Guest blog by Tom McKeon of Rails to Trails

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) partnered with TTF in late August to teach a green stormwater infrastructure program to Lauretha Vaird Boys and Girls Club campers.  RTC and I enjoy collaborating with TTF because of their experience and knowledge of watersheds and watershed issues. This makes programming much more personable, fun and informative!

Lauretha Vaird Boys & Girls Club

The Boys and Girls Club honors Lauretha Vaird, who was the first Philadelphia policewoman killed in the line of duty. The Club is located on Whitaker Avenue across from one of Tacony Creek Park’s gateways. This is where we met a group of 24 young campers and started to travel along the Tacony Creek Trail through the park. Once within the shade cover of the forest, we sat together for introductions.

Lauretha Vaird Boys & Girls Club

Doryán De Angel, Community Watershed Leader and I introduced the concept of green infrastructure through visuals and instruction. We emphasized the importance of reducing and filtering stormwater runoff in Philadelphia. We talked about how in a natural environment, rain water is absorbed and filtered by soil and plants. Vegetation along stream banks slows and filters water, reducing pollution and erosion. I like to think of this as nature’s eyebrows. Eyebrows do a great job of buffering sweat from entering eyes — just like plants do a great job of buffering pollutants from waterways!

After the introduction, these young environmental engineers created their own best green infrastructure management practice to slow stormwater runoff — at a fun, small scale model. Everyone was given a cup with a hole in the bottom. The challenge was to use a limited set of supplies to slow the leak. The idea was not to create a clog, but rather slow down the flow enough so that water flows naturally — just like a natural system would act with rain water.

Lauretha Vaird Boys & Girls Club

Check out these mini-watersheds in action!

Lauretha Vaird Boys & Girls Club

For more photos, visit here! Interested in learning more about: Tacony Creek Park? Green stormwater infrastructure? Trails? Give us a call at 215-744-1853!

About Doryán De Angel

Doryán De Angel, Community Watershed Leader (Philadelphia): Doryán works with Robin on the Philadelphia watershed team to engage and educate residents about watershed and stormwater issues. A resident of Cheltenham, Doryan started with TTF as an outstanding hands-on volunteer. She is fluent in Spanish and has a Bachelors in Environmental Science from the University of Puerto Rico. She was a student collaborator on the San Juan Bay Estuary Project. Contact Doryán at 215.744.1853 or


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