Explore, Enjoy, and Engage with the Alliance for Watershed Education

When I was in fifth grade, I spent three days in the forests of the Pocono Mountains with my class hiking the trails, kayaking, orienteering, identifying birds and critters around the pond (and, as expected, engaging in the typical drama that ensues when sharing a cabin with seven other ten-year-olds). We were hosted by the Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC), and it was one of my first and most memorable immersive experiences in nature.

My experience at PEEC, along with many others that I’ve had over the years - from exploring the woods behind my suburban NJ backyard and rowing on the local lake with friends, to hikes, bike rides, and kayak trips as an adult through the rivers and parks of Philadelphia (where I now live) - has driven home for me the importance of access to experiences in nature. Being in nature has been shown to enhance mental health and wellbeing, and biking a trail or taking a stroll in the park can also improve physical fitness. Oftentimes, nature can bring people together in new ways, as I’ve witnessed firsthand. These positive experiences should be available to everyone - all races and ethnicities, ages, and communities, whether urban, suburban, or rural - and they are not possible without a healthy environment.

Organizations like PEEC do not serve only as providers of fun outdoor experiences; they also play a critical role in building appreciation and stewardship of our land and rivers. With water quality as a key Foundation priority, we support the efforts of PEEC and many other environmental centers to bolster support for clean water in the Delaware River watershed through engaging on-water experiences. Building this base of supporters for our watershed is now more important than ever, as many policy goals of the President and Congress aim to dismantle funding and regulations that currently protect this invaluable resource, which provides for safe and enjoyable recreation, habitat for wildlife, and potable drinking water.

This week, 23 environmental education centers, all independently managing programs that highlight the value of clean water in their local communities, have joined to form a network supported by the Foundation: the Alliance for Watershed Education of the Delaware River. Together, they will continue to provide opportunities for people across the watershed to explore, enjoy, and engage with their local rivers and streams, and their combined efforts will grow and deepen regional support and positive action on behalf of the Delaware River watershed for years to come. Read more about the Alliance here.