YEARS AGO, when Carole Williams-Green worked as a teacher, she pushed for ways to improve science education.
On her travels around the city, she visited the Pennypack and Wissahickon Environmental Centers, where students could go on field trips and learn more about science.
"I always wished we had something like those centers in West Philadelphia," said Williams-Green, who was a longtime Cobbs Creek resident and is the mother of State Sen. Anthony H. Williams (D., Phila.).
So, after retiring, Williams-Green, now 83, thought of converting abandoned stables in Cobbs Creek Park into an environmental center.
It took 10 years of strong community support, networking with city and state officials, and raising about $2.7 million to renovate the stables, off 63rd Street near Catharine Street. In 2001, the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Education Center opened its doors.
On Thursday, the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education will honor Williams-Green with the 2016 Meigs Award for Environmental Leadership for spearheading the effort to open the center.
The award is given annually to a leader in the Philadelphia area "who embodies the spirit and leadership of Henry Meigs, one of the Schuylkill Center's founders," the center said.
Previous winners have included former Gov. Ed Rendell and then-Deputy Mayor Mike DiBerardinis.
"Carole is a force of nature. She doesn't take no for an answer," said Alan Fastman, the first executive director of the Cobbs Creek center. "It was her dream and it was her drive. She had tremendous support from the community."
Williams-Green, who now lives in Montgomery County, learned Friday that the Boy Scouts will start a program at Cobbs Creek next year. An official announcement is expected in February.
"I am so excited," she said. "They are going to bring so much needed resources to the center."
She also said the center plans to start the Cobbs Creek Conservation Corps, a program for 18- to 24-year-olds who may have dropped out of high school. They will complete their education while learning to become tree tenders and take care of trails. Williams-Green said an area tree-cutting company has offered to hire those who complete the program.
Philadelphia teachers can bring their students to the center, where they can go on nature walks and explore plant life.
Williams-Green said some high school students who worked in the center's park management program learned to clear trails, identify invasive plants, and remove them.
After dead fish were discovered, she said, students conducted an investigation and discovered that a broken pipe at a nearby swimming pool was leaking chemicals into the creek.
"The students wrote a letter to the newspaper and later the Fish and Wildlife people came out," she said. "If you involve the youth and give them some positive projects to do, they will have pride in themselves."
Williams-Green is quick to praise others in the Cobbs Creek community. "I am humbled and gratified," she said of the award. "But the work was done by so many people. This is a recognition for the Cobbs Creek community and the people who have helped make it happen.
"It really was a group effort. You don't do these things by yourself. I represent the group."