Dear Friend,

During the weeks leading up to our virtual event, on October 8, we'll be profiling the eleven amazing women from Southwest PA we're celebrating this year. Today, we meet our Woman of Environmental Community Engagement, Maren Cooke – Environmental Science Educator & Sustainability Salon Host

Meet Dr. Maren Leyla Cooke
Women of Environmental Community Engagement

Maren Cooke is a planetary scientist by training, but is now engaged in environmental education and activism on climate change, air quality, plastics, food, and justice.  She works closely with many different organizations, and serves in the leadership of the Group Against Smog & Pollution (GASP), 350 Pittsburgh, the Green New Deal discussion series, Pittsburghers Against Single-Use Plastic (PASUP), and Ohio Valley Environmental Resistance (OVER).

Maren volunteers as an Urban Ecosteward, a Tree Tender, a Master Gardener, and a Climate Reality Leader.  She co-founded a nature education program in Frick Park, a school garden nearby, and a home gardening program.  She has helped create science curricula and train teachers, and has taught physics, astronomy, environmental science, permaculture, and natural systems to people of all ages at schools, universities, community centers, and public parks for over four decades.  

In the 1970’s, Maren was fighting for public health and a livable future with Citizens for Safe Power Transmission in the Hudson River Valley.  Today, she’s coordinating protests against the looming petrochemical buildout in the Ohio River Valley.  She has been a critical voice on advisory committees and in public testimony across a broad range of issues.  

When not attending meetings, connecting people, teaching (and learning), or participating in protest marches, she operates an urban microfarm — supplying organic produce to food pantries and a local restaurant, as well as garden plants for the surrounding community.  Meanwhile, she has been rebuilding her family’s home as a demonstration site for green building, green living, and creative design.  Also trained as an artist, Maren has worked in pen and ink, painting, printmaking, book design, calligraphy, ceramics, wood carving, and stone masonry;  most of her creative work in recent years has been in the form of architectural features, botanical illustration, and photography.  

Maren organizes and hosts Sustainability Salons, a monthly environmental education forum and community gathering now in its ninth year.  She also maintains an online listing of regional environmental and social justice events called MarensList.  

Congratulations, Maren!


The Event Goes On!



Each year, PennFuture honors the accomplishments of exceptional women conservationists in Pennsylvania. The 2020 Celebrating Women in Conservation Awards are designed to encourage continuing excellence in conservation and to forge a stronger network of exceptional women working to protect Pennsylvania’s environment. 

Since its inception in 2015, this event has traveled around the state to different communities to ensure recognition of local leaders, volunteers, and career professionals. And for 2020 we are celebrating women in Southwest Pennsylvania. 

We also want to give special thanks to our sponsors for their continued support during these difficult times. If you would like information about sponsorship opportunities for this event, please contact Susanne Whitehead at


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