In the last week and a half, we have both looked back at the work we have accomplished together recently, and looked forward to exciting projects that are just getting under way.
Meeting the Challenges
On Friday, March 2, we gathered at the Queens Theatre in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park to review some of our accomplishments and the challenges facing us. Over 400 Parkies attended the event. I used the opportunity to update the agency on the progress we are making with various important initiatives, despite the challenges we face. Specifics of the presentation included sustainability, storm response, technological advances, and community programs. Accompanying my presentation were several videos highlighting staff members at the forefront of our improvements: Genene Dantzler, PS2 of Bronx District 13, who has implemented AMPS effectively in her district; Climber and Pruner James Schultz, who has been an integral part of storm cleanup in Queens; Landscape Architect Jeff Martin, who has designed several wonderful stormwater-capturing bioswales; Information Systems Program Manager Shanna Davis, who has improved the capital process by utilizing a project management program called Unifier, and Blanca Saravia, an Aquatics Specialist of Flushing Meadows-Corona Pool who has been a Swim for Life instructor on our successful pilot program to teach second graders how to survive in the water. Thank you to all who were involved!
Staten Island Green Teens
A group of dedicated teen volunteers has recently done amazing work at the DeMatti Harvest Garden in Staten Island. The Staten Island Green Teens are group of teen volunteers whose mission it is to restore, recycle, engage and encourage the greening of more spaces in parks and playgrounds. The DeMatti Harvest Garden, once known as the Children’s Farm Garden and tended by “The Junior City Farmers” in the mid-1950s, is now the focus of the Staten Island Green Teens. With help from Staten Island Horticulture and Forestry Divisions, the Green Teens will clean, clear and re-energize the existing 30’ by 60’ garden space at DeMatti Park. For this spring, the goal of the Staten Island Green Teens is the restoration and planting of a low maintenance, ornamental and edible harvest garden. The group will eliminate invasive elements and begin to plant fruits and vegetables such as high bush blueberries, raspberries, kale, broccoli and mustard greens. The Staten Island Green Teens will plan a fall harvest celebration for the site and hope to locate and reunite some of the original “Junior City Farmers” for the event. The Staten Island Green Teens will also participate in a Sustainable Playgrounds design mentoring project with the Capital Team. The youth will participate in lectures, site visits to view projects in other boroughs, and a design project in the Borough—likely Greencroft Playground, which was last renovated in the 1970s.
One person in Staten Island Forestry who deserves special recognition is William (Bill) Yellott. Bill is a Gardener working out of the Silver Lake Greenhouse in Staten Island. Bill began his career with Parks seven years ago as a Neighborhood Parks Initiative gardener tasked with taking care of Tappan Park. After a year in this role, he moved to the Silver Lake Greenhouse, where he now works with the full SI Horticulture team, propagating plants and maintaining Greenstreets and other horticultural plantings throughout the borough.
Bill is self-starter, always quick to take the initiative when he sees work needed. He has grown professionally by seeking out educational opportunities in his field and setting goals to work towards. For example, because he has long been interested in woody plants and pruning, he recently became an International Society of Arboriculture-Certified Arborist. As an Advanced Master Gardener, Bill brings a long-term vision to his planting projects. He is also a dedicated team player who readily shares his knowledge with his fellow Parkies.
Recently, Bill has been busy propagating annuals and perennials from seed for upcoming planting seasons. Along with his fellow gardeners, he’s taken advantage of the warm weather to focus on pruning, mulching, and tidying up Greenstreets. He recently spearheaded a clean-up of the ornamental plantings in Conference House Park, in preparation for the upcoming MillionTreesNYC spring planting day event on April 28. In May, Bill will lead a class on “Right Plant-Right Place” at the Snug Harbor Botanical Garden.
Bill is a great example of how far self-determination and initiative can take you.
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
“A dying man needs to die, as a sleepy man needs to sleep, and there comes a time when it is wrong, as well as useless to resist.”
(1914 – 1974)