Honoring Veterans Through Service in New York City


SCA ConSERVE NYC Volunteers Restore Manhattan’s Freshwater Wetlands

SCA honored Veterans Day through service in NYC by bringing 116 volunteers to Randall’s Island for the second-largest ConSERVE NYC event of the year.

Randall’s Island sits at the confluence of the East River, the Harlem River, and Long Island Sound, and contains some of the last remaining freshwater marsh in Manhattan. The wetland provides an urban oasis for herons, egrets, muskrats, and other wildlife, and an educational site for students to learn about the importance of wetland ecology. However, phragmites and other invasives have moved in, pushing out native species and choking the marsh.

Working with the Randall’s Island Alliance (which counts two SCA alumni on its staff), SCA volunteers headed into the marsh to cut back invasives and roll out landscape fabric to keep new weeds from sprouting. By the end of the day, volunteers had cleared half an acre of phragmites, removed 200 lbs of litter, and laid 3200 sq ft of landscape fabric along the trail, making way for native species to return and thrive.

“This ConSERVE event was an invaluable contribution to our conservation work on the island,” said SCA alum Max Lerner, now Program Associate at Randall’s Island Park. “We couldn’t have made this impact without so many dedicated volunteers assisting us in the field.”

“SCA turnout was phenomenal,” said Randall’s Island Volunteer Coordinator Jesse Gubert. “This was one of the most productive volunteer days we’ve ever had!”

Along with Veterans and their families, the day’s participants included student groups from buildOn, Global Kids, Bard High School, Bronx Center for Science & Mathematics, Bronx School for Law Government & Justice, Bryant High School, Jericho High School, Park East High School, Borough of Manhattan Community College, City College, Queensborough Community College, and St. John’s University. 

By giving back at home, volunteers also honored those serving overseas. To open the event, fifteen volunteers and staff stepped up to pay tribute to their family members in the service. For many, the ethic of public service had been passed down through several generations. “Both of my grandfathers served in World War II, and my father served with the Marines in Vietnam,” said student volunteer Bilal Key. “Service runs in my family.”


See more photos from the Veterans Day event on Randall’s Island.

Join SCA for the next event on December 6th at Jacob Riis Park. Volunteers can register at conserveDEC2014.eventbrite.com.