Published March 20, 2024

Supporting Five Rivers MetroParks is a family affair for the Josephs

Five Rivers MetroParks has always been near and dear to the hearts of longtime Oregon District residents Katie and Russ Joseph. When their 15-year-old son, Eli, was born it became a family affair.   

One of our greatest memories was our first Bike to Work Day pancake breakfast with Eli at RiverScape MetroPark. He must have been 4 years old and attending preschool at the Bombeck center at UD,” Russ Joseph said. “I never thought he’d actually make it the whole way, but he rode his tiny little bike that morning from our house to RiverScape for pancakes, and then all the way to UD — well over two-and-a-half miles! At RiverScape, we met up with a contingent of UD students and ended up riding to campus with them. Eli thought it was the coolest thing to be riding with the big kids, and the college kids couldn’t believe this little kid was riding that far on his tiny little bike with training wheels, whirling away on his pedals. It was amazing. One of UD’s publications actually ran a picture of Eli riding that day.”   

It’s memories like these made during recreational opportunities and community events, as well as at the parks, that make the Josephs love Five Rivers MetroParks. The agency’s mission of conservation and environmental protection also ranks MetroParks at the top of their list of community assets.   

The multitude of parks throughout the county means that no matter where you live, there’s a park nearby,” Russ Joseph said. “Having a place to escape is important — and being able to walk or bike or take a bus to a park is incredibly important to make sure everyone in our community has access. I think Five Rivers MetroParks is important because it’s a place where our community can come together.”   

As a family, the Josephs have always valued the quality and importance of their MetroParks. When Russ was asked by a friend to consider becoming a Champion of MetroParks, it was an easy and emphatic yes to join as a donor.   

“The biggest thing I’ve learned is that the levy only covers about 87% of the costs, and that contributions, grants and other funding have to cover the rest,” he said. “The state actually limits the amount of tax dollars that MetroParks can ask voters for. This means if we want our park district to do more, we have to step up and be part of the solution to fund it. The Five Rivers MetroParks Foundation is our method to make sure these needs are met.”   

“It’s our responsibility to make sure our parks have the resources needed to provide us with the spaces and opportunities we deserve,” he added. “Our parks are one of our most valuable resources that improve the quality of life for all Montgomery County residents. I can’t think of a more important investment to make in our community. The parks are where we go to catch our breath, to celebrate our diverse community and to work to conserve it all for future generations to enjoy.”  

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It was a few years after Russ joined the Five Rivers MetroParks Foundation as a Champion that Katie decided to also join.   

“Clean water, clean air, and safe places to live and play are the building blocks for a healthy and successful community,” she said. “We only have one Earth to live on, and it’s our responsibility to pass it on to our kids in the best shape possible. On both a national and local level, we’ve made so many strides forward on environmental protection just in my lifetime, but still have so much more to do, from combating climate change to dealing with environmental justice issues.”   

“I knew firsthand from my experience with the staff at Five Rivers MetroParks that the tax levy revenue does not provide all the funding needed for the day-to-day operations, park maintenance and other programs. MetroParks provides such amazing recreational and educational opportunities, so it seems like a small sacrifice to be able to help support the ongoing operations. We feel fortunate to have been able to have such great access to our parks and want to give back in any way we can.”   

That love of and appreciation for their parks clearly had an impact on their son Eli, 15, who is in his freshman year at Chaminade Julienne High School. Eli is an intelligent, natural leader who is active with the student newspaper and men’s tennis teams. He enjoys watching sports, being outdoors and having fun with his friends. He is also an environmentalist.   

“We need to continue efforts to fight climate change and reduce the impacts of global warming,” said Eli, who in 2023 joined his parents as a Champion of Five Rivers MetroParks with a donation of his own. “I hope as more millennials and Gen Z rise in political office, as well as in the private sector, pressure for change will continue, and more concrete actions will take place.”  

Eli aims to lead the charge on a new generation that will help to support and shape our community and our parks for the future.  

What made me decide to become a donor was understanding that the parks are something that I and countless others care about,” he said. “There’s always something you can do to help others, and each donation goes toward something good and something valuable, no matter the size. Donating also makes you feel good. Giving your valuable time and money for a cause you believe in is worth the cost, and the sense of satisfaction is difficult to match. There aren’t many opportunities to impact an organization that affects so many people throughout our community. Giving is a wonderful way to express what you believe in, and what is important to you.” 

The easiest way to support the Five Rivers MetroParks Foundation, learn more about becoming at Champion at

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