Meet Jennifer, TTF’s newest intern & bird lover

Emilie Wetzel
Apr 2, 2018

Hi, My name is Jennifer Lafty and I am TTF’s newest intern! While looking into different ways I could get involved in local environmental councils, park programs, and other accessible areas of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, I found the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership.

Spending a lot of time in Philadelphia parks and having a hands-on opportunity to constructively help out sounded very exciting to me. Being part of a Biology Club at Frankford High School, taking an interest in bird watching, and keeping up with current events led me to take the first step.

I’ve been eager to start my internship because many of the events TTF holds throughout the year sound like a very good fit for me. Bird walks, backyard garden workshops, and park clean-ups are all types of events I would love to help out with anyway I can.

My focus is in Ornithology and bird watching, so anytime I spend outside is beneficial to my own work, too. Before working with TTF, I spent about 12+ hours a week bird watching on my own and collecting data for eBird. Spending so much time in the habitat hundreds of species of birds call their home made me more conscious of the small variables that can affect that.

Climate change, invasive plant/insect species, litter, and illegal dumping are all challenges wildlife face everyday. Without people who volunteer to help out this cause, the species we take for granted may no longer be able to survive in their natural habitats. Animals have adapted to their urban environments in amazing ways, but without constant monitoring and close attention by us, a place may no longer be a suitable environment. Making Philadelphia an even more welcoming place for birds and even bringing back species that have not been sighted in recent years due to habitat changes is a long term goal for me.

Aside from visiting parks for birdwatching, I am also an independent filmmaker. On many occasions I’ve brought my camera into a field to film landscapes and surrounding wildlife. Besides uploading my art online, I submit to local open video calls and sometimes public access television. Combining my interest in ecology and video art recently has taught me a lot about the real intentions of my work and my own relationship with the environment.

During the short period of time I’ve been at TTF so far, I’ve learned so much more about Philadelphia’s water system. Living in the city my whole life, I’ve already seen TTF storm drain markers around and did not know much about them. Having an understanding of how important the small everyday decisions we make to our water system, I want to do so much better in my own life. All forms of habitat restoration, conservation effort, and science education are really interesting and important to me. Since I’ve started my internship, I’ve enjoyed working with the iNaturalist app and I am really looking forward to TTF’s Bioblitzes happening on Saturday, April 28.

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