By Shawn Green, FOW Volunteer Manager
It was a long, hot, humid summer in the Wissahickon. This season is always the busiest in the park, with many people wanting to escape the city and cool off in the shade of the Wissahickon Valley. Fortunately, our amazing volunteers balanced the scales rocked by the impact of the increased number of park users.
FOW’s regular volunteer service days occur on most Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings. These events attract a wide variety of individuals, whose love for the park inspire them to brave the summer heat and make a positive impact. On these days, we cut back invasive plants, cleared drains along Forbidden Drive, beautified trailheads, removed litter, cleaned out stormwater infrastructure, improved the trail system in Houston Meadow, and cleaned up several historic landmarks and picnic areas. Whew! Our volunteer service days are open to anyone who wants to show some love for the park. Find a day that works for you and register to attend on FOW’s events calendar.
One of the biggest volunteer service days of the season took place during the hugely successful Leave No Trace Hot Spot Weekend. From July 23 to 25, FOW organized multiple workshops, hikes, and service projects with the amazing traveling educators from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. On Saturday, July 24, 47 volunteers performed a huge cleanup in the wider Valley Green area, removing 46 bags of trash from the forest and Wissahickon Creek.
So far, 2021 has been FOW’s biggest year for corporate group service projects. This summer alone, eight groups participated, including Victrex, Baker Tilly, Boston Consulting Group, Willis Tower Watson, Integrated Project Services, Thomas Jefferson University, ZS Associates, and Xylem Inc. Along with providing financial support to FOW, these groups helped us maintain planting sites, remove invasive plant species, clear trail corridors, remove litter, and much more! If you are interested in organizing a private service day for your company or organization, learn more here.
FOW also salutes the work of the specialized volunteer corps, which continues to be the backbone of our volunteer programming. In addition to leading all the volunteer service days, the mighty Crew Leaders have been working in small groups to clear the corridors and sight lines on trails throughout the park, as well as making improvements to the Orange Trail and stormwater infrastructure in the Blue Bell Park area. Our long-running Structures Crew is back in full force, meeting every Tuesday morning to make repairs to fences, signs, bridge handrails, and other man-made structures in the park. Bird box monitors are wrapping up their checks on the habitat boxes in Andorra and Houston Meadows for this year’s nesting season, and we’re excited to dig through the data they collected. Our trained Trail Ambassadors (TAs) have been keeping their eyes on the park and providing outreach to park users at outreach tables, during hiking shifts, and at larger volunteer service days. And at long last, the popular TA-led Guided Walks have returned, with a variety of themed excursions in the park for which you can view and register for on the events calendar!