The first day of spring is Saturday, March 20, and after the brutal winter we just had you’re probably itching to get out and enjoy some fresh air again. Check out some local nature walks and programs in Staten Island — some virtual for social distancing purposes — as well as news of Staten Island park upgrades, and more. Spring has sprung!
CityParks Free Virtual Nature Programs
For 6th to 8th grade students across New York City
Start Date: March 17th
8 Weekly Virtual Sessions
Wednesdays or Thursdays 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm
The Coastal Classroom After School Program is designed to support middle school students to create meaningful relationships with their waterfront parks. Starting in March 2021, Coastal Classroom will provide virtual after school programming for up to 60 middle school students.
Through digital lessons, students will explore Staten Island’s waterfront at Conference House Park to discover the rich aquatic ecosystems that inhabit our NYC shores. Students will participate in interactive activities focusing on coastal ecology, water quality, urban waterfront restoration and preservation presented through authentic digital learning experiences.
CityParks Free Green Girls Empowered by ING After School
For 6th to 8th grade students across New York City
March 8 – June 10, 2021
Weekly Virtual Sessions
Monday – Thursday; 3:30pm – 5pm
The CityParks Green Girls Empowered by ING After School program is an environmental science club that will engage middle school girls throughout the school year in fun-filled online adventures about New York City’s parks and waterways, encouraging them to realize their potential to create change within the natural environment. Through hands-on activities and the stimulating concepts of virtual field exploration, technology, advocacy and project-based science, Green Girls develop an understanding of natural ecosystems in NYC’s parks, learn about future careers in the sciences and understand their own power to advocate for the environment and their parks.
This year, because of the pandemic related changes, Green Girls will have a particular opportunity to focus on how climate change is affecting our city and our future. Students will learn about the history of climate action and how young people have advocated for the environment. The Green Girls will take part in this advocacy as a group.
NYC Parks Department Nature Programs
Signs of Spring
On the NYC Parks Signs of Spring page, visitors can check to see if some of the city’s most popular flowers have been spotted blooming!
Signs of Spring Hike – Stretch out the winter wearies with a spring hike with the NYC Parks Urban Park Rangers! Search for buds, blooms, birds, and other signs of spring in High Rock Park on Staten Island on the Signs of Spring Hike.
Birding – Urban Park Rangers will guide you to the best wildlife viewing spots. Their birding programs focus on unique wildlife viewing opportunities during particular seasons. To enhance your experience, we encourage you to bring your own binoculars and field guides.
Fire Making – Learn tips and tricks that will enhance your knowledge of the natural world, and might just save your life. What can you use to build a fire? Explore Willowbrook Park with the Urban Park Rangers as looking for different materials and ways to construct a fire. All programs are family-friendly, but are recommended for ages 8 years and older.
Staten Island Park Updates
The Bloomingdale Park Athletic Field project constructed a brand new multi-use synthetic turf field to accommodate activities including toss sports, free play, picnics, and more. The space now features a new paved pathway, seating, drinking fountains, and a misting post. The project also renovated the park’s existing synthetic turf soccer field with new benches, pathways, and enhanced landscaping.
Bloomingdale Park’s 138 acres features a playground, comfort station, active recreational fields, basketball courts and paved pathways. As part of Staten Island’s Bluebelt, the park is also home to natural and undeveloped wetland areas and a stream.
Crescent Beach Park
The project constructed a children’s play area which will serve as an exciting playground for kids ages 5 – 12. The site now features new play equipment, enhanced landscaping, and new pathways that provide community access to the park’s waterfront.
Crescent Beach Park offers magnificent views of Great Kills Harbor and Raritan Bay. From the sands of the beach, visitors can see the borough skyline and the Verrazano Bridge. The park’s grasslands and oak woods offer year-round sanctuary to various animals including egrets, great blue herons, ducks, geese, gulls, and terns. In season, monarch butterflies, short-eared owls, and snow buntings also live in the parklands, while the salt marsh is home to diamondback terrapins, muscles, crabs, and snails.
Protectors of Pine Oak Woods Free Guided Nature Walks and Environmental Conservation Events
Forest Restoration Workshop below the LaTourette Bike Path
Saturday, March 20, 2021
St Andrew’s Church, Staten Island, NY
Be an invasive species warrior with Protectors of Pine Oak Woods. Invasive species can cause the extinction of plants and animals that are native to the area. They compete with native species for limited resources and they change the dynamics of their habitats.
