Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Honored with Pennsylvania Governor’s Award of Environmental Excellence

The nonprofit’s 2023 Young Naturalist program is one of only 22 recipients statewide to receive the prestigious honor in environmental leadership.

PITTSBURGH – APRIL 18, 2024 – The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy proudly announces that its Young Naturalist program has been awarded the prestigious 2024 Pennsylvania Governor’s Award of Environmental Excellence by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The program was recognized among 22 outstanding projects completed by schools, businesses, and community organizations across the state.

The Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence, administered by the DEP, acknowledge initiatives demonstrating exemplary efforts in environmental protection, innovation, partnership, economic impact, consideration of climate change, sustainability, and environmental justice.

The 2023 iteration of the Young Naturalist Program epitomized these values by providing paid student internships aimed at fostering education, professional development, and service-learning through environmental stewardship. Participating students engaged in comprehensive projects aimed at enacting lasting positive changes within Pittsburgh’s parks system.

Throughout the program, the Young Naturalist participants demonstrated their dedication and commitment to environmental stewardship by planning and executing various projects, including the installation of water bars, bluebird nest boxes, and erosion control measures in Frick Park, among other impactful initiatives. These projects contributed to the preservation and enhancement of Pittsburgh's parks and served as invaluable learning experiences for the participants.

"It's an honor leading the Young Naturalist program and encouraging young people—many of whom are historically excluded from the sciences and outdoors—to embrace their curiosity for the natural world," Ellen Conrad, Naturalist Educator at the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and Young Naturalist Program Leader explained. "We love being a part of students' journey as they realize the many wonders of nature, fostering hobbies, careers, and a lifelong appreciation for the things that make our earth beautiful, diverse, and invaluable."

The Parks Conservancy extends its gratitude to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for this esteemed recognition and reaffirms its dedication to fostering environmental stewardship and conservation efforts within the Pittsburgh community and beyond.

"We are thrilled and deeply honored to receive the 2024 Pennsylvania Governor's Award of Environmental Excellence for our Young Naturalist program," said Catherine Qureshi, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy. This recognition underscores our organization's collective efforts and the commitment of our Young Naturalists to environmental stewardship and community engagement. We are immensely proud of their achievements and look forward to continuing our work to create a more sustainable and resilient future for our parks and communities."

For more information about the Parks Conservancy and its programs, please visit www.pittsburghparks.org.


Alana Wenk

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy




Caroline Constantine

Pipitone Group




About Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy: 
The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy was founded in December 1996 by a group of citizens concerned with the deteriorating conditions of Pittsburgh’s historic city parks. A non-profit organization, the Parks Conservancy works closely with the City of Pittsburgh under an official public-private partnership agreement to restore and improve the city’s park system to its full potential. To date, the Parks Conservancy has raised nearly $130 million and completed 22 major park improvement projects. The Parks Conservancy works with thousands of volunteers and provides programming for more than 7,500 children annually.