Parks

Explore Environmental Careers with EPA’s Park(ing) Day Parklet!

By Christina Catanese

One of the most rewarding parts about working in the environmental field is getting out of the office and having the chance to talk to people about what I do.  And getting to do it in a unique, creative way that inspires others to make a difference in our communities?  Even better.

EPA employees hard at work at our Park(ing) Day parklet - under construction!

EPA employees hard at work at our Park(ing) Day parklet – under construction!

This year, EPA Region 3 employees will present a Park(ing) Day site in Philadelphia, an event that embodies this unique blend of outreach and creativity in urban public spaces.

Park(ing) Day is a national event held on the third Friday in September.  This annual event converts metered parking spaces into temporary parklets throughout the city.  Park(ing) Day re-imagines the possibilities of 170 square feet of public space, celebrates parks and public spaces nationwide, and raises awareness of the need for more pedestrian-friendly spaces in urban areas.

I look forward to Park(ing) Day every year, because I can’t wait to see what people come up with in their mini-park displays.  I love seeing parks that use old or conventional materials in a new way.  Some advocate for a cause or particular issue, while others simply provide a place to sit, catch your breath, and watch the hustle and bustle of the city go by for a bit.  A number of my colleagues and I were so inspired by what we saw, we just had to join in for this year’s event.

EPA’s parklet will focus on highlighting the diversity of careers and people who pursue them in the environmental field, especially careers at EPA.  Our site uses a stylized form of a branching river to demonstrate the different paths an environmental career can take, as well as actions that people in any career can take to help protect the environment.

But I can’t give away too much… you’ll have to come see our parklet for yourself!  Find us at the southwest corner of 34th and Walnut Streets in West Philadelphia on Friday, September 20th between the hours of 8am and 4pm.  And check out this interactive map to find other parklets throughout the city!

Have you experienced Park(ing) Day in Philly, or somewhere else?  What other ways can we re-imagine our urban spaces?

About the Author: Christina Catanese has worked at EPA since 2010, in the Water Protection Division’s Office of Program Support. Originally from Pittsburgh, Christina has lived in Philadelphia since attending the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied Environmental Studies, Political Science, and Hydrogeology. When not in the office, Christina enjoys performing, choreographing and teaching modern dance.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Ozark Gems

By Tegan Vaughn

Are you still deciding whether or not to take a trip before the summer is over? There is no need to spend a lot or travel far to have a fabulous weekend getaway. I highly recommend exploring the Ozarks.

I grew up in the heart of the Ozarks, on a tributary to the Jacks Fork River.  To some folks, when I say I grew up in the Ozarks, their minds automatically go to party boats and Branson. Well, the places my mind wanders to when I think of home are the lush, green hills; the cool, clear streams; and the shade of towering Oaks. To me, an adventure in the Ozarks is worth 10 visits to any amusement park. Let me tell you about a few gems.

 

Photo Courtesy of Missouri State Parks

Photo Courtesy of Missouri State Parks

Speaking of adventure parks, the Ozarks has one carved by nature.  Johnson’s Shut-ins State Park is located in Reynolds County on the East Fork of the Black River. Water rushes over igneous rock that’s been smoothed by tumbling pebbles over the eons.  The Missouri State Park websites tempts potential travelers to come “shoot through Mother Nature’s hydraulics.” But not to worry, I can tell you from experience that it’s relatively safe.

 

Photo Courtesy of Missouri State Parks

Photo Courtesy of Missouri State Parks

Next on the list, and nearby to Johnson’s Shut-ins, is Elephant Rocks State Park. Here you’ll find large, reddish-pink granite boulders that resemble Dumbo. This park has a main trail that includes Braille for the visually impaired and many other places to explore if you want to get off the beaten path.

 

grandgulf

Photo Courtesy of Missouri State Parks

Grand Gulf State Park–Sometimes referred to as a “little Grand Canyon,” Grand Gulf is a mile long collapsed dolomite cave near Thayer, Missouri. The “walls” are more than 130 feet tall. Visitors at the top have quite the dramatic view.  When it rains, water drains into a cave at one end of Grand Gulf and ends up in Mammoth Springs, headwaters of Arkansas’ Spring River. http://www.mostateparks.com/park/grand-gulf-state-park

alleyspring

Photo Courtesy of the National Park Service

 Alley Spring – This charming three story mill was built in 1894 to utilize the free water power of Alley spring to turn wheat to flour. The water is an incredible blue green and emerges from deep in the earth with an average daily flow of 81 million gallons. Water from the spring flows to the Jacks Fork River.

 

roundspring

Photo is courtesy of www.current-river.com

Round Spring – This beautiful spring reminds me of a cenote. It is a brilliant turquoise blue. Every day, about 26 million gallons of water comes up from the earth (55 feet down from the surface of the pool), then flows under a natural bridge and out to the current river. Near the spring is Round Spring cave.  This cave is home to a bat maternity colony and beautiful cave formations. The cave is gated, but in the past, cave tours have been available in the summer months.

 

 

Photo Courtesy of www.ruralmissouri.org

Photo Courtesy of www.ruralmissouri.org

Rocky Falls – This dramatic destination is located near Eminence and Winona, Missouri.  The 40 ft. falls are made up of rhyolite, a reddish-purple igneous rock. Rocky Creek cuts its way through the rock and creates a rippling, merry cascade that falls down to a great swimming hole.

There is nothing like visiting the breathtaking places right in our back yard. Their beauty reminds me of why we at the EPA and our Federal, State, and local partners work hard to protect and preserve these treasures. I live in Kansas City now, but my heart will always live in the Ozark hills.

Tegan Vaughn has worked at EPA Region 7 for three years in the Policy and Management Division. She graduated from UMKC with a BA in Environmental Studies and Minors in Geography and Sustainability. She currently resides in Olathe, KS.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.