A garden oasis and cultural center overlooking the Hudson River

Dirt(y) Forest Project Details Disclosed

Forest Project Summer Collaborative interns Emily and Jared, part of the crew working in the northern edge of the Herbert & Hyonja Abrons Woodland, just below Wave Hill House, report on week four of the internship.

So we know you’ve all been wondering about the dirty details regarding Forest Project Summer Collaborative. Well, Emily and Jared are here to tell you. We’re covered in the blood, sweat, and tears (mostly sweat) that go into making Forest Project such an amazing place. This week, rather than staying in the shady comfort of the woodlands, our crew— BAFJEBA—took it upon ourselves to venture into the serene meadow, but little did we know that we would be met with blazing heat. Our crew consists of Ben-Hemir, Audrey, Fred, Jared, Emily, Brezhe, and our loyal crew leader Ashleigh. (Now you get our crew name, right?) We are in the desirable location Site 3, which consists of both dense woodlands and the only meadow on Wave Hill’s grounds.

After our crusade against porcelain berry and other invasive species located in our woodlands, we ventured out into the meadow on a lovely, 82-degree day with a nice breeze. As the week progressed, the heavens opened up, showering us as we struggled to create a walking path through the tall grasses and sumac trees. On days where we weren’t greeted with rain, we faced the oppression of the sun, causing our clothing to become saturated with sweat and sunscreen being applied multiple times. Through the torment of the weather, our crew was able to create a beautiful walking path that could comfortably fit three people wide, and we were able to lay down our damp shovels at 4:30 on Friday.

Forest Project has been quite eventful over the past few weeks. There was a skit contest, where each crew had to perform an original skit for the forest project family on the spectacular Riverdale Country Day school stage. All of the performances were entertaining and great, but BAFJEBA had an overwhelming victory voted by the crews whose stomachs had begun to hurt from laughter. The grand prize was eating Ben and Jerry’s ice cream in 98-degree heat the following Friday.

So far, it is week four of Lehman College classes, and the GIS (geographic information sciences) students have been hard at work measuring the heights of trees using their fingers and the widths of the trunks using DBH (diameter at breast height) measuring tape, and gathering inventory of what types of trees are growing in each site. Meanwhile, the Environmental Science students have been working hard collecting data on the trees and herbaceous plants at the three sample points at each of their sites.

So school’s over, and what better to do than take a canoe down a river in your very own neighborhood? On Tuesday, July 24, Forest Project took a trip to the Bronx River. In preparation for the trip, all of the interns took a class at Lehman College with professor Joe Racklin about the history of the river, the animals and plant life that live in and around it, and what measures had been taken to help restore the river to a more pristine state. Together Forest Project students and crew leaders worked alongside the Bronx River Alliance group, cleaning up garbage that had been dumped from the highway and removing the same invasive species that infiltrate Wave Hill: Japanese Knotweed. After a brief lunch, the interns suited up in life jackets and climbed aboard three-person canoes and gently paddled down the river. It was a first-time experience for many of the interns. As we cruised, we all had our fair share of trouble.  One unlucky group fell prey to the water, resulting in the untimely flipping of their vessel, an experience I’m sure none of us are soon to forget. The shot above shows our own Fred sitting at the front of the canoe, by the way.

Back on Wave Hill’s grounds, many visitors and speakers have been coming to meet us. During the middle of the week, the Environmental Science interns enjoyed a meeting with scientific journalist Laura Geggel, who discussed her career field writing about experiences not only with nature but about technological applications in the world today. On Thursday July 19, students in New York Botanical Gardens’ explorer program came to  observe what type of work we do and gave us a hand at our sites. Their visit here allowed them to experience what it was like to work in the field, an experience they don’t usually have while educating visitors in the Botanical Garden. At the start of this week, we were able to enjoy a bird-watching expedition with our guest speaker Gabriel Willow, during which we were able to observe some beautiful native birds, ranging from the friendly company of some house sparrows to a brightly colored pair of northern cardinals. In addition, he shared his own knowledge and expertise regarding the importance of green spaces to migrating birds in New York, and our city’s high level of bird diversity as well as a quick crash course on amateur bird spotting.

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