The Prince George’s County Department of the Environment awarded a woman for her work to clean up the Anacostia River at the Taking Nature Black Conference Thursday.
Tiaa Rutherford, the county litter reduction program manager, helped create an app to track how much litter is picked up around the county. So far, the PGC Litter Track app indicates 175,000 pounds of litter have been collected.
“I fell in love with the environment as a small child, and to be here 20 years into my career to receive this kind of award is very touching,” Rutherford said.
The goal is to get the Anacostia River’s water fishable and swimmable by 2025, and Rutherford said there’s still a long way to go.
The Taking Nature Black Conference was started by the Audubon naturalists society in 2016. Since then, the organizers said the bi-annual conference has grown from some 100 participants to more than 300 participants.
Caroline Brewer, the chairwoman of the 2020 Taking Nature Black Conference, said African-Americans are disproportionately affected by climate change and environmental injustice. This makes it all the more significant that Rutherford won the award in her eyes.
“There are people like Tiaa Rutherford working all throughout the D.C. metropolitan area to do things to support their communities and often you don't know who they are. For Tiaa, this award and this opportunity to collaborate with environmentalists who look like her is affirming ... She's not alone in this fight,” Brewer said.