Student Conservation Association (SCA) Summer Conservation Jobs Provide Path to Professional Prosperity
One of the hottest summers in New York City history hasn’t stopped these twelve teens from preserving precious pieces of New York City’s history.
The often dirty dozen is working throughout the New York Harbor Parks System, removing invasive plants, building hiking trails, and restoring heritage-rich buildings. Work sites include Governors Island, Castle Clinton, and Miller Field.
“We’re out here every day, rain or shine, but it’s been mostly shine. And hot,” says 16-year old Sameer Shakur of Far Rockaway, next to a massive pile of exotic Giant Hogweed he’d pulled from the soil of Governors Island. “But if we don’t get the job done, these historic places could be lost for good. And that would be bad.”
Shameer and his crew mates are Youth Conservation Corps members working under the direction of the Student Conservation Association (SCA). SCA, celebrating 55 years as a national leader in youth service and stewardship, partners with agencies such as the National Park Service and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to provide youth with opportunities to protect public lands, learn outdoor skills, and gain career experience.
“The work these individuals are doing is important to the integrity of park resources and the harbor area’s ecology,” states SCA Crew Leader Pablo Galesi. “But the impact is just as great on the crew members themselves. They are developing connections with nature and a conservation ethic that will last a lifetime. And we’re also providing these young people with a professional pathway, which is especially critical in today’s challenging job market.”
SCA engages 4,000 young adults each year in all 50 states, in iconic national parks to quiet local sanctuaries. Its members perform a variety of crucial services, from habitat restoration to wildlife management and visitor services. National studies show that SCA and similar outdoor programs significantly increase participants’ strength and fitness, self-confidence, analytical skills and focus, and result in a greater commitment to conserve the natural environment.
All the same, pulling large quantities of tall weeds is backbreaking work. Even wearing gloves, your hands can get raw pretty quickly. And it seems no matter how many you yank from the ground, there are always more waiting. When asked if she was performing a thankless task, 17-year old Taquesha Dean smiles and shakes her head. “I’m working for the National Park Service, for my country, for my community,” Taquesha says. “This is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.”
At century-old Castle Clinton National Monument, Frank Tian, a 16-year old Brooklyn student, labors in the 98 degree heat to finish some concrete repairs. Once a fortification against the British and later an immigration center, the castle is now Frank’s workplace. “I never even heard of Castle Clinton till I started working here,” he notes. “But it’s been around since before the War of 1812. It’s a landmark. If we don’t preserve the past, what does that say about our future?”
About the Student Conservation Association
The Student Conservation Association helps tomorrow’s conservation leaders take action for the planet by providing high school and college students with hands-on conservation experiences in all 50 states, from urban communities to national parks and forests. Since 1957, SCA has developed new generations of conservation leaders, provided America’s youth with green job training and skill building, restored community green spaces, preserved our trails and recreation resources, and engaged millions of Americans in conservation service and outdoor education. SCA is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, DC with oﬃces in Boise, ID, Charlestown, NH, Chicago, IL, Oakland, CA, Pittsburgh, PA, and Seattle, WA.
Student Conservation Association