The students at Grand Street Campus have been helping put down roots in the community.
Last Sunday, nearly 300 trees were given away within hours on Grand Street Campus (GSC) as part of the MillionTreesNYC Tree Giveaway, organized in conjunction with the New York Restoration Project and buildOn. The trees were available to all New York City residents and could be planted on private properties, community gardens and faith-based institutions.
“We wanted to teach the students about environmentalism through a project they would complete from start to finish,” said Scott Dermott, Programming Director at GSC. “It creates a feeling of community empowerment and also gives them more respect in the neighborhood.”
Nearly 75 GSC students volunteered throughout the day with registration and moving plants, among other tasks.
Kimmy Kunkle, a Program Coordinator with buildOn, said that volunteer projects can create a major change in the way students are viewed in the community.
“It definitely changes perception about youth in the neighborhood,” said Kunkle. “Nobody is required to be here, so to have so many kids come out and do something positive on a Sunday morning speaks volumes.”
Dermott said the tree giveaway at GSC is being done in conjunction with a series of lesson plans and outreach projects related to environmentalism.
“Our science department is doing lessons on sustainability and climate change, and several of our students are volunteering at the Olive Garden in East Williamsburg with students from the Green School,” said Dermott.
Overall turnout in the environmental club at GSC has risen drastically from last year, largely in part to the conscious effort to teach environmental awareness on campus.
Junior Tiara Jackson said that less than 15 students were part of the group last year, but that number has since risen to over 75.
“Environmental issues weren’t something that students or even faculty were really concerned about a year ago,” said Jackson. “There’s now a much greater effort to conserve paper, and you even seen see students in detention receiving punishments that are related to beautifying the campus.”
Dermott said the biggest environmental event at GSC is coming up on May 21st. The buildOn Regional Service Project will have over 400 children from 10 local schools combine with 10 local non-profit organizations. Other highlights of the event will include a live concert featuring GSC musicians and a field day.