Exploring a “Green” Sense of Place in Nearby Nature
On Saturday April 3rd, a group of 15 young men from Albany participated in Natural Leaders Network Get Outside Day activities. They volunteered as a trail maintenance crew at the nearby Pine Bush Nature Preserve. Hiking and participating in a Service Learning project in the forest while cleaning up and removing a number of blown down trees on the winter-damaged hiking trails.
Lead by Harun Russell and Derek Joseph, both members of the C&NN Natural Leaders Network, the group, toiled together in a genuine spirit of unity and group action. With the combined efforts of Albany’s Natural Leaders and the Get Outdoors and L earn (GOAL) Program students from Green Tech Charter High School; Albany High School; Albany’s Hackett Middle School and North Albany Academy, as well as a 4th grade student from New Scotland Elementary School were inspired and prepared for a day volunteering, team-building and stewardship in the great outdoors.
Located in the heart of the Capital District Region, the Albany Pine Bush represents one of the best remaining examples of an inland Pine Barrens ecosystem in the world. This gently rolling sand plain is home to a unique diversity of animals and plants, including 20 rare species and two rare natural communities.
While at the Pine Bush Preserve, the group also took the time to survey the area in front of the Discovery Lodge that is designated for an upcoming tree planting ceremony scheduled to take place on EARTH DAY (April 22nd). More than 70 Public and Charter school students will participate in this event.
Similar to the old Youth Conservation Corps, the Environmental Awareness Network for Diversity in Conservation (EANDC), in collaboration with the Green Tech High Charter School, are partnering with the City of Albany’s Summer Youth Employment Program to create “Green” job opportunities that are intended to develop an appreciation for the practices that sustain wildlife and its habitat. Our hope is that a deliberate connection with nature will ignite sparks of interest that may later bring these youth into natural resource careers.
The Summer Youth Employment Program is a 6 week program that will run from July 7th through August 13th. The EANDC and the staff at Green Tech High Charter School are committed to locating meaningful work experiences for our city’s youth.
We appreciate the opportunity provided by the Albany Pine Bush Preserve to “jump-start” our summer youth workforce and we are excited to have a consignment of outdoor work that is designed to inspire a deeper sense of connection to the local environment
The group concluded the Natural Leaders Network Get Outside Day, with a picnic lunch and a welcomed respite at Rensselaer Lake in the nearby Six Mile Waterworks Park, located in the glacial sand plains of Albany's Pine Bush. While the younger members of the group enjoyed casting their fishing rods into the recently stocked lake, the high school age Natural Leaders unpacked (from winter storage) 4-5 tents and set up a simulated campsite, in preparation for an Adirondack Camp-Out scheduled for the first week of May.