With the city making a steady recovery from the pandemic this year, NYC H2O’s educational programs and community events were back in full swing this year with a number of new offerings in the fall season. Depending on the day, you might have found us in the Bronx running community litter cleanups, at Canarsie Park showing students how to identify a sweetgum tree by its unique seed pods, at the Greenbelt Nature Center building spotted lanternfly traps, or dressing up as zombies to deliver frightful Halloween fun at the Ridgewood Reservoir. We remain extremely grateful to the New York City Council, our Board of Directors, donors, foundations, H2O members and thousands of volunteers and students who made our work in 2022 possible.
STEM and Water Ecology Trips and Virtual Lessons
Although it was a particularly rainy autumn, NYC H2O still managed to lead 84 field trips and 30 virtual lessons. All in all, 2022 was a prolific year of growth with 312 lessons provided for 8,131 students at 106 schools.
The majority of the students who participate in our water ecology and engineering STEM programs are from Title I & Title III schools with limited access to local urban natural areas and STEM lessons due to income resource gaps. Our trips and lessons seek to broaden these students’ outdoor learning and STEM exposure through providing socio-ecological guidance, historical context, and new perspectives to explore historic NYC greenspaces and waterways.
NYC H2O field trips, led by trained field guides with dual skill sets in teaching and in environmental science/STEM, encourage students’ natural curiosity and prompt them to ask thoughtful questions about what they observe in both the natural and built environments at the following greenspaces:
- Ridgewood Reservoir (Queens/Brooklyn)
- Baisley Pond (Queens)
- Central Park Reservoir (Manhattan)
- Jerome Park Reservoir (Bronx)
- Silver Lake (Staten Island)
- High Bridge (Manhattan / Bronx)
- Lemon Creek (Staten Island)
- Plumb Beach (Brooklyn)
- Canarsie Park (Brooklyn)
NYC H2O extends our passion for mapping and environmental science to NYC classrooms through mapping education where students learn to wield geographic information systems (GIS) to research local environmental and social issues. Now in its second year, our mapping program has grown to include three high schools- Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School, Central Park East High School and EBC High School for Public Service Bushwick, and one elementary school- PS 376, totaling over 90 ongoing student projects.
NYC H2O educators visit our partner schools once a week to deliver lessons on mapping technologies and urban ecology. Students are using these tools to perform hands-on research on topics such as sustainability and environmental resilience in East Harlem, stormwater flooding and litter in Bushwick, and access to green and open spaces in Washington Heights. Throughout these projects students also become ambassadors for change by participating in street-level cleanups, advocacy, and activism.
Combining education and stewardship, NYC H2O was delighted to host three school cleanups in 2022. Partnering with NRPA, we cleaned Wolfe’s Pond Park with both the 2022 and 2023 sixth grades from IS 7 and provided lessons about marine ecosystem protection. This fall we also joined PS 54 for a cleanup around their school grounds to combat stormwater debris.
Council Members and Sponsors
We’re grateful to the following City Council Members for their generous support of water ecology and engineering field trips and GIS lessons for NYC students: Joe Borelli, Jennifer Gutierrez, Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, Mercedes Narcisse, Sandy Nurse, Carmen De La Rosa, Diana Ayala, Inna Vernikov, Kevin C Riley, Pierina Sanchez, Eric Dinowitz, Shahana Hanif, Christopher Marte, Julie Menin, Oswald Feliz, Althea Stevens, Marjorie Velazquez, Amanda Farias, Chi Osse, Justin Brannan, Kalmon Yeger, Kamillah Hanks, David Carr, Carlina Rivera and Robert Holden. We also thank Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, The Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Williams Foundation, Laura Vogler Foundation, Con Edison, Richmond County Savings Federation, Northfield Bank, and Provident Bank for sponsoring and supporting NYC H2O’s educational programming.
STEWARDSHIP AND PUBLIC PROGRAMMING
It has been a busy year at the Ridgewood Reservoir, with major progress on invasive species removal in Reservoir’s middle basin and maintenance and expansion of the pollinator gardens. We held 12 community landscaping volunteer days; which were attended by over 190 volunteers from Brooklyn, Queens, and beyond. Partnering with groups such as Ridgewood Rides and the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation allowed us to expand our volunteer base and spread the word about our projects.
Through the summer and early autumn, a regular stewardship crew, including two hardworking interns from CUNY, worked four days per week to widen the new passage by cutting through the phragmites roots at the middle viewpoint. We also staved off growth of new shoots, and are glad to see that the black tarp laid down over the root structures in the fall of 2021 was effective in blocking out sunlight, preventing any large-scale new growth.
