In March, I began my fellowship with the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy (PPC) and really hit the ground running. My work varies greatly from one day to next, which has kept things interesting and engaging. The PPC hosts volunteer events of varying size, scope and aim in the 4 largest regional parks (Frick, Highland, Schenley and Riverview) and several smaller parks around the city. E-mails and phone calls from individuals and groups looking to volunteer are directed to me so that I can set up events based on their needs. This month, I coordinated 7 of these events where I planned and communicated with volunteers and crew leaders, secured tools, supplies, food and drink, managed sign-in and tracking, directed volunteers and actively participated in ecological restoration projects. For the Panther Hollow Extravaganza, the PPC’s largest volunteer event (which will hopefully exceed 300 volunteers), many of those tasks are being handled and organized by me.
I have also taken part in planning and facilitating the Urban EcoSteward (UES) program, by attending meetings, fielding inquiries and applications, helping to lead training sessions and updating paperwork. I am the point person for the High School UES program at Westinghouse which meets twice weekly, where I’m responsible for organizing and running meetings between the partners, adapting and presenting curriculum, creating schedules, analyzing and planning stewardship projects, leading sessions, tracking progress and ensuring overall success of the program. We are partnering with the Lighthouse afterschool program, which focuses on audiovisual art and service learning. This particular HUES group is an experimental combination of ecological stewardship, environmental education and artistic expression. In addition to the UES and HUES groups, I assist Marijke with aspects of the Elementary Habitat Explorer programs, and generally make myself useful where I can. I hope to continue this in the coming months as I better understand the operations of the Parks Conservancy and my place in the organization.