SummerWorks Youth Gain Job Experience While Improving Water Quality in Chickasaw

July 21, 2020




SummerWorks Youth Gain Job Experience While Improving Water Quality in Chickasaw Park

Through a partnership between Louisville Parks and Recreation’s Natural Areas Division, Louisville MSD and SummerWorks, young adults from west Louisville are constructing green infrastructure in support of Parks’ Louisville is Engaging Children Outdoors (Louisville ECHO) initiative.

LOUISVILLE, KY – July 20, 2020 – Louisville Parks and Recreation’s Natural Areas Division, based at Jefferson Memorial Forest, in partnership with Louisville MSD and SummerWorks, is providing youth from West Louisville with valuable hands-on experience as they construct a stormwater infiltration trench in Chickasaw Park.

The project is providing jobs to teens through the Mayor’s SummerWorks program and supporting the Louisville ECHO initiative which is improving equitable access to nature in Louisville by increasing access to nature for youth ages 3 to 21.

This project is funded by a 2018 “Great Urban Parks Campaign” (GUPC) grant from the National Recreation and Parks Association to engage community to improve water quality through installation of green park infrastructure.

The project ties into other planned improvements in Chickasaw Park that also have green infrastructure (GI) components including restoration and expansion of Chickasaw Park pond; construction of a “Forest Play” area to reclaim a woodland in the southwest corner of the park; and other green infrastructure improvements in keeping with the master plan for this historic Olmsted-designed park.

These improvements, currently in final design, fulfill part of the West Louisville Outdoor Recreation Initiative master plan to create nature-based outdoor infrastructure in west Louisville that supports expansion of Louisville ECHO programming. “This project not only supports our efforts to activate wonderful natural assets for enjoyment by west Louisville residents, but continues a decade-long effort to create sustained pathways for youth to experience nature”, says Natural Areas Administrator, Bennett Knox. “We are thrilled that this year a number of current participants chose to return for a second year." 

This specific project involves construction of an infiltration trench in an area of the park that is subject to ponding. The purpose is to allow for stormwater to filter into the ground to minimize direct flow to the Ohio River.  “Not only does this project promote MSD’s vision of safe, clean waterways for our community, it also fosters problem-solving skills for youth, like the innovative drainage strategies taught here”, says Louisville MSD Executive Director, Tony Parrott. “Green infrastructure techniques are engineered to mimic drainage patterns in the natural environment and compensate for runoff from this urban watershed.”

Through this partnership, SummerWorks participants will learn about concepts associated with green infrastructure, tour various GI installations, learn about basic construction concepts, and finally, assist with construction.

“By providing paid outdoor work/learn opportunities for our young people through SummerWorks, we broaden their understanding of the need for natural areas, a way to improve their community and awareness of career opportunities in the environmental field”, said Lynn Rippy, President of YouthBuild Louisville.

“Our partnership with Louisville ECHO illustrates what SummerWorks is all about,” said SummerWorks Program Director Chris Locke. “These young people are getting a unique opportunity to explore career paths in nature that they’re interested in, while also doing meaningful work to improve their community.” 

In addition to completing this project, SummerWorks youth will also be continuing removal of invasive species in Chickasaw Park along upland areas adjacent to the Ohio River begun by the previous year’s SummerWorks Youth. 

Media: if you were unable to attend today's event, b-roll is available by e-mailing [email protected]




About Jefferson Memorial Forest/Natural Areas
The 6,800 acre Jefferson Memorial Forest, a woodland tribute to those Kentucky veterans who have served our nation during times of war, is Jefferson County’s largest nature preserve and one of the largest municipal urban forests in the nation.  The Forest is the headquarters of Louisville Parks and Recreation’s Natural Areas Division which is entrusted with providing stewardship, nature-based educational programming, and outdoor recreation within 7,228 acres of forest, meadow, and riparian habitat across Louisville Metro. The Forest is responsible for implementing the Louisville ECHO Program. 

About Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District
Louisville MSD provides quality wastewater, stormwater, and flood protection services to protect public health and safety through sustainable solutions, fiscal stewardship, and strategic partnerships. This includes treating and reclaiming over 170 Million gallons of wastewater to local streams each day, directing stormwater away from homes and businesses, and operation of 29 miles of floodwall along the Ohio River – protecting our community when river waters rise. MSD works to achieve safe, clean waterways for our community and beyond. 

About SummerWorks
SummerWorks, which was founded by Mayor Fischer in 2011 after federal funding for summer jobs was eliminated, has directly placed Louisville youth in more than 5,700 summer jobs. Overall, its Champion Employers have hired youth for more than 33,000 summer jobs. SummerWorks is operated by YouthBuild Louisville in partnership with KentuckianaWorks, the Louisville region’s Workforce Development Board. To learn more about SummerWorks and how to get involved as a participant, employer, or supporter, visit

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