by Amosh Neupane
To many people, the thought of spending the summer outside working under the sun isn’t a pleasing prospect. The sweat, the sunburn, the awkward tan lines, the freckles, and all the other downsides of outdoor labor make people desire an air-conditioned office workspace over something outdoorsy. But guess what… I just happen to be working for the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) – a collaborative summer crew program with the Student Conservation Association (SCA) and the National Park Service (NPS) that entails all the challenges mentioned above, and I’m super excited for it!
I’m Amosh Neupane from Queens in New York City, and a warm namaste to you all!
The Youth Conservation Corps is a nationwide program that provides youth my age with an opportunity to engage in conservation projects at a local level. The job includes, but is not limited to, tasks like invasive species and storm debris removal, trail restoration and maintenance, and building climate-resilient local ecosystems. Most importantly, YCC has been fostering interaction among youth from different parts of the country and forging bonds among young minds that share an interest in the environmental and conservation sector.
Having moved to New York a year and ten months ago from Nepal, learning about America and adapting to American culture has been my utmost priority. The differences between New York and Bhadrapur (the quaint little town I hail from) had me taken aback initially. The open spaces back home would remain only in my memory. Having a kitchen garden to grow vegetables would be out of question. I realized I would have to adjust to living in a tiny space in a large city, which was the exact opposite of how I lived in Nepal.
I gradually started learning about and interacting with New York and started liking it. However, I wasn’t truly introduced to the green side of New York until I interned with the Global Kids Greening Western Queens program during my first summer in the U.S. After the internship, there was no turning back. I started participating in several environmental awareness campaigns and searching for volunteer events. After volunteering at the first SCA ConSERVE NYC event, I started an environmental club at my high school: the Coalition Of Students for Environment and Climate Action (COSECA).
I still haven’t fully explored the greener aspects of the city. That being said, can anyone claim to know New York City completely? For a city of such magnitude, influence, ever-changing population, culture, and diversity, one can only ever claim to have interacted with New York at a certain stage, on a certain level. I’ve known New York as my second home. I’ve come to know the neighborhoods of New York, the people of New York, the food of New York, and the languages of New York. I now know that the largest urban rooftop garden in the world is in New York, a few blocks from my house. I know that the Croton Reservoir that supplies water to the largest city in the country is a train ride away. I know that Great Kills Park, the innovative dump-site-turned-park on Staten Island, is a ferry ride away. But I also know that I would fail any quiz about these sites if I were given one.
So I’m excited for my forthcoming internship. I have never been more ready to venture out into the urban wilderness and learn more about the city I now call home. New York may be a shopper’s paradise, an art lover’s mecca, and a foodie’s dream, but it can also be the Sierras for any budding young John Muir. And this kid intends to discover the side of New York where nature and the city meet. Brace yourself New Yorkers – I am marching into the New York City wilderness and a little sunburn and sweat isn’t going to stop me!