Thank you!

To educators in the Bronx: Adam Green, Adam Liebowitz, Addy Guance, Anne-Marie Runfola, Carol Kennedy, Chrissy Word, Damian Griffin, Danny Peralta, Dawn Henning, Dwayne Brown, Jennifer Beaugrand, Jennifer Plewka, Julien Terrell, Tony Archino, Sharon De La Cruz, and Steve Oliveira.

I sincerely thank you and your students for your participation in the study on sense of place in urban environmental education! I have finished the data collection in education programs along the Bronx River, and now I am moving out of the Bronx. Next year I will be analyzing the data, and will share with you the results. It was an experience of a lifetime to work with you and your students during the last three years. Learning from your experiences made my research one of the most exciting studies in the world. I will stay in touch, and I wish you the best luck in your future work!

Alex Kudryavtsev, August 2010

Advertisements

Visiting a tall ship

Addy Guance and Tony Archino, educators at Rocking the Boat, the Bronx, New York City, take their high-school students to visit the Peking, a tall ship docked at the South Street Seaport in Manhattan. Students were building boats and exploring ecosystems in the Bronx River during several weeks this summer. Today these young people explored a much larger watercraft and raised one of its sails.

Green roof in the Bronx

Students in Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, the Bronx, New York City, maintain a green roof on a church. Young people plant native species of grass and remove invasive species. The roof reduces stormwater runoff, reduces heating costs in winter, keeps the building cooler in summer, and provides educational opportunities for community members. Videography: Alex Kudryavtsev. Narrators: Julien Terrell, Andre Rivera.

Environmental stewardship in the North Bronx

Michael Brennan, a student mentor in the summer youth employment program at Mosholu Preservation Corporation, talks about high-school students improving the environment in the North Bronx, New York City. Videography: Alex Kudryavtsev.

Students in the botanical garden

More than 20 high-school students participate in the Mosholu Preservation Corporation summer youth employment program in the Bronx, New York City. While they devote most of their time to tree stewardship and maintaining public parks, they also participate in a number of other learning activities. For example, students participate in a course on tree identification and pruning, and canoeing with the Bronx River Alliance. Today the students visited the New York Botanical Garden to see good examples of greening and landscaping. Jennifer Beaugrand, who organizes this summer program with student mentors, hopes that young people will learn some ideas about plants and landscapes in the NYBG and implement these ideas in their own communities.

Students near a Giant Redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum)

Observing a riverbank restoration project near the Bronx River

At the Rockefeller Rose Garden

EcoRyders

High-school students at the Point CDC in the South Bronx have organized the EcoRyders program. Older students teach middle-school students about the urban environment by helping community gardeners and discussing environmental issues. As an incentive to participate in this program, students create skateboards. They order parts, paint boards, attach the trucks, and learn skateboarding tricks. Recently Victor Davila, an organizer of this program, got requests to make eco-skateboards for Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey.

Environmental Job Skills Program at Rocking the Boat

Dawn Henning is an educator in the Environmental Job Skills Program at Rocking the Boat (www.rockingtheboat). High-school students in her program restore ecosystems in the Bronx River and participate in college trips. They also help scientific institutions monitor the quality and biodiversity of urban aquatic ecosystems, and teach communities about the river and rowing.

Photo: Dawn riding a powerboat with her students on the Bronx River, New York City.

I asked Dawn about the goal of her program and to share with me one teaching tip. Here is what she said to me:

“In Rocking the Boat’s apprenticeship programs the main goal is not environmental restoration and not turning all students into environmental scientists. We help high-school students explore what they like to do and they want to do. In addition, we help them to learn how the skills they are learning are transferable to other aspects of their life. My first teaching tip is to treat students with respect as adults. When you ask them something, you listen, and incorporate their suggestions in your program. You don’t say, “What you suggest is okay, but I’m going to do it another way.” For example, yesterday one of my students came with the idea of having a fun facts board to post any kind of interesting information about the Bronx River in our classroom. It will help visitors to see what we are doing, and it would remind ourselves of all cool things that we are learning. In addition, students have an opportunity to evaluate the program a few times during a semester. Through the evaluation early in the program students asked me to give them a day-to-day schedule of our activities, so now I give them the schedule in advance. Their suggestion has been instituted, and it really works and now students can better prepare themselves for each day, at least mentally.”