A Tribute to Stream Superhero Tammy Shepherd – Protector of a Local Tributary
Tammy Shepherd’s superhero strength is mobilizing the neighbors in her Rockville, Maryland community to get outside and engage in nature with the goal of improved health…their own, and that of the local Rockcrest Stream Tributary. To say that Tammy is involved is an understatement. She puts the ‘ist’ into everything she does. Tammy is an activist, naturalist, and environmentalist, and these are just her personal interests. When ANS met up with Tammy last May she was wearing all three hats during the Earth Mother’s Day Clean Stream event she organized for her neighborhood. This event was Tammy’s Capstone Project for the Anacostia Watershed Academy which she completed over the winter. She described the Earth Mother’s Day Clean Stream event as “a community engagement opportunity to raise awareness about stream health, non-native plants and how the environment we live in can have an impact on our overall health, fitness and wellness.” Tammy went on to say, “I want to get community members outside and physically active planting native gardens and spending time in nature which can improve physical and mental health.” The event brought families, and Cub Scouts from local Troop #817 together to clean-up trash in the stream and remove non-native invasive plants along the banks. Before heading over to the stream, participants listened to brief presentations by Vaugh Perry, Adult Education Director for the Anacostia Watershed Society; Benjamin Alexandro, Water Policy Advocate for Maryland League of Conservation Voters; Chuck Woolery, Weed Warrior, Montgomery Parks, representatives from Circle of Rights, Inc., and Leslie McDermott, Communications Manager for Communities for Clean Streams, Audubon Naturalist Society. ANS volunteer Frank Sanford was on-hand to teach participants how to monitor the stream’s health using the Creek Critters app to identify macro-invertebrates living in the stream. Only certain macro-invertebrates (or creek critters) can live in healthy water. Thanks to Tammy and her community’s on-going efforts the stream’s health is showing signs of great improvement. We asked Tammy what motivates her to be so involved and she said, “I have been a naturalist for as long as I can remember, and for 22 years I have lived adjacent to the Rockcrest stream and have cared for the natural environment around me. In 2009, I learned about non-native invasive plants and began removing garlic mustard from my property and the stream. In October 2014, I became a volunteer Stream Steward with the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection. In 2015, I became a volunteer Weed Warrior against non-native invasive plants, via Montgomery Parks.” It was at this same time, she decided to adopt Section 10 of the Rockcrest Tributary, via the City of Rockville’s Adopt-a-Stream Program. Rockcrest Tributary flows into Rock Creek, a tributary to the Potomac River within the City of Rockville. Tammy and her family regularly walk along the stream picking up trash, and also removing non-native invasive plants along the stream bank. When Tammy isn’t working to improve her own neighborhood, she’s busy working as a Network Builder for IMPACT Silver Spring whose mission is “building community-based networks, and creating diverse community ‘spaces’ where people and organizations can cross lines of difference, increase and strengthen social connections, bring forward their gifts, and take action collaboratively.” Tammy told ANS “I have worked in public health with a focus on healthy equity and chronic conditions. One factor that impacts individual and community health the most is the social determinants of health. Getting people outside and engaged in nature has been proven to bring great health benefits. So I decide to focus on getting people physically active outside.” Tammy offered thanks to all for participating and helping to make the first Earth Mother’s Day Clean Stream a success, and looks forward to making this an annual event. And we thank Tammy for being a Stream Superhero and much more!
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