We celebrated the rebuilt and improved intersection in Highland Park which was completed in July. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on July 29, 2022 with DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez and many elected officials. Peter Frishauf, the H2O Board President and Matt Malina, H2O Director, attended and were invited to speak.
In August, we began clearing phragmites in a new zone at the farthest north view point along the West Causeway path. Our work crew began by cutting the phragmites stalks, hauling the stalks away, and then cutting the root structures below the surface of the water At many of the volunteer stewardship days, we gave adventurous volunteers the opportunity to don waders and help us with these fun and messy tasks inside the basin. We are wrapping up the cutting season with a substantial channel cut into the phragmites roots in this new area, and will pick back up with this work in the spring of 2023.
We have continued to dispatch work crews and volunteer groups to clean up trash from Vermont Place and the service road adjacent to the Jackie Robinson Parkway, where illegal dumping, unfortunately, persists. It’s dirty work, but we love to see our park looking cleaner and more inviting.
Embracing the spooky spirit of the season, the East Causeway path was transformed into a “Trail of Horrors” on Saturday October 29. Visitors of all ages were tricked and treated to an outdoor haunted house which featured major scares from witches, clowns, swamp creatures, zombies, demons, and a dinosaur run amok. Over 250 New Yorkers came out to experience the terrifying splendor of this brand-new event. Big thanks to NYC Parks, the offices of Council Members Nurse & Gutierrez, and State Senator Salazar for making this event a wild success.
This autumn, NYC H2O hosted five more virtual talks and readings. In 2022 we hosted a total of 15 virtual events for 1000+ participants. The recorded fall events are linked for viewing below:
- GIS Teacher Workshop Part 1: Intro to GIS
- GIS Teacher Workshop Part 2: Using GIS in the Classroom
- Nineteen Reservoirs with author Lucy Sante
- The Fulton Fish Market: A History with author Jonathan Rees
- Stellaluna with author Janell Cannon
We also produced two educational animations written and narrated by Jonathan Turer.
NYC H2O was able to bring back fan favorite community walks this year and double them! At Ridgewood Reservoir, we organized two Bat Walks with naturalist Gabriel Willow, two Open House New York tours, and both a spring and a fall migratory bird watching tour with ornithologist Heather Wolf.
We were also excited to show off Ridgewood Reservoir’s natural gem status in shiny new ways by debuting new community walk subjects. There was a Flower Blood Moon Walk led by David Chuchuca. David also teamed up with Hanging Gardens’s artist Bryce Peterson for a History of Civic Ecology Walk and was joined by the Highland Park Urban Park Rangers and Matt Malina for a Nature & History Walk exploring the engineering and ecology of the reservoir.
Kevin Barrett coordinated two species ID walks for Ridgewood Reservoir to participate in the 2022 City Nature Challenge BioBlitz led by Jocelyn Perez-Blanco and Ken Chaya.
In Staten Island, journalist Nathan Kensinger continued the doubling trend leading with two Historic Rossville Waterfront tours. This fall, Nathan updated his Prince’s Bay and Lemon Creek Walking Tour to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Sandy and showcased his new Cedar Grove Walking Tour.
Including our June Neversink Paddle, April Wastewater Treatment Tour, and Lisa Jean Moore’s ultra-popular May Horseshoe Crab Walk, NYC H2O was pleased to provide 18 free public programs in 2022 for over 300 New Yorkers.
Fighting back against the Spotted Lanternflies
As the spotted lanternfly problem persisted in New York City through the summer and fall of 2022, we hosted three events–our first at Conference House Park on August 6, one at the Greenbelt Nature Center on September 3 and one at Riverside Park Pier I on September 4–to help community members build simple traps they could attach to trees to trap the lanternflies. The instructions for how to build a trap and attach it to a tree are posted online on NYC H2O’s YouTube account (and has over 7,000 views!) so that anyone can now access this simple how-to and help out by building their own trap.
To prevent these invasive species from expanding their populations, we also offered an egg hunt at Conference House Park on October 30 to teach the public how to identify and remove the insects’ egg masses to prevent them from hatching and spreading.
Beach, Park, and Litter Cleanups
NYC H2O continued to expand our cleanup efforts to the Bronx with a fall cleanup at De Palmer Ave and along the Aqueduct Walk Park. We also cleaned a new Staten Island site, Cedar Grove Beach, with NRPA and a new Brooklyn beach site, Canarsie Pier.
