PHILADELPHIA — “All of us are here together for a reason,” said honoree Roy Gordon of the Philadelphia Water Department.
Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership (TTF) celebrated watershed heroes for the eleventh year at its Annual Watershed Milestones Ceremony on October 19. The ceremony recognized local individuals and organizations who have supported clean water efforts in the TTF watershed community. Honorees have joined a community of more than 100 people, organizations, institutions, and businesses that have been honored for improving the health of the impaired 30-square-mile watershed they share.
Roy Gordon was honored with the Public Leader Award for being a committed Philadelphia Water Department Flow Control Unit employee, who values and shares the importance of his role in protecting Philadelphia’s waterways. In the summer of 2022, as TTF was leading a tour of Tacony Creek Park for Power Corps PHL Ranger apprentices, Roy greeted the group and explained the purpose and function of the Rock Run inflatable rubber dam, which blocks T9, a combined sewer outfall (CSO), during heavy rains. His enthusiasm and knowledge were inspiring and helped apprentices understand CSOs and what steps can be taken to reduce pollution.
Frank and Betty Coyle received the Friend Award for their dedication as Tacony Creek Park Keepers, who diligently share information about Tacony Creek Park with the Philadelphia community and help at park clean-ups.
Devin Green received the Friend Award for his passion as a Bennett Compost employee who has brought incredible energy to Bennett’s weekly cleanups in Tacony Creek Park.
Rachel Zibelman-LeSuer was honored with the Educator Award for serving as an enthusiastic TTF partner as a teacher at Juniata Park Academy. She informs her students and families about Tacony Creek Park programs and opportunities for engagement, helping to ensure that the vision for the park reflects the interests and ideas of local youth.
Pixel Parlor, a woman-owned multi-disciplinary design studio and Certified B Corp received the Corporate Steward Award for its critical role in creating beautiful TTF branding and materials, strengthening the impact of TTF storytelling.
Stroud Water Research Center was awarded the Nonprofit Steward Award for its contribution to TTF’s creek monitoring as a part of the Streamkeepers and Green Stormwater Infrastructure projects in and around Jenkintown Creek. With Stroud’s expertise, TTF revamped its Save Our Streams from Road Salt fact sheet to include local stream data to better explain the harmful impacts of too much chloride. Their assistance enabled TTF to show that salt levels were still shockingly high in the spring, a critical time in the life cycles of fish, amphibians, and other wildlife reliant on clean water.
V.U.R.T Creative was honored as Nonprofit Steward for creating a well-loved art landscape in Tacony Creek Park. “Most people in conservation work so hard at a mission with constant obstacles in their way. As creatives, we can lend a little bit of our support in letting everyone know what [TTF] is doing by creating art that helps support their mission and goals. This project is one of those things that lets us do that with many other organizations, so thank you for the inspiration,” said Evan Lovett of VURT at the ceremony.
Lovett designed a Great Blue Heron wrap for Creekforce 1, TTF’s van, and created four huge murals of birds under the Whitaker Avenue bridge along the Tacony Creek Park Trail in 2019. The van serves as a traveling billboard as TTF drives staff, volunteers, trees, and shovels across the 30-square-mile watershed. The four bird murals — a Great Blue Heron, Peregrine Falcon, White Breasted Nuthatch, and Belted Kingfisher — have welcomed and inspired thousands of park visitors. Over the years, the team has returned to host programs in the park, as well as to remove tagging and refresh these beautiful murals.
Ian Capacio was awarded the Youth Champion Award for being an exceptional TTF intern. He filled seed packets with three pounds of Plains Coreopsis seeds for watershed residents, so that community members will be able to beautify their yards with native plants for years to come. His attention to detail, meticulousness, diligence and good humor were appreciated by the TTF Team.
“I like being able to give people the knowledge and power to walk into their own land,” commented MyKyah Vessels, Legacy Award winner. While serving as an Alliance for Watershed Education of the Delaware River Fellow in the Summer of 2021, MyKyah shared knowledge and enthusiasm for nature with Tacony Creek Park neighbors by leading foraging walks discussing edible wild plants, and creating a printed foraging guide as a community resource.
The Legacy Award is an honor for someone who “we feel has really made a significant difference in moving us forward with this work. They’ve done a lot of work, made a difference, connected with people, and make us feel like we’re getting somewhere. MyKyah brought together a community of people interested in edible and wild plants, and inspired them through her research, knowledge, and kindness,” stated Julie Slavet, TTF Executive Director. MyKyah has continued to be part of the TTF team, leading programs and assisting at community events. The knowledge that MyKyah has shared about nature and edible plants connects and ignites passion in park neighbors.
TTF also honored its Partner Alliance at the ceremony.
TTF connects watershed residents to their creeks. Through hands-on education,
stewardship, restoration, and advocacy, TTF empowers watershed constituents to take care of and improve the impaired waterways, parks, and trails across its 30 square miles. Working with neighbors, TTF has planted thousands of native trees, shrubs, and flowers along creeks and in rain gardens at schools, parks, places of worship, and even backyards to slow down and clean pollution before it enters creeks. TTF uses lots of tools to share a love for water and nature with people of all ages and to show how we can all make a difference.