Last spring, many students from the Warwick Valley Central School District took part in the 2017 Arbor Day Ceremony on April 28th at Stanley-Deming Park, co-hosted by the Village of Warwick and Warwick Valley Gardeners. Among them was fifth grader Sarah Werner, whose artwork on the theme of “Defend New York’s Forests” was chosen as the statewide Arbor Day poster contest winner. We talked with Sarah and her Mom, Denise, about this achievement and about their personal connection with trees.
Sarah: When I saw the theme ‘Defend New York’s Forests’, I thought of a fantasy where the forest had a shield, like a knight protecting the forest. The forest is behind the shield, but different kinds of trees are featured in front of it. My Mom taught me how to paint trees. I’ve been into art since I was very little, where I started with finger painting. My favorite trees are the maples because of all their fall colors. Trees always calm me. They put me in a peaceful mind place.
Denise: Since Sarah was a baby, my husband and I have taken her hiking in the forest near us, Wawayanda State Park. From six months old on she was out there in a backpack with us. Also since Sarah learned to walk, she helped me water newly planted spruce trees around the property. Those experiences influenced her awareness of trees and why trees are good for the environment.
From Clare Evelyn Carney, CCE Onondaga Urban Forestry Educator:
The Save the Rain (STR) Tree Planting Program had a wonderful year of planting street trees throughout the City of Syracuse. In 2017, over 1,000 trees were planted through the collaborative efforts of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County, the City of Syracuse Parks Department, and the Onondaga Earth Corps. In the fall, Save the Rain team members participated in a neighborhood restoration project and two tree planting events in which volunteers engaged with their communities. The program is a component of Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney’s award-winning stormwater management program, Save the Rain.
On September 14th, 2017 the STR team came together to support the annual Home HeadQuarters Block Blitz. It was a wonderful opportunity to partner with other organizations working to rejuvenate our communities. The Block Blitz is a volunteer event focused on the revitalization of homes in Syracuse, with interventions such as painting, landscaping, cleanups, and structural restoration. As part of the landscape renewal, the STR crew planted 13 trees at properties along West Bordon Ave, West Beard Ave, Landon Ave, and Midland Ave of Syracuse.
by Addie Cappello, Horticulture Assistant, CCE Nassau County
As part of the ongoing Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) Reforestation Grant, we ALB project staff (Nick Bates, Rob Calamia, and Addie Cappello) entered the fall 2107 planting season excited to be out of the office and back to working outdoors. For the third consecutive season, we were undertaking the entire tree project—from planning to planting—without the assistance of outside contractors. We are proud of the skills, knowledge, and self-sufficiency we have built up over time.
As part of the ongoing Community Benefit Tree Program of the ALB project, we had planned to plant 50 public trees within the Town of Oyster Bay in fall of 2017. These trees would be planted within the grounds of three schools located in the Massapequa School District: Massapequa High School, Unqua Road Elementary School, and Eastlake Elementary School. We worked closely with the grounds manager for the district, Pete Cheswick, who helped us locate ideal spots for new trees, while we selected appropriate species. Planting went well and we were happy to have helped a community as well as further our goal of reforesting Long Island.
The 22nd New York City Green Horizons middle school careers event was held October 19, 2017 in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. It attracted almost 300 students—the largest registration ever. The weather was perfect and the Park was an ideal site for students to explore 19 stations that focused on environmental and natural resources careers. Special partners this year were staff and volunteers of Van Cortlandt Park, the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park, the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy, and the Van Cortlandt Historic House Museum.
by Nichole Henderson-Roy, Senior Stewardship Manager, Forestry, Horticulture & Natural Resources, NYC Parks
On August 29th and 30th, 2017, the NYC Parks Stewardship program welcomed the first-year class of the NYU College of Arts and Sciences to New York in a truly grand style. Over two days, 1,435 students and 60 staff members cared for 1,570 trees!
The theme for the NYSDEC 2018 5th Grade Arbor Day Poster Contest is “Trees for Bees.” 5th graders are invited to submit original artwork incorporating this theme to help celebrate Arbor Day. Please review contest rules before submitting (they are also below).
The poster competition begins at the local elementary school level. Each school’s winning entry is then entered into a regional judging event. Nine regional champions are chosen and from these a final, statewide winner is selected who will be invited to celebrate at the State capitol in Albany and have a tree planted in their name at their school. Various other prizes are awarded to the statewide winner and their school. The New York State winner also receives the honor of having their artwork replicated as the NYS Arbor Day bookmark, which is distributed to schools and libraries all over the State. Approximately 2,000 students from around the State participate each year.
By participating in the annual Arbor Day poster contest, students learn about the importance of trees and how they affect the health and well being of our environment and the quality of life in our communities.
Ashleigh Pettus is the Operations Manager & Environmental Educator for Trees New York. She coordinates the organization’s summer Young Urban Forester Internship, which began in 2008.
Can you tell us about your educational background and how you came to Trees New York?
Ashleigh Pettus: I graduated from Lehman College in 2016 with a BA in History and Minor in Childhood Education. I spent my winter and spring breaks volunteering; one of my most memorable spring breaks is when we traveled to Perryville, Arkansas to spend a week at Heifer International. There, I learned about rural farming and sustainability; I loved it so much, I went back and spent three months there.
When I came back to NYC, I wanted to share my knowledge but it had to be adapted to an urban setting. I found Just Food and taught some of their Farm School NYC classes. Soon after that I worked at Wave Hill in the Bronx, where I started to learn tree identification, fell in love with trees, and realized I wanted to focus my energy there. I was fortunate to be hired by Trees New York in the summer of 2015 to be an environmental educator. Eventually I became the Young Urban Forester Internship program coordinator as well. It’s a pleasure to share the things I’ve learned in this environmental field with my summer interns.
Please tell us about the internship.
AP: Trees New York’s Young Urban Forester Internship is a seven-week, 175-hour urban and community forestry paid experience. The goal of the annual summer program is to introduce up to 16 high school juniors and seniors from low-income households in New York City to careers in the fast-growing field of environmental science and in urban forestry specifically.
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.
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.
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.