Sarah Sumoski, a 2012 graduate of William & Mary’s School of Marine Science at VIMS, is the new Recreation and Education Programs Manager for Paradise Creek Nature Park—a 40-acre waterfront park in Portsmouth built to teach current and future generations what it takes to restore the health of an urban river.
A tributary of Chesapeake Bay, the Elizabeth River was long infamous due to its high levels of pollution from creosote plants and other industrial operations. Opened in 2013, Paradise Creek Nature Park is a shining example of the river’s ongoing revitalization, using newly created wetlands, a forest trail, and public programs to help local residents and visitors appreciate the river’s rebirth.
he Elizabeth River Project—a citizen-led non-profit—developed the park in collaboration with the City of Portsmouth and the Virginia Port Authority. When faced with finding the right person to bring awareness to the troubled river, Sumoski was chosen to help spread the word that cleanup efforts are slowly but surely bringing the waterway back to life.
Sumoski says she’s excited to be teaching people about the environment and getting the word out about conservation. “There’re a lot of people in the area who have never experienced being in the woods or on the beach, so I’m really enjoying working with the public and raising awareness,” she says.