Forest Project Crew Leaders Sara and Ashleigh, in charge of the two northernmost work sites in the Herbert & Hyonja Abrons Woodland, sum up the last few weeks of this year’s Project, and reflect on the summer as a whole.
A lot has happened since the last time we’ve updated. The summer has flown by and our young interns have fled the forest. It’s lonely now at Wave Hill’s Forest Project, but we had an awesome summer filled with hard work, amazing memories and made lifelong friends. Our last weeks at Forest Project were jam-packed with field trips, learning experiences, field work and tearful goodbyes. Now it’s just us crew leaders left to clean up and box away Forest Project until next summer.
Our hard work paid off this summer. All of the sites look great despite the unusually rainy and scorching hot summer, and the crews are proud of their hard work. All of the crews managed to finish up their trail maintenance, adding water bars, trail bars and mulching to make everything look beautiful and protect our soils from erosion, as well. Some of us even had time to finish up a little last-minute weeding. Please come by and check out all the great work our interns completed this summer and enjoy some time in a truly beautiful natural area.
The Interns also wrapped up their college courses at Lehman College, earning credits in Environmental Science or Geographic Information Systems (GIS). It was a rigorous five weeks, but the students came out with some amazing end-of-the-semester projects that taught us lots about our sites at Wave Hill. The Environmental Science students created amazing 15- to 20-page papers that told the natural history of our woodlands, using research and documents from years past as well as collecting original data from our sites. The culmination of the GIS coursework was the creation of informative and visually pleasing digital maps that provided a variety of details about the ecological makeup of our woodlands.
In between our intense field and course work we had some amazing guest speakers and workshops. Gabriel Willow, nature journalist and bird watcher extraordinaire, got us all excited about the natural habitats at Wave Hill. He taught us how to view the gardens in a different way when he guided our Environmental Science students in a nature journaling workshop. We drew up-close pictures of some of the objects in our gardens which taught us how to notice all the small details we used to miss. With the GIS class we engaged in an exciting bird-walking project, where we finally learned to put a face to the annoying squawking catbird that haunted us all summer. We also learned to identify some less obnoxious birds like the beautiful American Goldfinch, blue jays and robins. We updated this info into an iphone application called WildLab which helped us identify the birds and add their locations to a set of data that scientists can use to study bird-migration patterns.
We also let the kids take a day off from the hard work at Wave Hill—to do more hard work at Alley Pond Park in Queens! Ok, so it wasn’t really a day off, but we enjoyed the change of scenery. We joined the New York Parks Department’s Natural Resources team for the day to help pull invasive species from the areas in the park where NYC has planted new seedlings, which is part of the MillionTreesNYC initiative. We also saw the beautiful man-made freshwater and saltwater wetlands, stopping to gape back at the schools of fish.
After such an impressive, overwhelming but fun summer we needed some time to celebrate and say our goodbyes. Our final Monday together was spent at Pelham Bay Park, where we again helped out the Natural Resources team by pulling some prickly pesky mile-a-minute from the area surrounding Orchard Beach. At lunch, Barry provided us with some delicious homemade burgers, hotdogs and some veggie burgers for those of us who refuse to mow on meat. We enjoyed the scenery and played some soccer and frisbee on the open field. The afternoon was spent going on a nature walk through Orchard Beach, observing fiddler crabs and watching the ocean from the rocky shore.
After a long summer together we finally had a chance to share little known talents with the group. We have spent so much time together sweating on the field it was hard to believe that some of us still had secrets to share. Our interns stunned us with their amazing talents singing, playing piano, dancing, rapping and hula-hooping for our Forest Project family. The interns (and their parents) also wowed us with some delicious food to share at our pot-luck lunch. We all went back for seconds, thirds and fourths of jerk chicken, curry chicken, fried chicken rice and beans, roti, beet salad, cakes, cookies and doughnuts.
Our luscious lunch was a perfect way to end our summer together, but we didn’t all have to say goodbye. Some of our talented interns came back on Friday to present our program (and their hard work on the field and in the classroom) at the Green Teens Meet and Greet at the Horticultural Society of New York. They also got to learn about the green work other teens are doing around the city while practicing their networking skills. Everyone there was super impressive and we are sure that the future is in good hands.
Now we are left with closing work, piles of paper work, clean up and fond memories. Until next year, faithful readers!