Service Learning on Randall’s Island

SCA's Sandy Recovery Crews Learn About Wetland Restoration & Urban Agriculture

SCA’s Sandy Recovery crews wrapped up their first week on the job with an Environmental Education Day on Randall’s Island — a unique park and recreational space which sits at the confluence of the East River, the Harlem River, and Long Island Sound in New York City.

Forty SCA crew members and their leaders arrived on the island on Friday morning and set to work in the wildflower meadow and the Bronx Kill salt marsh. Crew members from Staten Island, Queens, and Brooklyn worked side-by-side to shovel out sand and clay, pull invasive mugwort, and clear other debris from the wetlands. Members also had the opportunity to meet students from other crews, and learn about the history and ecology of the islands dotting Long Island Sound.

“When I applied to SCA, I just pictured working in the woods,” said one student. “I didn’t even know there were so many park spaces like this on the water.”

After carting out over a ton of invasives from the wetlands, the crews joined up for a tour of the Randall’s Island Urban Farm. Members visited the farm’s rice paddies (unique within New York City), tasted organic herbs, and learned how their restoration work impacted ecosystems throughout the island.

“The crews were tremendously helpful,” said Randall’s Island Deputy Administrator Eric Peterson. “What they accomplished in a few hours would have taken our staff days.”

Natural Areas Manager Chris Girgenti agreed: “It was a special treat to have so many interested and hardworking young people support our wetland restoration.”

SCA’s Sandy Recovery crews will continue to have weekly “EE Days” throughout the summer, visiting sites around New York City and the Hudson Valley to broaden their knowledge of the region’s history and ecology. Thanks to the staff of the Randall’s Island Alliance (including our very own SCA alum Danny Molinaro) for hosting our crews for this day of service learning!
 
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