Urban Conservationist: NYC


(Photo above) The park at sunset: Walter H. Laufer, park patron

I am sure most of you are reading this blog because like me, you also have a love of wild things and wild places. You may even have had an SCA experience of your own and are looking to hear of others on their journeys. The photo you see above is one that has history. Its story is surrounded by the blood, sweat, and tears of those who have worked tirelessly over decades to restore this water body to its former glory. It goes by the name the Hudson River– you may have heard of it.

My name is Michelle, and I am many things in life. I am a daughter, a sister, an optimist, and also what I like to call and “urban conservationist”. I hope over the course of the next month you get to know me a little better as you follow me through my SCA journey.

I am currently a Hudson Valley Corps “10-monther” in the state of New York. My job location may seem a little odd when I say that I work on the lower west side of Manhattan, but then again the term “urban conservationist” may begin to make a little more sense. I currently work at Hudson River Park , which is Manhattan’s largest development project since the creation of Central Park! We span 5 miles along the Hudson River waterfront, from Battery Park City all the way to west 59th street. We sprang from the overturn of an underground highway construction project that was to be built through filled sections of the river. My job is to educate the public about the Hudson River estuary, and I also work to protect and encourage research in our waters, which span 400 acres and are a designated estuarine sanctuary.

On any given day I do a myriad of things. This includes teaching programs to summer camps and school groups, taking care of our fish tanks, or collecting specimens from the park to use for teaching.

For example, this large ball of unraveled rope is exactly what it looks like: a large ball of unraveled rope. However, it is also excellent removable habitat for little river animals! This little contraption is called an eel mop. Its original use was in fact to monitor the return of juvenile American eels to the Hudson River. However, we quickly discovered its uses as habitat for other species, and use it as a collection method for things such as grass shrimp, as seen below. These animals are great to use for our touch tanks and have helped us educate countless numbers of school-age children, as well as adults.

Photo by me!

Along with collecting little critters, I also have a lot of fun taking care of our fish! A major part of that is feeding, as seen below.

Photo by Nick, our high school intern

I also monitor the water quality in our tanks. Here I am, confused over my nitrate levels.

Photo by Nick, our high school intern

Even though I’m still duking it out with my tanks, I am still having lots of fun. I hope you check in soon because next up is fishing in Manhattan! A lot of what I do outside involves our slippery friends, and I want to share my experiences exposing people to the waterfront by way of fins.