Marine Park

The Daily Plant : Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Great Urban Outdoor Event Introduces Youth To Fun, Service And Green Careers

Photo by Daniel Avila

About 600 youth representing New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, the Boy Scouts of America, Brooklyn Council, the YMCA and the Indo-Caribbean Alliance, Inc., joined together to enjoy local stewardship and camping at The Great Urban Outdoor Event on October 15 and 16 at two parks in Brooklyn: Gateway National Recreation Area’s Floyd Bennett Field and NYC Parks’ Marine Park.

Beyond its iconic buildings and cultural institutions, New York City features incredible untapped natural resources. These can inspire the next generation of urban environmental stewards. The goal of The Great Urban Outdoor Event is to “engage, educate and employ” youth in and around the Jamaica Bay area. The event seeks to inspire our young citizens not only to enjoy the outdoors, but also to encourage their stewardship of New York City’s natural heritage and to open their eyes to green career opportunities. Youth participating will plant native trees, clean up New York City’s coast, take nature walks and camp outdoors.

“Introducing kids to green jobs puts them on the path to long-term careers and fosters a strong commitment to improving the environment,” said NYC Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “The Great Urban Outdoor event represents a shared commitment between the National Park Service and NYC Parks to engage, educate, and employ young New Yorkers, by taking advantage of the city’s natural resources.”
“Urban natural areas are just as important as pristine wilderness parks,” said Gateway Superintendent Linda Canzanelli. “Because parks like Gateway are close to large and diverse populations, we can engage urban youth and adults who have yet to see places like Yellowstone.” Canzanelli said Gateway and its sister NYC parks inspire youth to learn about the necessity of natural spaces like those in New York City and it gives youth the chance to consider careers in public service.

During the day, staff from the National Park Service, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and NYC Parks & Recreation led activities in and around Jamaica Bay. The events included a large coastal clean-up, native planting around the new campsites and mulching and watering trees that were planted last fall through the MillionTreesNYC mayoral initiative. From rangers to foresters, gardeners to administrators, the staff demonstrated urban environmental career choices and engaged youth in dialogue about the ways environmental stewardship can sustain our urban metropolis.

In the evening, approximately 150 youth and chaperones camped overnight at one of the two parks. Overnight campers experienced a number of entertaining activities including team-building initiatives and games, night hikes, a lantern tour of the historic aircraft, star gazing and storytelling. The program culminated with all campers boarding the American Princess Ferry at the Gateway Marina for a 2-hour Eco Tour of Jamaica Bay.

Sponsors include the New York Harbor Conservancy and Disney. Support organizations include New York State Department of Conservation (Region 2, Division of Environmental Education), Brooklyn College/CUNY, and NASA-Solar Systems Educators Program and Amateur Astronomers.


“It always rains on tents. Rainstorms will travel thousands of miles, against prevailing winds for the opportunity to rain on a tent.”

Dave Barry
(1947 - )

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