EPCAMR brings Denise Hernandez on board as Urban Outreach Specialist

Denise Hernandez, EPCAMR's newest Part-time Urban Outreach Specialist strapping up her waders to obtain some iron oxide samples for the 6th grade AMD Field Trip with Plains-Solomon Elementary School from the Wilkes-Barre Area School District.

Denise, strapping up her waders to harvest Iron oxide samples for the Solomon Plains 6th grade AMD field trip

Denise comes to EPCAMR through a reference from a professor at Luzerne County Community College, Dr. Brooke Yeager, a long-time supporter and friend of EPCAMR. Denise received her Associate of Science from Kingsborough Community College, Brooklyn, NY where she majored in Community Health in 1997. Recently, she also received her Bachelor of Science from King’s College, Wilkes-Barre, PA where she majored in Environmental Studies. As a child, she was always fascinated with nature and the earth sciences. Denise goes on to say, with a passion well understood by the EPCAMR Staff, “growing up in one of the roughest parts of Brooklyn inspired me to go into the Community/Environmental Health field. I believe that a healthy community reflects a sense of mental, physical, and environmental well-being and is the most important foundation for creating a greater sense of community. Good health and a clean environment are essential for a productive community and society as a whole.”

Denise interned for the Institute for Public Policy and Development in Wilkes-Barre, PA in her 2013 Fall semester. She worked as an Administrative Assistant at the Luzerne County Community College Annex in Wilkes-Barre. She also worked as a Parish Secretary at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Wilkes-Barre from 2007 to 2015. For a short time, she held an Administrative Assistant position for the Times-Leader in Wilkes-Barre. Denise has a long work history and is bilingual in Spanish. She has been with EPCAMR as a part-time Bookkeeper since June of 2014 and we are pleased to bring her on board to work on our urban outreach initiatives.

EPCAMR intends to reach out to under-served citizens and community groups that we have not yet served. We have already created programs within elementary and high schools within our service area that have reached a large majority of students from many of the urban centers within the Northern Coalfield. Reaching out and educating more diverse groups will increase our visibility within the communities we are serving and create a larger number of EPCAMR volunteers for programs, events, and community service watershed projects. This will inspire them to become local community leaders in activities that will enhance water quality and fish and wildlife habitat, especially in the urban areas.

As Urban Outreach Specialist, Denise will recruit and work with municipalities, commercial businesses, and community organizations to improve existing landscapes and seek funding for community-based projects such as environmental education outdoor learning experiences and the installation of landscape and structural components to increase stormwater quality and AMD remediation.

Denise will also lead the development of new outreach efforts, with a focus on community groups and school districts within the urban centers of the Northern Coalfield. She will lead programs and strengthen EPCAMR’s relationships with existing partners, while forging relationships with new partners within the urban centers. These partners will include businesses, schools, community groups, church groups, watershed groups, and regional conservation organizations. Workshops, field trips, tree plantings, litter and stream cleanups, and other public engagement events will be developed.

As Urban Outreach Specialist, Denise will produce relevant program communications and educational articles through print and social media. She will help create and then utilize summaries of watershed and water quality data to educate and motivate people to take action. Denise will plan and help host public meetings, tours, work parties, and other activities. She will also assist in building support for implementation of future projects and programs, including grant-writing and fundraising. Through her position, Denise will assist in efforts of community revitalization through economic development and increase awareness and understanding of local history and culture.

Robert Hughes, EPCAMR Executive Director, says, “I’m very happy to have Denise with EPCAMR to assist us with developing new programs that will target our more urban neighborhoods within the Northern Coalfield. Many of the students we reach through our school programs come from within these communities. The programs Denise will be developing and carrying out will allow us to work with them outside of school. We will work toward getting them out in their coal mining impacted communities. Having grown up in Wilkes-Barre and having reached out to many of these communities already, I can tell you that there is a great need to provide the youth and their parents with opportunities to explore nature and become involved in EPCAMR community environmental action projects within the region. Denise is outgoing, funny, enthusiastic, detail-oriented, and calm under pressure. She fits in well with the Staff we have recently built up here at EPCAMR.”

Special upcoming projects the Urban Outreach Specialist will be involved with:

  • Hicks Creek Natural Stream Channel Design & Construction Project
  • Lewis Mine AMD Treatment System Rehabilitation Project
  • Greater Nanticoke Area Outdoor Environmental Education AMD & Pottery Art Classroom Program
  • Centralia Illegal Dump Site Cleanup Project
  • Pollock Enterprises/Whitney Point Illegal Dump Site Cleanup Project
  • Solomon Creek Watershed Coldwater Conservation Plan Implementation Restoration Projects
  • Solomon Creek Watershed Dam Removal and Trout Stream Habitat Improvement Project
  • Old Forge AMD Borehole Hydrogeological Investigation and Monitoring Project
  • Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Borehole Monitoring and Daylighting Project
  • EPCAMR Regional Mine Pool Mapping Project
  • EPCAMR Iron Oxide Harvesting, Recovery, and Processing Project
  • 2015 PA Abandoned Mine Reclamation Conference
  • Huber Breaker Miner’s Memorial Park Project
  • From City Streets to Valley Streams Watershed Outreach Program
  • Expanded Partnership with the McGlynn Learning Center and the Mineral Springs Learning Center
  • The Kid’s Café at Heights Elementary
  • Reaching out to various Housing Authorities within the Urban Centers throughout the Northern Coalfield to establish new partnerships and program

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