Jamaica Bay and the Rockaways

The Daily Plant : Wednesday, September 10, 2003


On Thursday, August 28, on the last day of their program, Summer Tree Corps participants went home looking like something the cat dragged in, bedraggled, sweaty and peppered with mosquito bites. Despite this scene, they left with smiles on their faces after a day of hiking, canoeing and seining in Marine Park Brooklyn. This outing served as the last group day for the teens who were involved in a seven-week program called the Summer Tree Corps (STC), an offspring of Teens for Neighborhood Trees (TNT), a joint venture of United Neighborhood Houses (UNH), the New York Tree Trust, Trees New York and Parks’ Central Forestry and Horticulture, funded by the Levitt Foundation.

Beginning in the spring of 2000, Teens for Neighborhood Trees (TNT) engaged settlement house youth in planting trees and learning about the urban environment in their neighborhoods. The program included a training component in which students learned the important role of trees in the life of the city, how to identify potential tree sites, and how to plant and maintain a new tree. By the end of this three year program, 1065 youth from 22 settlement houses had planted 382 trees throughout the city.

This summer, New York Tree Trust and United Neighborhood Houses used remaining TNT funds to create a summer employment program for TNT graduates called the Summer Tree Corps. As a natural extension of the TNT program, Summer Tree Corps employed 15 TNT graduates (ages 14-18) from six settlement houses to continue tree care in their neighborhoods and throughout the city.

Most of the participants worked in parks close to their neighborhoods (including Pelham Bay Park, Van Cortlandt Park, Crotona Park, Washington Square Park and Marine Park) where they spent approximately 20 hours a week working on a variety of improvement projects ranging from trail maintenance to invasive plant removal. Other interns worked for non-profit organizations like Greening for Breathing in Hunts Point, an organization dedicated to reducing poor air quality through tree planting. At this post, interns assisted in tree maintenance and community surveys. In addition to their individual park placement projects, interns spent five hours a week caring for the street trees they planted near their settlement houses. They watered, pruned, mulched, cultivated and cleaned up trash around the young trees to ensure their survival.

The Corps members met four times as a group to share experiences, work on a common project and enjoy the summer. They took an exclusive tour of Hallet Nature Sanctuary in Central Park, removed porcelain berry and enjoyed a day at the beach in Pelham Bay Park, toured the towering second-growth forests of Inwood Park and learned about salt marsh ecology while canoeing around Marine Park in Brooklyn.

Amy Lau, who spent her summer in Marine Park working for Linda Miller, colorfully described her experience: “One of the greatest enemies we encountered was mugwart. This strong-scented invasive plant grips the soil like a python squeezing the life out of its prey. And of course there was the heat to deal with, but it only gave me more motivation, as if to say, ‘pull! pull! pull! Free our native plants from those evil fiends!’ Well, maybe it wasn’t really those words, but it was really exciting to see what I have accomplished.”

This program, generously funded by the Levitt Foundation was coordinated by two summer interns, Becky Tavani and Ben Williams and supervised by Jennifer Greenfeld, Director of the New York Tree Trust.


It started in Egypt around 5,000 B.C. and spread to Greece, and later the Roman Empire. And since Italian immigrants first introduced Bocce to the Americas in the 19th century, it’s become a quintessential New York City sport. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to compete for cash prizes in the Nutella 9th Annual Citywide Bocce Tournament. Preliminary rounds will be held this Saturday, September 13, 2003 in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island and the finals will be held in Juniper Valley Park on Sunday September 14, 2003 between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Entering is free and you can register on-site Saturday morning between 9:00 and 9:30 a.m. Bring your friends, and you will certainly have a ball. For more information, log onto the website at www.nyc.gov/parks or call 3-1-1.


“The man who lets himself be bored is even more contemptible than the bore.”

Samuel Butler

Directions to Jamaica Bay and the Rockaways

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