As the sun sets on another year, it's time to reflect on the incredible journey we've had at the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy. 2023 was a year of growth, gratitude, and greenery, and none of it would have been possible without the unwavering support of our donors, the dedication of our volunteers, and the enthusiasm of our park guests. Our passionate Conservancy staff members pour their hearts into making an impact on the life of each park visitor. Read below as we reflect on some of our accomplishments from this year.
Volunteers: The Heartbeat of Our Parks
Our parks thrive because of the incredible individuals who give their time, energy, and passion to preserving and enhancing these natural sanctuaries. To our volunteers and community partners, you are the heartbeat of our parks, and we are endlessly grateful for the hours you've dedicated to planting, cleaning, and maintaining these beautiful landscapes. Volunteers this year have planted over 100 restoration trees in Riverview Park and 200 in Frick Park's Clayton Hill deer exclosure. They also removed thousands of invasive plants and vines from the tree canopy and understory of Hays Woods Park!
Naturalist Educators: Empowering Young Minds
Our Education Department has had a remarkable year, reaching new milestones as they empower young minds and foster a love for nature. From engaging school programs to informative community workshops, our educators have played a pivotal role in creating a deeper understanding of the importance of preserving and cherishing our parks. Approximately 1,100 students were served through environmental education programs and our team inspires these future park stewards through various initiatives such as our Young Naturalist Internship Program, Summer Camp, collaborative educational partnerships with local schools, and public programming. We also welcomed a new Director of Education and the Frick Environmental Center this year, with a focus on making environmental education accessible for every child.
Horticulture and Forestry: Planting Hope for the Future
The green thumb of our team, the Horticulture and Forestry Department has worked tirelessly to ensure that our parks remain lush, vibrant, and welcoming. Through thoughtful planting, careful pruning, and strategic maintenance, they've transformed our parks into true urban oases. Some of their work this year has included flower, shrub, bulb, and tree plantings in Flagstaff Hill, August Wilson Park, and Schenley Plaza. Their enthusiasm and warm smiles make every park visit a pleasure!
Community Engagement: Fostering Connections
Our Community Engagement Team is the bridge between the Parks Conservancy and the people. Through various outreach programs, events, and collaborations, they've strengthened the bond between the community and our parks. This year, they've facilitated open dialogues, gathered valuable feedback, and ensured that the community remains an integral part of our decision-making process. Additionally, outreach in the Homewood community focused on spearheading a community taskforce around the Baxter Park Improvement Plan, in support of the Equitable Investment Strategy. The Conservancy, the City of Pittsburgh, and We the People of 412 partnered together to throw a Fall Festival event which was a beautiful way to celebrate the space and envision its potential.
Restoration Projects: Breathing New Life Into Our Parks
From revitalizing historic landmarks to rehabilitating natural habitats, our capital projects have breathed new life into our parks. This year, not only has Hays Woods become an official city park, but we hired an Ecological Restoration Coordinator to manage the conservation efforts of that space, which includes invasive species management and the introduction of stewardship days. Giving the community the opportunity to lend a hand and care for this urban forest ensures that community members have pride in taking care of their parks. We also completed upgrades of the Mellon Park Walled Garden area and made considerate progress on the North Promenade Restoration Project in the Allegheny Commons, which is nearing completion just in time for the New Year.