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Congrats, "Green" Graduates! City Celebrates Inaugural Class Of MillionTreesNYC Training Program

Friday, May 29, 2009
No. 49

Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe today joined First Deputy Mayor Patricia E. Harris, New York City Housing Authority Commissioner Margarita Lopez, and New York Restoration Project Executive Director Drew Becher to celebrate the inaugural class of MillionTreesNYC Training Program participants at the program’s first graduation ceremony, held at the Arsenal in Central Park. The ceremony is the culmination of the seven-month paid, environmental job training program, part of Mayor Bloomberg’s MillionTreesNYC – a PlaNYC initiative in partnership with New York Restoration Project (NYRP) to plant one million trees by 2017.

“We are thrilled to graduate the inaugural class of the MillionTreesNYC Training Program,” said Commissioner Benepe. “With intensive training in tree care, ecological restoration, and landscape design and gardening, these newly minted graduates will work to help green communities throughout the five boroughs to establish a more sustainable city. Jointly led by Parks and NYRP, the program receives generous support from the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and the City’s Center for Economic Opportunity. I’d also like to thank the United States Department of Agriculture for awarding a $2 million federal grant to create new green jobs in association with the MillionTreesNYC Training Program.”

The MillionTreesNYC Training Program is a unique seven-month program that is inspired by the green collar jobs movement, and provides on-the-job career training and education to a select group of New Yorkers who wish to build careers in the fields of urban forestry management, ecological restoration and urban landscaping. Program graduates are prepared for a variety of career paths through on-the-job training in arboriculture and ecological restoration at Parks, and landscape design and gardening at NYRP. In addition, trainees received classroom training at the New York Botanical Garden. In total, each trainee participated in more than 1,000 hours of training and educational activities, in addition to assisting Parks and NYRP in planting thousands of new trees across New York City’s five boroughs.

At the ceremony, the 25 young adult graduates, ranging from ages 18 to 25 and hailing from throughout the five boroughs, received certificates of completion for “green” training. Exceptional trainees were honored for Outstanding Dedication, Outstanding Student, Unsung Hero, and Perfect Attendance.

Created as one of the more than 40 innovative programs of the Mayor’s Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) aimed to reduce the number of New Yorkers living in poverty, the MillionTreesNYC program recruits participants from New York City Housing Authority campuses, the Department of Youth and Community Development’s CEO programs and from local community-based organizations in an effort to create stronger linkages between environmental health and community stability. The Training Program is made possible through the generous support of the Center for Economic Opportunity and through funds raised by the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City from the Altman Foundation, the Arthur Ross Foundation, David Rockefeller, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Dodge Foundation.

On April 8, Mayor Bloomberg and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced a $2 million federal grant to create green jobs and restore urban forests in New York City as part of the MillionTreesNYC campaign. The grant created 20 new jobs in horticulture and forestry over the next two years, for which the graduates of the MillionTreesNYC Training Program are currently interviewing. Through their full-time employment at various organizations such as Parks, New York Restoration Project, Prospect Park Alliance, Central Park Conservancy, Bronx River Alliance, New York Botanical Garden, New York City Housing Authority and Wave Hill, the MillionTreesNYC Training Program graduates will restore the natural environment of neighborhoods, parks, gardens, wetlands and forest areas in the five boroughs.

MillionTreesNYC is a 10-year initiative to plant and care for one million new trees throughout the City’s five boroughs and a key aspect of PlaNYC. It will ultimately expand the City’s urban forest by 20 percent, provide New Yorkers important health, economic and environmental benefits, and create a more sustainable urban environment. Since its launch in October 2007, public, private and non-profit organizations rallied almost 4,000 citizen volunteers to plant trees in what has become an unprecedented tree planting campaign and citywide environmental movement. MillionTreesNYC has exceeded its first year planting goal of 93,397 trees by 17,714 trees and has already planted more than 223,000 trees towards the city’s million-tree goal.

For more information about MillionTreesNYC or to apply for the 2009-2010 MillionTreesNYC Training Program, visit or call 311.

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