NYC H2O’s mission is to inspire and educate New Yorkers of all ages to learn about, enjoy and protect their city’s local water ecology. Through providing public and school programs at historic reservoirs, parklands, watersheds, bays, rivers and wetlands, we encourage diverse citizens to advocate for responsible public policy. Our activities promote science-based knowledge of New York’s local ecosystems and of what is needed for urban water resilience in a time of escalating climate change impacts.
Although NYC H2O received its 501(c)(3) designation in May, 2012, it began offering education programs in 2009 to adults and school groups. Over the last seven years we have offered 120 educational programs focused on NYC’s water system and ecology to a combined audience of 4,000 people. This audience has included dozens of engineers, city planners, and professors, attesting to the quality and informational rigor of the programs. Events have included bike, walking and reservoir tours in NYC, hikes upstate, paddling in the Catskill watershed, public lectures on infrastructure and water conservation, sewage plant tours, and beach cleanups. During paddles and hikes, NYC residents get to see and touch one of the actual sources of their water.
We began offering the Water Ecology & Engineering STEM Field Trips Program in 2014 for students from second grade to high school. In 2014, the first year of reservoir trips, we gave 50 tours reaching 1,200 students. In 2022, we gave 311 field trips reaching 8131 students, 90% of whom were from Title I Schools. We have found that adults and children alike are deeply touched by participating in our activities; resulting teacher interest and word of mouth have rapidly expanded the demand for our school tours. Our goal in 2023 is to offer 350 tours reaching 10,000 students.
NYC H2O has an extensive network of experts in the field of engineering, history, geography and city planning with whom we work. Our partnerships connect us to a vast base of knowledge about the water system and the latest developments to the city’s infrastructure, keeping our programs up-to-date. Furthermore, many of the people who attend NYC H2O programs are engineers and city planners which allows us to further extend our network. NYC H2O also has a network of NYC 2,000 teachers, enabling us to effectively promote field trips to schools.
As an organization that focuses on environmental education, we recognize that our most vulnerable communities are often overlooked or left out of the conversation. We appreciate the significance of the ways we influence how students understand NYC’s water ecology and park spaces. We have the ability and responsibility to approach the historical narrative of NYC’s water system with a critical lens and create nuanced discussions that promote understanding between communities.
We are committed to furthering this statement through the following actions: