Partner Story: Friends of the Riverfront

Thomas Baxter Friendsfriends of the riverfront logo

“Working with PULSE is allowing our organization to go to the next level, grow, and take on additional capacity that we did not have in the past.”
– Thomas Baxter, Executive Director of Friends of the Riverfront

For over two decades, Friends of the Riverfront has drastically improved Pittsburgh’s rivers and riverfronts. What was once a setting of industrial pollution has been transformed into an inspiring story of environmental revitalization. The organization continues its rejuvenation efforts through upkeep and advocacy for the Three Rivers Heritage Trail that borders Pittsburgh’s three rivers. The tireless efforts to improve the trail were recognized in 2010 when the 24-mile trail received National Recreation Trail status by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Friends of the Riverfront works in partnership with stakeholders, from volunteers to government officials, to protect and renew local ecosystems, increase public engagement, and raise awareness of human impact on our rivers and riverfronts.

PULSE Fellow Phil Yoder serves as the Assistant Stewardship Coordinator at Friends of the Riverfront. Phil works to increase awareness and engagement within the Pittsburgh region’s rivers and riverfronts by facilitating Riverfronts Naturally volunteer events, as well as land and water trail maintenance. This winter, Phil has been busy organizing and preparing for over 50 volunteer events for the coming year. His time is also spent in on-going assessment of the riverfront ecosystem and continuous planning of how the community can restore the riverfront to healthy ecosystems.

Thomas Baxter, the Executive Director of Friends of the Riverfront, discusses the impact of Friends of the Riverfront’s partnership with PULSE in the interview below.

Julia Smucker: Why did your organization decide to work with PULSE?
Thomas Baxter: When we were looking to expand our office, we reached out to like-minded organizations who encouraged us to partner with PULSE. We thought this chance could be very beneficial to pursue.

JS: What do you like most about your current PULSE fellow?
TB: Our current PULSE fellow, Phil Yoder, is highly intelligent. He is unique in that he can work independently on complex tasks and has a very good understanding of when to ask questions.

JS: How has your partnership with PULSE impacted your organization?
TB: Working with PULSE is allowing our organization to go to the next level, grow, and take on additional capacity that we did not have in the past.

JS: What is the most rewarding part of working with PULSE?
TB: Our PULSE Fellow is very motivated and intelligent, and it’s a pleasure to watch someone work with so much passion. Having Phil be a part of our organization is extremely rewarding.

JS: What would you tell other Pittsburgh nonprofits about PULSE?
TB: I would tell other organizations the same thing I was told: PULSE is a great program. A partnership with PULSE allows you to meet new people and share your mission with someone unique.

Story by PULSE fellow Julia Smucker.

This is part of a series of posts about the Nonprofit Partner experience with PULSE. If you would like to learn more about a Nonprofit Partnership, please visit our Partner Page.