Finding the Nature of New York City


Kahmia Moise rediscovers her city with SCA & the National Park Service

ABOVE: Kahmia (right) yanks invasives at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in New York City.


In order to be successful one must first, love what they do; second, love who they do it with; and third, love what they do it for,” said former National Park Service (NPS) Deputy Director, Mickey Fearn. Looking back and reflecting on this past week, I find that there is no other way to explain the success of SCA and their NPS Academy – New York Harbor 2015. From the staff, guests, and mentors who put the week together and kept it going, to the superintendents, rangers, educators, and many others who made the week possible; we all shared a common interest and looked onward towards a common goal. The NPS mission to preserve and protect the parks of America is in our hearts along with the mission to tell the whole American narrative and make it accessible to and valued by all American people and those abroad.

Many members of NPS Academy New York Harbor 2015 expressed that they were disappointed when they learned of their placement in the concrete jungle of New York City. A year ago, when I was a member, I shared that very same disappointment, but at the end of the week I too was excited and truly grateful to have been placed in my very own backyard. And coming back to the Academy for a second time as a peer mentor, it was great to see that change in others as well, share my experiences, and guide and shape the experiences of the next generation.

New York Harbor offered us so much; our week was filled with trips and tips focused around four main themes; making connections, diversity, legacy, and building foundations. We rode the subway and caught the ferry to visit sites including the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Federal Hall, the African Burial Ground, and the Tenement Museum. We took a short road trip to Gateway National Recreation Area – Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge to collectively contemplate and compile post-Hurricane Sandy solutions and conduct a service project clearing invasive plant species from the land. We observed classrooms at Mathers High School, the only school in the nation that has a formal partnership with NPS, and spoke with students about SCA, NPS, the Academy, and how they can get involved. We also closed each day with dinner and discussion strengthening our connections with one another, committing to the legacies of both the Student Conservation Association and the National Park Service, and recognizing our diversity, the diversity of the parks and sites we visited and the diversity within the parks including visitors, staff, divisions, and departments.

At the end of the week, we presented the solutions of our challenge projects which called on us to build upon and around the existing foundations of NPS to ensure its existence and relevancy to future generations. Over and over again, we were told that we are next in line to lead our country, our fellow citizens, successors, and peers. We, a diverse group of youth, were told that WE are needed to continue to uphold the mission of NPS. And there is nowhere else where I would have rather heard this calling, than in my own backyard, the concrete jungle of New York City. Thank you, New York Harbor, SCA, and NPS for a great Academy. Thank you for helping me explore and discover my picturesque, natural-urban landscape.