Meet at the bike path entrance on the Old Mill Road (west of Richmond Hill Road) next to the old St. Andrews Church. This 296th monthly workshop continues the work of Protectors in keeping the trails free of invasive species while gaining a glimpse of nature getting ready to blossom for spring. Protectors will supply gloves, pruners and refreshments. Participants should wear face coverings and social distancing practices are expected.
After the work session volunteers take a short guided walk on nearby trails. For more information contact Brian Smith at (917) 842-6585 or Don Recklies at (718) 768-9036. (Service credit is available.)
Nature Photography in NYC
Saturday, March 27, 2021
Clove Lakes Park Martling Avenue, Staten Island, NY
Featured annually in the Protectors of Pine Oak Woods Staten Island Nature and Wildlife Calendar photographer Dana Barbato leads nature photography enthusiasts sharing tips and technique for capturing the breadth and the beauty of Staten Island’s natural world. Dana has honed her abilities afield in the wonderfully diverse woodlands and beach habitats across Staten Island.
At Clove Lakes Park participants will explore different locations throughout the area, from the Clove Valley to Tower Hill. Interested photography hobbyists will gather atop the waterfall bridge on Martlings Avenue. For more information contact Dana Barbato at (718) 909-8863.
A Walk in the Woods at Blue Heron Park
Saturday, March 27, 2021
Blue Heron Nature Center, Staten Island, NY
Enjoy an early spring walk optimistically looking for early signs of spring. Meet at the Blue Heron Nature Center, at Blue Heron Park, a nature refuge on the South Shore of Staten Island. It’s natural areas include meadows, freshwater streams, woodlands, marshes and kettle ponds. (Heavy rain will cancel.) For more information contact Don Recklies at (718) 768-9036.
NYC DOE Office of Sustainability Keynote Series
Events: March 2, 9, 16 and 23
Join the NYC DOE Office of Sustainability every Tuesday in March for the Youth Climate Summit Keynote Series! This weekly event is open to K-12 students, teachers, school staff, partner organizations, and the public. Hear from amazing members of the youth climate movement each week during a 30-minute keynote. Speakers include Jade Lozada, John (JP) Mejia, and Lauren Ritchie. Gain climate knowledge, get inspired to take action, and build peer networks. A Green Career Panel with special guests will also be held on March 23. Register for these events today, and email questions to [email protected]
Video Discussions Planned To Mark Anniversary Of Landfill’s Closure
Borough Hall is collaborating with the College of Staten Island and the Freshkills Park Alliance to present a series of video discussions about the past, present and future of Freshkills Park during the week of March 22. Below is the schedule of discussions. All videos will be streamed live on the Borough Hall Facebook page. The College of Staten Island will archive these discussions for future generations.
- Monday, March 22, 7 p.m: BP Oddo hosts a conversation with former elected officials Susan Molinari, Eric Vitaliano, Fred Cerullo and Vito Fossella on how the Fresh Kills Landfill closure was achieved.
- Tuesday, March 23, 7 p.m.: Deputy Borough President Ed Burke and Deputy Chief of Staff Jennifer Sammartino talks with Staten Island Advance Executive Editor Brian Laline, Staten Island Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Linda Baran and City Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver on the landfill’s impact on Staten Island.
- Wednesday, March 24, 7 p.m.: Dr. William Fritz, President of the College of Staten Island, talks with CSI’s Dr. Faisa Peetz, Wagner College’s Dr. Brett Palfreyman, the Department of Education’s Richard Tudda and the Freshkills Park Alliance’s Rachel Aronson about the educational opportunities offered by Freshkills Park.
- Thursday, March 25, 1 p.m.: Deputy Borough President Ed Burke and Dr. Cait Field of the Freshkills Alliance host an informative discussion about the research currently being conducted at Freshkills Park. Joining them will be the College of Staten Island’s Dr. Lisa Manne and Dr. Dick Veit and Steve Zahn of the State Department of Environmental Conservation. This session is ideal for learners of all ages.
Photo credit: NYC Parks / Daniel Avila
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