Teens cleaning up Gateway National Recreation Area with Student Conservation Association

NY Daily News
Wednesday, August 7, 2013

NY Daily News covers SCA work in Gateway National Recreation Area

These students don’t need video games; this summer, they’re getting a firsthand look at the real-life ravages of a superstorm.

Dozens of high school students have spent their summer earning minimum wage to clear debris, paint and perform other chores along Jamaica Bay as part of the Sandy Recovery program led by the Student Conservation Association.

“I feel very strongly that we gave young people the opportunity to do some meaningful work this summer,” said Diane Stanley, the program manager.

The nonprofit national organization, founded in 1957, enlists young people to volunteer for conservation-related tasks across the country.

The Sandy Project started July 8 and will end Aug. 15. The 50 students have been working 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays, and wrapping up each week with environmental lessons on Friday.

“We encourage them to see more of the parks and beautful places around the city,” said Stanley. “They have been to several talks about conservation and sustainability, and we also sent them to the Museum of Natural History, the Brooklyn Aquarium and Botanical Garden.”

Students have also been working on clean-up crews at Sandy Hook, N.J., and Staten Island.

“There was no lack of interest from the students,” Stanley said. “In fact, we had to turn some people down. To be able to get pay to do positive work after a hurricane from which many of them suffered the consequences, was something really special.”

Their work has already helped Rocky Point Marsh, Jacob Riis and Frank Charles Park in Howard Beach, among other areas in Jamaica Bay and other damaged areas in the city.

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Partnering with the Jamaica Bay Conservation Corps, the SCA was able to work on high-use areas.

“Folks are really attached to these parks, and there was so much leftover work to do that the Corps didn’t have the capacity for,” explained Stanley.

“Restoring parks to their former glory is the goal of the project,” she added.