Being Urban Foresters

Sunnyside Pgm. Helps Youth Learn Street Tree Care

Many people walk down a tree-lined street without ever considering the benefits these trees provide to the community, or thinking for a moment about the care these trees need in order to thrive. A group of young people in western Queens will never make that mistake again.

Interns in the Green Jobs Internship program, provided in partnership by Sunnyside Community Services and Trees New York with funding from the Greening Western Queens Fund of the North Star Fund, practice their pruning on local trees, improving their overall health and minimizing potential damage to property and hazards to pedestrians.

With funding from the Greening Western Queens Fund of the North Star Fund, the Green Jobs Internship Program is helping young people prepare for their future careers and become effective environmental stewards. It is also improving the health of the urban forest, and helping participants to appreciate the impact of trees.

This program is provided in partnership with Sunnyside Community Services and Trees New York.

This summer, participants in the Green Jobs Internship Program put in the hard work necessary to promote a healthy urban forest. These young people, who are local high school students, pruned 86 street trees in Sunnyside.

The students prioritized their pruning efforts on dead, damaged and diseased tree limbs to help ensure the overall health of the trees and to minimize potential damage to property and hazards to pedestrians. Students also learned the basics of structural pruning and removed limbs obstructing traffic signs, storefronts, and low- hanging branches.

In an effort to combat the recordlow rainfall and record-breaking heat, students hauled buckets of water to provide each tree with the necessary 15 gallons of water a week. To further support the health of street trees, students removed litter from the tree beds, loosened up the surface soil and laid down organic mulch.

The students saved four trees from being strangled by abandoned Christmas lights. Objects tied around trees such as Christmas lights can easily choke off the tree’s system from bringing water to the leaves, leading to the death of the tree.

Over the course of their internship, these young people dedicated 125 hours over six weeks to promote a healthier urban forest, thereby making their community more livable. These participants also learned about opportunities that exist within environmental careers, and developed skills that will make them more competitive job applicants.

They learned the importance of environmental stewardship and they learned what they can do to promote a healthier environment.

Winson Cai, one of the participants, explained what he took away from the program in this way: “I see my role in maintaining the urban forest as my part time job. No matter what I do, maintaining the environment will always be part of my to-dolist.”

Sunnyside Community Services (SCS) serves 14,000 individuals annually. The mission of Sunnyside Community Services is to strengthen the community by providing a continuum of vital services and activities that enrich the lives of individuals of all ages.

For more information, call 1-718- 784-6173 or visit www.scsny.org.

Trees New York (TreesNY) is an environmental and urban forestry nonprofit organization. Their mission is to plant, preserve and protect New York City’s urban forest through education, active citizen participation and advocacy.

To learn more about TreesNY, call 1-212-227-1887 or visit www.treesny.org.

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