We returned to our recurring debris management sites of Lemon Creek Pier, Oakwood Beach, Plumb Beach. Baisley Pond Park, and Conference House Park as well.
Throughout 2022, NYC H2O arranged 25 successful public stewardship events in all five boroughs and removed around eight tons of trash with the help of 1,650 community volunteers.
Monsignor Farrell High School Marine Biology Club
We deeply appreciate all of our student stewards, but want to highlight the supreme dedication of Mrs. Frydberg and her Marine Biology Club at Monsignor Farrell High School (MFHS). They have braved it all, from chilly winter wetlands to simmering summer sand, and attended every single NYC H2O Staten Island event this past year. Not only do they regularly pick the biggest debris items to tackle and remove as a team, but on water breaks, we’ve even peeped some MFHS students teaching their younger neighbors about their marine studies. This group is a truly great representation of what the next generation has to offer!
THANK YOU to all of our sponsors, partners, and community volunteer groups who supported our stewardship projects:
- City Council Member Joe Borelli
- City Council Member Mercedes Narcisse
- City Council Member David Carr
- Senator Julia Salazar
- Team AOC
- Queens Borough President Donovan Richards
- NYC Parks
- Partnership for Parks
- Con Edison
- The Lily Auchincloss Foundation
- Friends of Olmsted Beil House
- United Activities Unlimited Inc.
- Skills USA
- Friends of Canarsie Park
- Local 45 – NYC Carpenters Union
- Bronx Community Board 7
- Fordham BID
- Volunteer Referral Center
- Hudson River Park
- Riverside Park Conservancy
- August Martin High School
- Bronx Early College Academy for Teaching and Learning
- CSI – Verrazano School
- Fort Hamilton High School
- Gaynor McCown Expeditionary Learning School
- I.S. 24 Myra S. Barnes
- J.H.S. 217 Robert A. Van Wyck
- Leon M Goldstein high school
- New Dorp High School
- P.S. 3 The Margaret Gioiosa School
- P.S. 59 The Harbor View School
- Saint Joseph Hill Academy
- St. John’s University Phi Eta Chi
- Susan E. Wagner HighSchool
- The Buckley School
- Tottenville High School
- City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams
- City Council Member Kevin C Riley
- Senator Jamaal Bailey
- Staten Island Borough President Vito Fosella
- Natural Resources Protective Association (NRPA)
- Jamaica Bay Rockaway Parks Conservancy
- City Parks Foundation
- City Parks Green Space
- Northfield Bank
- New York Cares
- Boy and Girl Scouts
- Liberty Coca Cola
- Americorps Cypress HIlls LDC
- Staten Island Zoo
- The Linnean Society
- HEALTH 4 Youths
- Friends of Aqueduct Walk
- Freshkills Alliance
- Abuela Neighborhood Maintenance
- West Monroe
- Berkeley College
- Brooklyn Technical High School
- Francis Lewis High School Key Club
- Grover Cleveland High School
- Hunter College High School
- I.S. 34 Tottenville
- JFKS Berlin (John F Kennedy School Berlin)
- Miraj Islamic School
- New Visions Charter High School for Advanced Math and Science IV
- P.S. 42 The Eltingville School
- P.S. 62 The Kathleen Grimm School for Leadership and Sustainability
- St. Charles School
- Staten Island Academy
- The Baccalaureate School of Global Education
- Theta Phi Gamma Sorority Inc.
- City Council Member Jennifer Gutierrez
- City Council Member Sandy Nurse
- NYC Comptroller Brad Lander
- Assemblyman Michael Benedetto
- Brooklyn Borough President Anthony Reynoso
- New York Department of Environmental Conservation
- National Park Foundation
- Williams Foundation
- Provident Bank
- NPS – Gateway National Recreation Area
- Monsignor Farrell High School
- SEQ Cleanup
- Ridgewood Rides
- Khalsa Aid USA
- Tottenville Civic Association
- Trout Unlimited NYC Chapter Inc.
- Merchants Corridor of Rockaway Parks Association
- Co- Op City Riverbay Corporation
- Bronx Borough Community College
- Cornell University
- Curtis High School
- Gateway Academy
- I.S 7- Elisa Bernstein
- I.S. 72 The Police Officer Rocco Laurie School
- John Bowne High School
- Moore Catholic High School
- Pratt University
- P.S. 50 Frank Hankinson School
- Saint Joseph by the Sea High School
- St. Clare School
- Staten Island Technical High School
- The Brooklyn Latin School
- Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Education High School