GWHV letterhead

  Groundwork Hudson Valley Newsletter            December, 2012

Hello Friends, 
The Pop-Up Adventure Playground at Lenoir Preserve, October 2012. 

Many thanks to all of you who have so generously given of your time and money to support the programs of Groundwork Hudson Valley in 2012.
If you have not yet made a donation, any amount you can contribute is most appreciated and much needed. All of us at  Groundwork wish you
a joyous 2013! 
Best regards,
The Groundwork Hudson Valley Staff:
Rick, Anne, Ann-Marie, Bob, Chanyz, Curt, Holly, Jamie, Jennifer, Kathy, Latisha, Leila, Lynn, Myrna, Rhea, and Vernon. And our Board: Brian, Jeff, Joan, Joe, Michael, Nina, Rob, and Wendy.

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In This Issue
Article Headline
Yonkers Youth Experience Southern Wild
Groundwork in Yellowstone
GWUSA Assembly Takes Yonkers
Science Barge Season Highlights
Article Headline
A Haunted Science Barge
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Article Headline
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Look What Popped Up at Lenoir
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If you do, please consider a gift to Groundwork. 

Your contributions support paid internships for Yonkers high school students, new community gardens, river and habitat restoration, the Science Barge, and myriad educational programs around food and nutrition, urban ecology, community service, and climate change.

Follow the link below to make your secure donation.  Each and every gift makes a difference, and each and every gift is greatly appreciated.

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Holiday Cheer for 25 Families in Need

The holiday season can be especially bleak for those who are struggling to meet the bare necessities of life. But this year, many such families had something to celebrate, thanks to caring neighbors. The Steppin' Up crew, with support from Groundwork, organized a toy drive, in partnership with Open Door Church, Institutional AME Zion Church, and Living Transformation
International Center, collecting 65 gifts, all wrapped and presented at a special Christmas party on December 22.

In all, 45 children of various ages received gifts. The day included games, carols, and a bountiful
dinner buffet.

  Yonkers Youth Stewards Experience Southern Wild

This July, six youth from Yonkers set out on a six-week adventure, restoring miles of trails for hikers in National Forest wilderness areas of North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. The six are Green Team graduates Jose Arroyo, Rasaq Balogun, John Castaņeda, and Kwaku Kodua, Groundwork Landscape Training graduate Leon Gibbs, and Yonkers native Jeffrey Jones.    


Their work was part of the President's nationwide initiative, America's Great Outdoors: Developing the Next Generation of Conservationists.  Groundwork is honored to have been able to send this team out into these wilderness areas, where they were trained, paid, and certified to preserve the trails that make these breathtaking resources accessible to this and future generations. A grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Foundation covered the youth salaries and expenses for this program, and will do so again next summer. The program was run by our partners, the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards, a program of the Wilderness Society.


The Yonkers crew hiked into wilderness locations carrying everything they needed for the week and camped near their work site for five-day stints throughout the six weeks. They had time for fun on the weekends, going white water rafting, hiking to waterfalls, and swimming in lakes.


Arroyo and Osorio were invited to Washington, DC to take part in Great Outdoors America Week in late July. There they spoke with members of Congress and other federal officials about the importance of continuing to fund programs that offer conservation job training, like this one.


Groundwork hopes to continue creating partnerships like this in order to offer environmental jobs and job training to Green Team graduates.  


For more, see this Yonkers Rising story


Yellowstone National Park Welcomes Groundwork Green Team


Four of our Yonkers Green Team youth traveled to Yellowstone National Park for a week-long summer capstone Corps experience. Hosting Groundwork work crews was a new arrangement for Yellowstone staff, and we are proud to report that our youth performed far beyond expectations! It was a wonderful and unique experience for youth who had never been to such an idyllic National Park. Likewise, Yellowstone staff were tremendously impressed with the youth's professionalism and commitment to conservation. Besides completing trail restoration, the youth and their leaders took many day-hikes, swam in a 'boiling river', went on amazing night hikes, and walked among meandering buffalo. We hope to return there next summer


Groundwork USA National Conference & Youth Summit Lands in Yonkers! 


Every year representatives from Groundwork Trusts across the country gather to share our "lessons learned." This year Groundwork Hudson Valley hosted the event, welcoming staff and youth from more than 20 cities, along with federal partners from the EPA, National Park Service, and US Fish & Wildlife. The Conference began with a Funders' Roundtable and opening banquet in New York City on October 10. The next day featured tours of Groundwork's signature projects in Yonkers, beginning with the daylighted Saw Mill River park, at which Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano and City Council President Chuck Lesnick addressed the crowd of more than 100. Next up was the new Lenoir Preserve bird & dragonfly habitat exhibit, followed by a mobile tour of our community gardens. The youth then set sail aboard the Clearwater Sloop, after which they joined in a Sunset Reception at the Science Barge, featuring an eclectic blend of cuisine provided by Tacos el Poblano and  Dolphin Restaurant, and a sumptuous hors d'oeuvres and sparkling apple cider from Foods of Quebec.


The next day the Conference moved to Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, NJ, where the youth heard from staff about career paths in conservation. Then everyone explored the beautiful refuge aboard a flotilla of canoes. The Conference was a great opportunity for teens from all over the country to experience a new city and learn about the projects that their peers in environmental leadership are working on in their towns. 

Many thanks to all attendees, from near and far, who helped make this a fun and rewarding Conference, and to our generous sponsors--the EPA, National Park Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, the Ford Foundation, Chase Bank, Yonkers Tennis Center, Foods of Quebec, Shop Rite, and Coca-Cola. 


