We are excited to welcome a new addition to the Fairmount Park Conservancy team: Amanda Daws Cohen, our Park Program Specialist! Amanda joined the Conservancy in May 2022. In her role as Park Program Specialist, Amanda works to develop and implement public programs throughout the park system.
Prior to joining the Conservancy, Amanda spent over a decade working in environmental education at various zoos and nature centers throughout the country. Most recently she worked as the Manager of Public Programs at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education where she oversaw the center’s summer camp program as well as all large and small-scale events and festivals.
You may see Amanda around Philly’s parks or at one of our upcoming events. Until then, get to know her a little better via the Q&A below.
Why do parks matter to you?
I’ve always loved learning about and being in nature, and for me, parks were really part of that initial connection I had to the outside world. I also love how vibrant they are. You can go to any park in the city and see people from various walks of life partaking in a whole slew of activities. They’re places where everyone comes together — and for free.
What compelled you to join Fairmount Park Conservancy in your new role?
I have worked in environmental education for my whole career, and a big part of environmental education is connecting people to the outdoors — often through programming. I can’t really think of a better place to do that than the Fairmount Parks Conservancy. Other places I have worked have been very place-based with program participants having to come to you. With the Conservancy though it’s different. Since the park system is so expansive, you can really meet people where they are a little more. I’m really excited for that.
Why are parks important to communities?
Parks are so valuable. They’re places for people to gather and places that communities often take pride in. Green spaces are also important tools in mitigating the effects of climate change — from soaking up stormwater to cooling the neighborhoods they’re in.
What gets you most excited about your role at Fairmount Park Conservancy?
Even though I live in Philadelphia, there are still so many parks I haven’t explored. We have an incredible park system, and I’m eager to explore it more. I’m also excited to build programming connections with people and organizations throughout the city. There are so many people in Philly, especially in the environmental world, doing amazing things. I look forward to being able to work with and learn from them.
What’s one thing you’d want to encourage park visitors to do (or not do!) for their parks?
Attend a program or volunteer at your closest park! It’s almost a guarantee that you’ll learn something new.
What is your favorite park in Philly?
West Fairmount Park — but more specifically MLK Drive when it’s closed to traffic. I run there pretty regularly and love the mix of city and nature. It’s always busy and there’s beautiful views of the city, but at the same time you’re immersed in greenery and it’s really peaceful. Forbidden Drive in the Wissahickon would be a close second.
Share something interesting about yourself?
I was a distance runner through high school and college and continue to run still. I don’t know if running sparked my love of nature or if it was the other way around, but either way, the two are definitely very connected for me. Even on days when I end up spending a good amount of time behind a desk, going out for a run is my guaranteed outside time. 🙂