information through a Road Salt Factsheet and testimony at a Philadelphia City Council hearing.

Volunteer Leader: ASCE Younger Member Forum

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) was founded in 1852 to represent members of the civil engineering profession worldwide. The ASCE Philadelphia Younger Member Forum (YMF) is an organization for ASCE Philadelphia Section members under 36 years of age. The YMF serves as a bridge between college students, recent graduates, and other young engineering professionals and provides networking opportunities, interaction with schools and the general public to promote civil engineering, and enhances career development. 

The YMF has been a valuable stewardship partner, bringing volunteers to numerous tree planting and maintenance events across our watershed. These folks have enthusiastically dug holes, and planted and fenced trees across our watershed, from the Friends Hospital Campus in Frankford to a residential backyard in Abington. They have also supported us financially, which is critical to our efforts. We consider ASCE YMF a long-term BFF!

Nonprofit Steward: Feliz Filadelfia

Feliz Filadelphia began in 2015 as “Born To Play,” a baseball program for the youth of the Olney neighborhood. With the renovation of the abandoned clubhouse at the Hammond Avenue fields (adjacent to Tacony Creek Park) completed in 2021, they expanded their original mission of providing recreation for local youth by adding exercise programs for adults as well as youth. Although maintaining its Latino roots, Feliz Filadelfia offers programming for everyone. Likewise, Feliz Filadelfia, while focusing on the Olney neighborhood, welcomes participants from throughout the city.

We have come to know Feliz Filadelphia through their support for our cleanups and sharing our park program information, as well as their model stewardship of the Hammond fields.  They keep the field and clubhouse clean and have enhanced it with a community garden (and a Little Library, with our assistance). We would like to replicate their stewardship across our watershed and look forward to partnering with them even more, on environmental education programs and creating a link between the fields and Tacony Creek Park.  We’re committed to collaborating with Feliz Filadelphia to make Olney and the City of Philadelphia better places to live.

Corporate Steward: EY

EY, formerly Ernst & Young, is one of the biggest accounting firms in the U.S., providing professional services for international companies, including auditing, assurance, consulting, tax, and business investment. In 2022, an employee in their Philadelphia office contacted us to ask about bringing a group to volunteer on Earth Day. We have been so proud to work with EY employees on a number of clean-up and storm drain marking activities since then. They are enthusiastic, happy to work hard and get dirty! We always look forward to hosting EY, and to continuing our partnership for many years.

Public Leader: James Morawski, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation

James Morawski, or Jimmy to many of us, has been a Seasonal Maintenance Attendant at the Ferko Playground and the area leading to the Tacony Creek Park gateway at I Street and Ramona Avenue for many years. Trash is Jimmy’s nemesis, from cigarette butts to beer bottles and everything in between. Jimmy takes incredible pride in his work, and the cleanliness of the park reflects that. He should be a model for every Philadelphia employee – when he has finished his work, the park is spotless. He makes this park, neighborhood, and city a better place to live. He is a true public leader!

Youth Champion: Drini Hamza

Drini Hamza, an Abington Friends School (AFS) senior, removed deer fencing and invasive plants at TTF’s very first restoration project along Jenkintown Creek as his Eagle Scout service project.

AFS was our first Delaware River Watershed Initiative project, back in 2014! Our award-winning work with AFS and the Meeting continued along this creek reach for a number of years, as we created rain gardens and riparian buffers, to filter and slow down runoff into the creek, cool the creek, and create habitat. As with all of our project sites, we continue to visit, monitor, maintain, and partner with our collaborators in any way we can.

Drini saw the need for maintenance at this site and connected with us to develop a plan and gather the information and resources needed. He recruited volunteers from AFS, his friends, troop, and family and led the fence and invasive removal activities. The Eagle Scout service project is a crucial step every Scout must take in their journey to the Eagle Rank, a rank achieved by only 4% of all scouts across the country. The service project is designed as a way to put a Scout’s leadership and ability to serve their community to the test – we are so proud that this special clean water site was the focus of Drini’s Eagle Scout experience!

Youth Champion: Jermaine Ripley

Jermaine Ripley is a consistent volunteer, who shows up when we need him most, and works hard to help us keep the park and gateways clean and appealing to potential visitors. He is willing to tackle any task we ask him to handle, and inspires other volunteers to keep going! We look forward to working with him as a steward on lots of improvements for many years.  

Legacy: Sue Myerov

A founding Board member, Sue enthusiastically served for 18 years, most as Secretary, and a couple as President and Co-President.  When we looked through our Flickr albums to find photos of Sue, there were so many! Why? Because Sue consistently did the most important thing a Board member can do – she showed up! She rarely missed a Board or committee meeting or a TTF special event and lent a hand and smile at plantings, cleanups, and our creative, fun community celebrations. Her presence had a positive impact on staff and strengthened her ability to serve as a knowledgeable Ambassador.

And she did serve as an exemplary Ambassador! Sue talked to everyone in Abington, her community, and in her professional life with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council about our accomplishments. She referred organizations to us for many reasons, to speak at an event or conference, or to discuss a potential partnership. She shared grant and program information with us regularly. She generously supported us, and recruited family and friends to do so, too!

Sue knows the TTF bylaws inside and out. She was diligent about the accuracy of Board meeting minutes. Sue also asks a lot of questions, about finances and programs, and staff needs. She is concerned about fiscal stability and professional development. That’s what Board members are supposed to do. A deep dive into financials at a Board meeting is a sign of good stewardship. 

Each December, Sue gave a gift to each staff member to show her thanks for the year. Her thoughtfulness meant a great deal. Sue’s serious investment in TTF over the years has made us a better organization and that is why we are proud to present her with a Legacy award.

Legacy: Jay Coreano

Jay Coreano and his family – his wife, children, and cousins – are part of the TTF family. Since we first met Jay during the summer of 2019, when we selected him as the artist for our Community Cans project, he has inspired us with his creativity, warmth, curiosity, and passion. He has become a Tacony Creek Park champion in his family, with his employer and work colleagues, with the business and artist community, and with anyone he meets in the park.

The Community Cans project was a major success, as was our next collaboration, Love Our Park. During the summer of COVID, Jay painted six strikingly colorful animal murals at busy spots along the trail. He engaged with everyone who passed by. He enabled TTF to maintain a human presence in the park when we were unable to bring people together. Through this work, he created places for people to gather and raised up this neglected green space through art. People still “meet at the deer” at Bingham and Ashdale Streets. He conceived of and coordinated our annual Birds of a Feather Earth Day art event to celebrate our VURT Collective bird murals in Tacony Creek Park. He led the River Alive Learning Trail mosaic community days and created beautiful rain poetry on the walkways. 

We recently installed six of the Community Cans in Tacony Creek Park – the first trash cans in the park in many years. Jay volunteered his time to create new colorful and inspiring can covers. We think these are the most beautiful trash cans in Philadelphia! Jay deserves a Legacy award because of his devotion to our work and Tacony Creek Park.   

Want to celebrate with our honorees on Wednesday, October 18 at our Watershed Milestones Award Ceremony & Silent Auction, at the iconic Globe Dye Works?

Find more information and get your ticket here!

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