Department of Aviation Co-Ops Provide Vital Support to the Earth Month Waterfront Cleanup on the Delaware River

Water clean-up, Sydney and MargueriteAs a Department of Aviation Co-op, I have many opportunities to learn while working alongside the airports’ engineers and planners. We assist with inspections and water sampling, as well as conducting research to inform engineering and environmental policy. In honor of its Earth Month activities, I was happy to join my colleagues in their efforts to clean up the Delaware River waterfront at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) on May 3.

The cleanup site was the Philadelphia Fire Department’s Engine 78 boat ramp, which was established as a center of rescue operations in the unlikely event of a water landing. Since the Delaware River is tidal at PHL, there is a surplus of waste and debris scattered across the beach and vegetated areas that were deposited by the tide. The cleanup was important not just for the safe use of the boat ramp but also as an expression of the sustainability values of airport staff.  

The effort included 22 volunteers from various departments within the airport. Four of these volunteers were the Drexel Co-ops, aiding in both the cleanup and transportation to and from the site. In only a few short hours, we extracted 722 pounds of waste and 249 pounds of recycling from the waterfront. This was a total of almost 1,000 pounds found on the shore that didn’t make it back into the water come high tide.  

The event was made even more special with the participation of members of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Women in Transportation Seminar. I am both a member of the Student Chapter and a mentee in their Mentoring Program. The guidance and information members have to offer has been invaluable and has directly contributed to my academic and professional growth over my time at university. This year, the Philadelphia Chapter is celebrating its 45th anniversary, and the waterfront cleanup event was included as part of the chapter’s “45 in 45” initiative to celebrate this milestone.

The airport co-op position is an advanced internship through Drexel University. Through this program, I am able to dive into a full-time job for six months every spring and summer, which repeats for three cycles over my time at university. As an undergraduate Environmental Science student, I am enrolled in a five-year curriculum with this current job being my third of three co-ops.  

Although I only joined the Capital Development Group’s Sustainability Team a month ago, the Team’s commitment to environmental action is apparent. With my seniority in schoolEmployee with debris pulled from water and over a year of full-time work experience, I have a good handle on what I value about a team and the workplace. It is clear at the airport that I am not just here to work, but more importantly, to learn.  

The Sustainability Team has spent time equipping me with skills for me to grow both within and outside my field. Events such as this speak to the Department of Aviation’s continued efforts to make a tangible difference for the environment and local communities. 


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