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Overbrook Environmental Education Center

[photo:] Greenhouse at Overbrook Environmental Education CenterThrough a partnership with the Overbrook Environmental Education Center (OEEC), the Northern Research Station (NRS) is helping to nurture the environmental health of West Philadelphia neighborhoods and improve quality of life for their residents. This partnership started through the NRS Civil Rights Program but has grown to include its urban natural resources stewardship and environmental literacy expertise as well.

The OEEC is operated by Juveniles Active in Science & Technology (JASTECH) Development Services (JDS), a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization established in 1998, by Jerome and Gloria Shabazz. This organization was created with a primary focus of contributing to the improvement of the environment, education, and public health. One of the major objectives of JDS is to remove barriers to public access to information that will advance the quality of life for citizens living in the inner city. To achieve this mission, JDS provides to the public no-cost or low-cost training programs, workshops, lectures, and community partnerships.

OEEC staff connect regularly with Sheree Johnson, NRS Civil Rights Director, to identify current needs and opportunities. From these conversations emerge joint projects and events that enrich student understanding of environmental sciences and allow them to apply that knowledge in their neighborhood.


The partnership between the OEEC and the Forest Service leverages both scientific expertise and community knowledge and connections to achieve its results.

Partnership Established           
Forest Service Staff Involvement
Annual Budget (estimated)
from Forest Service



This partnership has:

  • Installed solar-powered trash bins at the OEEC campus.
  • Introduced 240 students to employment opportunities with the Forest Service through career fairs.
  • Helped install a community greenhouse that will provide fresh produce to the neighborhood
  • Hosted the NRS leadership team meeting to provide Station Leadership with an introduction to the West Philadelphia inner-city community and the work of the OEEC


The OEEC partnership is changing the outlook of the youth who participate in the activities there and see the difference that improvements to their campus make to water quality and community health.

Lessons Learned

Partnerships that involve youth are a long-term investment that requires continuing commitment from the Forest Service.  Working with a specific community in a particular neighbor is an extremely effective way to share knowledge and make a measurable difference.

[photo:] Jerome Shabazz, Executive Director  


““We promote to our students the benefits that improving the built and natural environments bring over time while using minimum resources, and achieving maximum results.”
--Jerome Shabazz, Executive Director 

Partner Organizations

Last Modified: July 31, 2019