These Volunteer Toad Crossing Guards Help Nature Thrive In Philadelphia

It’s that time of year again, when thousands of toads are migrating across busy roads toward their breeding grounds — and hundreds of human crossing guards are there to make sure they arrive safely without being squashed by cars.

Toad Detour” takes place each spring in and around Philadelphia’s Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education.

The operation is designed to protect the thousands of local American toads that leave the Schuylkill Center’s 340 acres of forest, where they’ve been sleeping through the winter, to head for a nearby reservoir where they’ll make a whole lot of babies.

That’s all good, except for the perilous part of the journey that involves crossing two city streets, points out the Schuylkill Center’s Claire Morgan. She has the world’s best job title, “toad detour coordinator,” and the duty of ensuring that traffic is rerouted on nights when the migration is taking place.

To help these critters make it to where they’ll be able to make it, volunteers block traffic with plastic barriers for a couple of hours every night, with city permission.

They also help corral any toads that hop outside barricaded areas.

Toad detouring started in 2009, when local animal lover Lisa Levinson noticed toads were meeting their maker instead of their mates. She decided to help them out by organizing volunteers and securing permits to close off the roads. The program’s been officially part of the Schuylkill Center since 2011. (You can see some great video from previous years in the documentary at the top of the page.)

Last year, some 300 volunteers including families, scouts —> Read More