Local youths help their own communities recover

Last edited 09/05/2019
Contact Information

Contact: Larry Calhoun, larry_calhoun@nps.gov, (646) 761-9680

Young park stewards learn workplace skills while helping New York Harbor parks recover.

A variety of youth programs managed by the National Parks of New York Harbor (NPNH) have helped parks severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy to work their way back to pre-storm conditions. Each year, programs such as New York City’s Summer Youth Employment Program, Youth Conservation Corps, United Activities Unlimited and the Student Conservation Association have employed more than 80 young people through NPNH to clean up beaches, plant beach grass, remove invasive plants and repair infrastructure. Planting beach grass not only improves the environment for wildlife but helps sand dunes absorb the impact of major storms and improves overall sustainability. While data for FY15 have not been compiled, in FY14 82 crew members removed 660 cubic yards of debris from NPS property and moved 195 cubic yards of sand. Crews did a variety of tasks: disassembling a dock at Floyd Bennett Field; removing 36 yards of metal fencing at Sandy Hook; clearing a wheelchair access trail of roots at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. Youth programs with NPNH typically assist high school and college students in learning workplace and life skills. One out of every five crew members reported a household income of less than $25,000 per year. Many came from communities hit especially hard by the hurricane, which gave their work an extra layer of meaning for them personally. Surveys measured the effects of their work on the young people themselves, with the most positive growth occurring in conservation mindset and commitment and intrapersonal skill development. For some, a summer job developed into a deeper commitment to NPS values. Amosh Neupane, a recent immigrant from Nepal who worked with the program in FY14, returned this summer as an intern working with natural resources at Gateway National Recreation Area. Crew member Dereck Lynch observed, “Hurricane Sandy hit the East and my town was hit hard. Almost everyone who didn’t live uptown lost everything. Ever since then, I took every opportunity to help out in my town… we cleaned the beaches and it surprised me how much trash there was, but we cleaned it all.”


More information:

United Activities Unlimited

Student Conservation Association

Youth Conservation Corps

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