SUNY ESF Students Reflect on ReLeaf 2017

Sarah Tyo is a Forest Health student at SUNY ESF and Rachel Grumm is a recent grad of SUNY ESF working as an urban forestry aide for Syracuse Parks and Recreation under the direction of Steve Harris. Sarah and Rachel received scholarships from the Council to attend ReLeaf 2017.

Sarah Tyo
SUNY ESF Forest Health student Sarah Tyo

Sarah Tyo
I am very grateful to have been able to attend the 2017 ReLeaf Conference at St. John’s University in Queens. I participated in the Natural Areas Tour that visited Alley Pond Park in Queens. It was the first natural area of the five boroughs that I’d been to, and I couldn’t believe how much plant diversity there was and how many trees were growing there. It had felt like we were transported to a forest in the country, minus the few random sounds of car horns. The City’s efforts in planting native species were apparent as tulip trees, northern red oaks, and other native trees filled the canopy. The tour was also a great way to get our legs moving.

During Friday’s lunch I was able to attend the first-ever ReLeaf Women’s Summit where anyone was welcome to sit and talk about being a woman in a male-dominated career field. It was a great way to meet other women who are established as professionals in urban forestry and hear about their experiences.

I attended the Saturday morning Forest Health and Research Update panel for the forests in NYC and Long Island. I have a personal interest in tree pests and pathogens, so I thought the panel was very informative and eye opening! A DEC Forest Health specialist went through the major threats facing our forests such as oak wilt, Asian longhorned beetle, hemlock woolly adelgid, and many more! In New York we currently have a good number of pests feeding on our trees that we all need to be aware of and address.

These experiences, along with other panels and activities at this year’s ReLeaf Conference, made it an event that I will not forget. A big thank you to everyone who helped put this conference together and came to present! I thoroughly enjoyed my first conference and I am looking forward to next year’s. I hope to see you all there.

Rachel Grumm and Colby
Rachel Grumm and Colby

Rachel Grumm
The conference was an amazing experience and I was honored to be given the opportunity to be a part of it. This experience was exactly what I needed as I’m working to set up my career path. I’ve really enjoyed the work I’ve done so far as part of my introduction to the urban forestry field and this event solidified the fact that this field is where my career is going. What excites me the most about urban forestry is that it’s such a diverse field aimed at bettering the surrounding environment and community.

My favorite part of the conference was the workshops. All the speakers were inspiring, fascinating, and positive. The workshop that stood out the most to me was “Post-Sandy Lessons Learned.” I liked how all three speakers took the storm as a way to learn more—and adapt. I participated in the Alley Pond Tour; in the past, I would pass Alley Pond on my way upstate but never before had the chance to visit. This natural area stunned me—I didn’t think this would exist in New York City!

I would like to thank the Council for providing funding for me to attend ReLeaf. I learned a lot, and it was an event I’ll always remember.

Happy to Be at ReLeaf 2017

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NYC Parks Manager of Special Urban Forestry Projects Danielle Gift and New York Tree Trust Director James Kaechele served on the planning committee for the Queens conference. Photo NYSDEC
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NYC Parks Director of Street Tree Planting Navé Strauss (left) participated on a panel about “Lessons from Superstorm Sandy” and Trees New York Educator Ashleigh Pettus served as conference facilitator. Photo NYSDEC

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Queens Botanical Garden Tour at ReLeaf

Queens BG green roof Harriet Grimm
ReLeafers toured the green roof at Queens Botanical Garden. From QBG website: “The semi-intensive, 8,000-square-foot green roof with six inches of growing medium is planted with mostly native species that require minimal artificial watering and provide much-needed habitat for humans, birds, and insects.” Photo by Harriet Grimm

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Located at the northeast corner of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Flushing, QBG evolved from the five-acre “Gardens on Parade” exhibit showcased at the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair. Officially opening as “The Queens Botanical Garden Society” in 1946 after local residents saved and expanded the original exhibit, the Garden remained at the original World’s Fair site until 1961, when it was moved to its current location on Main Street in Flushing. Among the original plantings taken from the 1939 site are two blue atlas cedars that frame the iconic tree gate sculpture at the Garden’s Main Street entrance today. QBG has become a 39-acre oasis in one of New York City’s most bustling and diverse neighborhoods.