Science Barge Toughs Out Sandy

The Science Barge, our fully sustainable urban farm and floating classroom, proved to be truly sustainable, surviving hurricane Sandy's surging waves with solar panels, wind turbines, and greenhouse intact--this after a season in which the Barge hosted more visitors than ever! The Barge had a packed schedule of 96 school groups, 27 summer camp groups, several film crews, the taping of a Food Channel special, and the always lively Art & Science Sundays.


Season-Ending Harvest Feeds Needy 

Science Barge volunteers deliver produce to Yonkers YWCA  

The final fall harvest on the Science Barge yielded a bounty of lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, and collard greens, which were delivered to Yonkers food pantries and community centers for distribution to families in need. Recipients included the  

Yonkers YWCA (pictured here), San Andres Episcopal Church.


French Delegation Says Viva Sustainable Yonkers!

French visit to daylighting
Walters with delegation at GW's American Eel Outdoor Classroom at daylighting park.

Five French experts in urban planning, sustainability, architecture, and culture, representing 4 cities (Paris, Lyon, Lille, Nantes) visited Yonkers in November to tour the Science Barge and the Saw Mill River daylighting park.  


This visit was the first of two study tours in the US and France conducted by the French-American Foundation's Program on Sustainable Cities. The program features a series of meetings with leading professionals to provide a platform for dialogue and exchange, showcasing successful models and innovative approaches. The Barge and daylighted park provided strong examples of two of the Foundation's key themes for this year--projects that help revitalize the social fabric of underprivileged neighborhoods and that demonstrate how green infrastructure, parks, and nature can make these urban environments more livable for socially vulnerable, underserved residents.    


"Captain" Bob Walters led the tour of the Science Barge, a unique example of fully sustainable urban agriculture. Groundwork's River Program Director Ann-Marie Mitroff and Andrew Grundy of PS&S Engineering led the tour of the daylighted park, highlighting the successful interweaving of engineering and environmental challenges that resulted in not only a beautiful urban park for Yonkers' residents and visitors to enjoy, but a thriving river habitat.


water pollution sources
Teachers Delve into Green  Slime

Groundwork is partnering with Yonkers Public Schools to provide professional development to teachers for the STEM program, aimed at providing more Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math across all disciplines. Jennifer Sloan, Director of Education for the Science Barge, took the lead this past November, teaching 2 sets of workshops reaching over 60 Yonkers middle and high school teachers. These sessions kicked off this school year of Environmental Forensics 
STEM programming with an investigation of the green slime in the Hudson River.  Teachers viewed a presentation on the effects of nutrient loading (eutrophication), performed water quality experiments, received a lesson plan and worksheets to take back to school, and participated in several engaging activities to learn more about how nitrates and 
ammonium from sewage and agriculture runoff pollute o
ur waterways.

Watershed Tour Sheds Light on Current Issues


On the afternoon of October 18, a group of 17 municipal officials, county legislators, and interested citizens took part in a mobile tour of the Saw Mill River Watershed, from Chappaqua to Yonkers. Stops with local resource experts included Saw Mill River Audubon's Pine Cliff Sanctuary, a demonstration rain garden in Mt. Pleasant, the often-flooded Babbit Court in Elmsford, a "stormwater-done-right" showcase at the County's Macy Park in Ardsley,  and the daylighting park in downtown Yonkers.


Ann-Marie Mitroff, head of Groundwork's Saw Mill River Coalition, guided the tour, along with specialists Anne Swaim (SMR Audubon), Dave DeLucia (County Parks), and Sven Hoeger (Creative Habitat). The tour was co-sponsored by Greenburgh Nature Center and funded by the US EPA and NYS DEC's Hudson River Estuary Program.



Volunteers Triumph in First Skirmish with Vines
December 1 marked the first Free-A-Tree Invasive Vine Cutting event of the 2012-13 season. Many thanks to the fifteen volunteers of all ages who joined in the effort to battle the vines that are killing native trees and taking over precious river habitat.

Missed the action? You have another chance to enlist! The next Free-A-Tree event is Saturday, January 26, 10-1pm, at the Farragut Ave. restoration site. For directions or for more information contact Ann-Marie Mitroff at or call 914-375-2151.

Seeking Saw Mill River Guardians

Groundwork recently received a 2-year "Eyes on the River" grant from the US EPA to build a lasting stewards group among people who work and live along the Saw Mill River in the downtown Yonkers area. River Guardians will be trained in water quality testing and asked to observe the river throughout the year and help organize neighbors for river clean-ups and riverbank plantings. Groundwork is now recruiting community members as River Guardians. The target area for the program is just upstream from the daylighted river, from Ann Street, along Walsh Road around War Memorial Field, north to Tuckahoe Road.

If you are interested in becoming a River Guardian or know someone who might be, please call Anne Megaro, Vernon Brinkley, or Ann-Marie Mitroff at 914-375-2151, or email:, or

Come Aboard for MLK Day of Service
The MLK Day of Service provides each of us with an opportunity to join neighbors and local leaders to tackle community challenges and strengthen the nation.  There are countless opportunities to lend a helping hand through The Volunteer Center.   Groundwork Hudson Valley will participate by welcoming volunteers aboard the Science Barge on Saturday January 19th from 10-2pm.  Thank you for your help in honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  on this Day of Service in 2013. To participate, contact Anne Megaro at

Groundwork was all over the news recently, with stories on WNBC,, News12, The Cooking Channel, to name a few. Here is a small sampling:


Check Out these Brief Groundwork Videos! 

Groundwork is very excited to premier these fabulous clips about our major programs. The videos were created by local production studio, Numeric Pictures. There is one long video that has been cut into segments for your viewing pleasure.