On Sunday, April 23, the City of Alexandria Environmental Policy Commission (EPC) and Alexandria Renew Enterprises (AlexRenew), the independent public wastewater treatment authority serving Alexandria, presented the 2023 Ellen Pickering Environmental Excellence Award to The Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail (FoMVT), an Alexandria-based volunteer organization dedicated to the ongoing maintenance and improvement of The Mount Vernon Trail.
Since 2018, FoMVT has conducted 140 events with 2,315 volunteers providing 6,458 volunteers hours to improving the Mount Vernon Trail and George Washington Memorial Parkway. “We can’t imagine a better recognition than receiving an award in the name of a founder of the Mount Vernon Trail. Ellen Pickering’s work to establish the trail as well as create open public space on the Alexandria waterfront was a major inspiration in the decision to establish FoMVT. Ellen’s life is a testament that investing in your community inspires others to build on that investment with a lasting impact. We are out improving the trail every weekend and hope that you will join us,” said Judd Isbell, President of Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail.
Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail leaders posing for a picture with AlexRenew Board Members Bill Dickinson and James Beall, Congressman Don Beyer, VA State Delegate Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson, Alexandria Vice Mayor Amy Jackson and Alexandria Council Members Alyia Gaskins and Sarah Bagley.
Founded in 2018, and inspired by the legacy of Ellen Pickering and Barbara Lynch, the two women who built the Mount Vernon Trail, FoMVT’s mission is to improve the Mount Vernon Trail for the benefit of all users. The organization focuses on four areas: trail maintenance, natural resource protection, natural resource appreciation and advocacy.
AlexRenew Board of Directors Secretary-Treasurer Bill Dickinson presented the award to FoMVT President and Co-Founder Judd Isbell yesterday at the Del Ray Citizens Association’s Gardenfest event, one of Alexandria’s community events celebrating Earth Day. Congressman Don Beyer, Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson, Vice Mayor Amy Jackson, and Councilmembers Alyia Gaskins and Sarah Bagley also attended and praised the organization for how it supports community parks and trails.
The Ellen Pickering Environmental Excellence Award recognizes Alexandria community members who demonstrate a commitment to protecting the environment and preserving local natural resources. Volunteers from The Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail can be seen on the trail every weekend conducting project work that includes repairing bridges, removing invasive species, performing bump removal service, pothole repair, bridge board replacement, pressure washing slippery bridges, trail edging, and trimming overgrowth of vegetation.
FoMVT place great emphasis on natural resource protection, coordinating clean-up activities focused on the removal of invasive plant species that destroy native vegetation and deprive wildlife of food sources. In addition to picking up litter from the landscape, volunteers remove bush honeysuckle, English Ivy and kudzu nearly every weekend, saving mature trees from destruction and allowing the re-emergence of native plants.
This annual award honors the late Ellen Pickering and her lifelong dedication to City preservation and conservation. The selection committee is composed of one member of Ms. Pickering’s family, a representative from AlexRenew’s Board of Directors, and a representative of EPC. Nominations are accepted each year starting in February, and awarded in April as part of the City’s celebration of Earth Day.
Visit alexandriava.gov/EarthDay for more information about the Ellen Pickering Environmental Excellence Award and other Earth Day activities.
The Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail needs your help to continue improving the trail. Sign up for a volunteer trail improvement event or Donate to Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail to help us purchase tools and supplies.