-From QBG website

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NYC Green Infrastructure Tour at ReLeaf

GI Tour Dan Lambe
Maria Corporan is Gardener/Supervisor for NYC DEP Queens green infrastructure maintenance crews. She discussed the success of different plant species for NYC rain gardens, experimentation with new plants, and how maintenance needs change through the seasons. Photo by Dan Lambe

New York City’s Green Infrastructure Program is a multi-agency effort led by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). DEP and agency partners like NYC Parks design, construct, and maintain a variety of sustainable green infrastructure features such as green roofs and rain gardens on City-owned property such as streets, sidewalks, schools, and public housing. You can see a video about NYC green infrastructure here.

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First Look at ReLeaf Queens 2017!

Womens Summit Queens ReLeaf Karen Emmerich
Women’s Summit at Friday Lunch – women professionals and volunteers coming together to network and share experiences. Photo by Karen Emmerich
Advocacy Table Queens Karen Emmerich
More than 80 attendees sent urban forestry-awareness postcards to their MOCs (Members of Congress). Photo by Karen Emmerich
Onondoga Earth Corps folks with Mary by Karen Emmerich
Onondaga Earth Corps youth and staff with NYSDEC State Urban Forestry Coordinator Mary Kramarchyk (third from left). Photo by Karen Emmerich

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Countdown to ReLeaf! In Queens, at St. John’s, July 13-15

St John's entrance
It’s not too late to register for ReLeaf 2017!
Queensboro bridge
There’s a fantastic blog post about Queens on the New York Habitat blog. “While not as flashy as the skyscrapers of Manhattan, Queens boasts many beautiful landmarks. The Queensboro Bridge is a true icon, and connects Midtown Manhattan to Long Island City in Queens.”

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Register Online Now for ReLeaf Conference!

ReLeaf in greenYou can register for ReLeaf online!

Please take a look at the official brochure and registration for the 2017 New York State ReLeaf Conference, which will take place July 13-15 in Queens, NY! It’s very exciting to see this posted and registration is available online (new for us!) as well as via snail mail.

Some of the highlights of this year’s conference will be Tours of NYC Parks Natural Areas and NYC DEP Green Infrastructure; a screening of the 9/11 memorial film, The Trees; workshops on NYC Tree Map and Forest Health; and invited presentations by UHI Director Dr. Nina Bassuk and Arbor Day Foundation President Dan Lambe.

Register now for the best rates!

NYSDEC Urban Forestry Intern Jennifer Kotary: Get to Know Her!

Jennifer KotaryIn 2016, NYSDEC Urban Forestry Program Coordinator Mary Kramarchyk mentored her second summer intern, Jennifer Kotary. “The goal of the internship is to expose and recruit forestry students into the world of urban forestry,” Kramarchyk says. “Jennifer’s excellent technical and communication skills helped her fit right into DEC’s program. She was thrown into and completed real work—and “extra” activities so meaningful to the success of the program—that, without her, we would not have been able to accomplish.”

Jennifer Kotary:
Two days after my graduation (’16) from SUNY ESF’s Ranger School, I began at NYSDEC via the Research Foundation in the Urban and Community Forestry summer internship. A connection with Mary Kramarchyk at the New York Society of American Foresters Annual Meeting was the beginning to an internship opportunity to better my understanding of what urban forestry is in action. Now that this internship comes to a close, I realize that as urban forestry initiates and sustains connection between community and the environment, my internship has connected me to a critical passion of mine which includes all things trees.

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ESF Ranger School Graduation, where Jennifer celebrates her proudest moment with Director Dr. Michael Bridgen. Photo by June McWarf

People. Urban forestry has connected me to people. I am so thankful to Mary Kramarchyk, Mary Martin, and Sally Kellogg who took me under their wing and amazed me with their adaptive ability to joyfully get done a plethora of responsibilities for the state program. Via statewide ReLeaf meetings, I witnessed the individual personalities of ReLeaf committees flourishing in each New York region. Exposure to NYS DEC’s Bureau of Lands and Forests and the great group of people assisting in statewide forestry is continually inspiring. Lastly, I met an impressive slew of tree-related individuals via the summer’s ReLeaf Conference at Skidmore College.

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