Schuylkill Center Honors Educator, Activist Carole Williams-Green

Mike Weilbacher, for the Shuttle

On Nov. 17, the Schuylkill Center will present the 11th annual Meigs Award for Environmental Leadership to Carole Williams-Green, the dynamic founder of the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Education Center in West Philadelphia. 

A panel discussion and town meeting on the critically important topic of environmental education and underserved audiences  will follow. The public is invited to this free event, starting at 7:30 p.m. at the Schuylkill Center, 8400 Hagy’s Mill Road. For more info, visit

In addition to Williams-Green, the panel will include Jerome Shabazz, founder of the Overbrook Environmental Center; Tarsha Scovens, co-founder of Let’s Go Outdoors; and Lamar Gore, manager of the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge. Karen Young, executive director of the Fairmount Water Works, will moderate the discussion. 

A former Philadelphia public school teacher and administrator, Williams-Green led a decades-long effort to establish the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Education Center, which opened in 2001. 

“I used to go up to Pennypack in Fairmount Park, where they have a wonderful environmental center, and I saw how children loved to be engaged in outdoor activities,” Williams-Green said. “It always bothered me that children from West Philadelphia had to travel so far to get these kinds of experiences.”

At the time, she and then-Schuylkill Center Director Dick James served together on a group that was developing energy education curricula. “He said there’s no reason there shouldn’t be an education center in West Philadelphia. I got my inspiration to start Cobbs Creek from the Schuylkill Center.” 

When Williams-Green retired after 31 years in the School District, she focused her attention on Cobbs Creek, helping to raise $2.7 million to refurbish a historic stable. “Back then,” she noted, “people were scared to come here.” Today, the Cobbs Creek center has a Junior Docent training program, classrooms and labs, urban demonstration gardens, an amphitheater and restored meadow and wetland habitats. The creek itself flows just steps from the front door. 

The Meigs Award, named in memory of Schuylkill Center founder Henry Meigs, is given annually to someone whose “guidance towards a sustainable future” reflects Henry’s vision.

Mike Weilbacher ( directs the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education in Roxborough.