Students improve the urban ecosystem

Temple students cleaned up a section of Tacony Creek Park as part of Tyler Landscape Architecture and Horticulture course on improving and sustaining urban ecosystems

Students clean up Philadelphia’s Tacony Creek Park as part of Tyler’s Landscape Architecture and Horticulture course Green vs. Gray: Improving and Sustaining Urban Ecosystems

 

Students of Temple and the Tyler School of Art came together in Philadelphia’s Tacony Creek Park in late March for a cleanup event as part of Tyler’s Landscape Architecture and Horticulture course Green vs. Gray: Improving and Sustaining Urban Ecosystems

Like most Tyler Landscape Architecture and Horticulture courses, Green vs. Gray blends art and science, hands-on learning and projects that reflect and address modern environmental concerns in an urban context. 

“It was a lot of fun,” said Meara Kuhfahl, a sophomore speech therapy major, who participated in the Tacony Creek Park cleanup with her fiancée James Maguire, a senior media studies and production major. “We plan on doing another event.”

Organized by Temple Director of Sustainability Kathleen Grady, the group collected several hundred pounds of trash and other discarded items. The idea was to prepare the park for seasonal use by residents of nearby neighborhoods—who often have very limited access to usable green space—as well as to clean it for an upcoming “fun run” event.

“The focus was on keeping [the park] pristine and keeping it a natural area and healthy for wildlife and for aquatic life in the creek. That’s really important,” said Bess Wellborn Yates, an adjunct professor in Landscape Architecture and Horticulture who teaches Green vs. Gray. “In the class, we look at urban ecological issues and how we can take part in helping to solve some of those issues and problems we see in an urban environment that are related to soil health, water health and water quality. We try to engage in community-based practices, so students are getting out there and really trying to experience what we’re talking about in class.”

Yates said that since she began teaching the course in 2010, she’s seen a considerable increase in the amount of environmentally focused events around the city, making the experiential learning portion of the course easier for students to find and engage in.

Kuhfahl agreed that Green vs. Gray and the Tacony Creek Park cleanup event has enhanced her perspective. She urges other students to also take the class.

“I’ve learned different ways I can contribute to the wellbeing of the environment,” Kuhfahl said. “You can make a difference as a student to help your local community.”

 

Post by Morgan Zalot
Photo by Temple University Photography/Joseph V. Labolito