What is The Friends of Poquessing?
The Friends of Poquessing Watershed is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1990 and coming up on its 25th anniversary.
The Friends of Poquessing Watershed (FOPW) is an all volunteer non-profit environmental group which is dedicated to the protection and enhancement of the Poquessing Creek Watershed. The Watershed, with a history dating back to the days of William Penn and his treaty with the Indians, is a 21 -square mile area which straddles Philadelphia and Bucks County. The Poquessing Creek starts in Bucks and Montgomery Counties, and provides the boundary between Philadelphia and Bensalem, Bucks County. It is fed by several tributaries such as Bloody Run, Elwoods Run, Wilsons Run, Waltons Run, Black Lake Run, and Byberry Creek before it empties into the Delaware River by the Glen Foerd mansion at Grant Avenue.
The FOPW was organized in early 1990 to:
- Create an awareness of and respect for the environmental importance of the Poquessing Creek, its tributaries and the entire Watershed
- Increase the awareness of the historical significance of the area
- Improve the water quality and the environmental conditions of the Creek and its wetlands
- Become a large, active educational voice in the community for the entire Poquessing Watershed
- Ultimately create a passive linear trail for walking and wildlife appreciation out of public land that borders the Poquessing Creek
- Promote an appreciation of the contributions of Doctor Benjamin Rush to the development of psychiatric care in the United States and to recognize his part in the founding of this country
- Preserve the integrity of the present boundaries of the Benjamin Rush State Park, and to promote its use as a nature and wildlife preserve
Utilizing resources from the William Penn Foundation and the Philadelphia Water Department, FOPW has been able to support three part-time positions to help increase volunteer monitoring capacity, build municipal support, and provide education and outreach programs to its watershed communities.
Robin Eisman, PhD, is the Monitoring Coordinator, a position supported by the William Penn Foundation. She is in the process of launching Poquessing Streamkeepers program, which will teach volunteers how to monitor stream conditions and understand the issues and concerns within the Watershed focusing on the headwater tributaries.
Nance Kerns will come on board soon as the Activities Coordinator and Membership Recruiter, a position supported by the Philadelphia Water Department. Nance has been active with The Friends of Pennypack Park where she has run their park cleanups for the last twelve years and has been successful in increasing the number of people stewarding the park.
Betsy Helsel is the Municipal Education and Outreach Coordinator, a position also supported by the William Penn Foundation. A short biography and Betsy’s aspirations for her FOPW position are as follows:
Betsy Helsel recently joined the FOPW team and will be focusing on outreach to municipalities.
Betsy brings with her almost 30 years of government affairs experience with a focus on environmental policy. She started her professional career working for as assistant and special project coordinator for former State Senator David Heckler. Betsy served twelve years as a Plumstead Township Supervisor working on open space programs, well and groundwater protection ordinances, and storm water management initiatives. Immediately before coming to the FOPW, Betsy worked on the largest petroleum contaminated Superfund Site on the east coast managing government and community affairs. As an independent environmental consultant, Betsy has designed and managed several community environmental programs and coordinated both grant activities and citizen education efforts to facilitate the program goals.
What do you look forward to the most in your position at The Friends of Poquessing?
I have spent the majority of last thirty years working with volunteer groups, environmental policy makers and community based environmentalists, but rarely have I seen so much accomplished by such a small all volunteer organization. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of the Friends of the Poquessing Watershed. This is a stand out group of remarkable and dedicated environmentalists. They have established a solid foundation of watershed protection and education efforts from which I hope to support them in stepping off of and strengthening their presence not only at the local level, but also as an effective partner at the regional level.