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Crotona Park

The Daily Plant : Thursday, December 7, 2000

TRAINING PARKS’ FUTURE


Photo by Patricia Auro

At the Salt Marsh Nature Center, Forest Park Nature Center, Urban Forest Ecology Center, Blue Heron Nature Center, Belvedere Castle, and Inwood Hill Ecology Center the future of Parks is being closely monitored. Turtle traps are watched for Red Eared Sliders and Snapping Turtles. Invasive plants are sampled and removed from areas where they threaten native species. Bluebird boxes are built to secure future shelter for the city's birds. Which of these will offer the long-term pay off? Perhaps all of them if the high school students currently being trained by Urban Park Rangers continue to pursue a future in environmental studies. This year, a targeted 540 students from around the city will participate in the newly established Ranger Conservation Corps, an apprenticeship program for high schoolers interested in supplementing classroom-style learning with hands on, project-based career training.

The long-term investment shows immediate results. Weeds have been cleared and shelters built. Furthermore, a framework for future learning has been established. At each nature center, the Urban Park Rangers, Project X, and AmeriCorps members identified restoration sites near the nature centers or within a Forever Wild preserve. Once selected, each site became the focus of Ranger Conservation Corps members who sought to answer questions like, "What's missing for the wildlife here? What exists in this landscape that shouldn't be here?" In pursuing these questions, they learned how restoration projects are planned. The questions sustained 6-10 weeks of learning, 3 days a week, and culminated in creative presentations.

Last Friday, December 1, 2000, the first RCC group held their final event at the Blue Heron Nature Center in Staten Island. Lisa Cody and Brian McGovern, who coordinated the program at Blue Heron, Urban Park Rangers, AmeriCorps, and RCC members gathered before teachers and parents. With charts, standing displays, and a giant fabric turtle for visual aids, they presented their responses to the question "is Blue Heron Park part of a wetland?" The final event of their 8-week session showed the peak of a steep learning curve. The session ended on a high note with students proudly explaining to their parents how their work reinforced the efforts of Project X. Some Rangers were asked to autograph students' certificates, high school yearbook style.

The Ranger Conservation Corps, in its early stages, continues to recruit participants and sharpen its focus. Sarah (Manx) Aucoin, Deputy Director focusing on Education and Programming for the Rangers, Victoria Hornbostel, Project X Coordinator, Matt (Homer) Symons, Education Coordinator, and Urban Park Rangers Patricia Auro and Lynda Miller put their heads together to create the Corps. Environmental restoration is long-term work and so is the process of educating young people. Fortunately, the next stage of the apprenticeship is already in place. RCC members are eligible to apply for the Parks Conservation Corps, a paid summer internship managed by the Urban Park Rangers.

THIRTEEN YEARS AGO IN THE PLANT
(Thursday, December 10, 1987)

MICHAEL LAMONICA APPOINTED QUEENS CHIEF OF OPERATIONS

Queens Parks Commissioner William H. Cook today announced that Queens Deputy Chief of Operations Michael Lamonica has been promoted to the borough's Chief of Operations. William Miller, former APRM at Rockaway Beach will serve as Deputy Chief of Operations.

A veteran of Parks for 31 years, Lamonica came to the agency in November 1965 as an Assistant Gardener assigned to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Since then he has held a number of positions that include: Seasonal Foreman at Rockaway Beach where he was in charge of cleaning the surrounding areas of the waterfront and parking lots; Gardener, assigned to Manhattan and Riker's Island: Foreman of Pitch and Put in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (which was donated to Parks by the 1964 World's Fair): Provisional PPS in Flushing Meadows and Permanent PPS at Crotona Park in the Bronx.

QUOTATION FOR THE DAY

"Our roots are in the dark; the earth is our country. Why did we look up for blessing-instead of around, and down? What hope we have lies there. Not in the sky full of orbiting spy-eyes and weaponry, but in the earth we have looked down upon. Not from above, but from below. Not in the light that blinds, but in the dark that nourishes, where human beings grow human souls."

Ursula K. LeGuin (b. 1929)

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