Environmental science, STEM, youth development and service stand as the pillars of Green Girls, which is run by New York City’s City Parks Foundation. The five-week course runs year-round in five underserved communities in the city.
During the school year, the curriculum focuses on water quality and drinking water, and shifts to the urban forest and its street trees during the summer.
“We strive for experiential learning through service—it’s tightly woven so the girls can come, make long-lasting friendships, learn the science, work and advocate, and appreciate their New York City boroughs” says Chrissy Word, Green Girls’ director of education.
Women of color serve as program mentors. More than half of the spring 2018 program’s students were African-American, and 37 percent were Hispanic. Students can continue their STEM learning in high school by becoming city park interns.
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In one project, students counted 300 street trees as part of the city survey. They gathered data about which trees are suitable for streetscapes and the air quality impact. They also examined arboreal insects and how often trees get hit by vehicles.
Studying environmental impacts in their communities prods students to think about solutions and the part they can play in helping their environment, says Word.