Youth@Work 2022 Week 4

Hello and welcome to the end of Week 4 of the Friends of East Rock Park (FERP) Youth@Work program! This was the last week of this year’s program, and we were able to finish some important projects.

We started the week with a visit from a local artist, JoAnn Moran from the Lots of Fish program, which focuses on environmental education through art. She joined us all week, but on Monday we painted fish on canvases and sanded and primed garbage cans to prepare them to be painted. The youth then did their weekly pickup of trash around College Woods. After that, it was time to head to the University of New Haven, where the program supervisor, Maria, is a graduate student. We visited the Center for Wildlife Forensic Research (CWFR) where the youth saw many animals and got to learn about what research was being done and local environmental projects that are happening.

It was then time for a campus tour and a Q&A session with members of the Master in Forensic Science program where the youth asked questions about college. A special thanks to Dr. O’Brien and Taylor for the tour of the CWFR, and to Maria Elena, Savannah, Gabrielle, and Leah for answering the youth’s questions!

On Tuesday it was back to spreading soil and mulch in the butterfly garden. The youth continued to make donuts around the trees and flowers there to help retain the water.

Keturah, Janaysha, Janyla, and Adner spread soil and mulch in the butterfly garden.

It was then time to pick up trash from East Rock Park Rd, the one-way street leading to Whitney Ave. We all were disappointed to see the amount of trash on it again. After that, the weekly Greenspace partnership with the Urban Resources Initiative (URI) started. We helped Claire, the URI intern, cover the beds around the Trowbridge Center that we cleaned up in Week 2 with mulch. The youth then spent the rest of the day working with JoAnn to pick designs for the trash cans and begin painting them.

Janaysha, Adner, Janyla, and Keturah paint trash cans.

Wednesday began with more soil and mulch spreading in the butterfly garden. After a couple hours’ hard work we were getting close to finishing, and we decided to leave the rest for tomorrow. To take a break, we walked to the Cedar Hill playground and picked up trash along the way. Back at College Woods, it was time to work with JoAnn to continue the trash cans and to attach plastic waste to the canvases we painted on Monday.

On Thursday morning we were finally able to finish the butterfly garden! We finished spreading the big soil pile that was along Orange St. and spread mulch all over. The youth felt accomplished after completing such a big project. We also spread 3 more mulch piles near the College Woods entrance. The entire area looked so much better!

The completed butterfly garden!

After that, it was back to work with JoAnn. The youth formed fish sculptures out of chicken wire and started filling them with plastic waste as part of a project the Lots of Fish program is doing. We also continued working with campers to attach plastic waste to painted canvases of fish.

Adner, Keturah, and Janaysha work with campers to attach plastic waste to the canvases.

Friday was the last day of the program, so the youth spent the morning making posters about what they had accomplished and seen over the past month that they would present to their families later in the day. Then it was time to help JoAnn finish the trash cans and fill the fish sculptures with plastic waste.

Keturah, Janaysha, and Adner stand with the completed trash cans. We all love how they came out!

David Shimchick, the leader of FERP, then arrived with pizza and we welcomed family members to celebrate all the youth had accomplished. The youth presented their posters and showed off their completed trash cans. Thank you to everyone who came to celebrate the youth!

Adner, Janaysha, and Keturah present their posters to family and FERP members.

To learn more about the Lots of Fish program, you can visit To learn more about the Center for Wildlife Forensic Research, you can visit Be sure to check out the Daily Nutmeg article about FERP Y@W written by FERP member Heather Jessen!

And that’s all for this year’s program! Thank you for following along, and make sure to come back next year to see what the next group accomplishes!


Youth@Work 2022 Week 3

Hello and welcome to the end of Week 3 of the Friends of East Rock Park (FERP) Youth@Work program! It was a very hot and humid week, but we still managed to accomplish a lot.

On Monday we started with our usual trash pickup around College Woods. We were able to finish along Orange St before the rain started, but were forced to go home early when the thunder started.

With the extra rest we got on Monday, Tuesday was a very busy day! We started the day by clearing off the staircase just past Colonial Springs and cutting back some of the vegetation growing on the side of the trail. The trail is safer to use now, and many runners thanked us as they went past!

After a break, it was time for the weekly Greenspace. Claire, the Urban Resources Initiative (URI) intern, brought over 2 Amelanchier trees (also known as shadbush) for us to plant. The youth helped get them off the truck, dig the holes for them, and place them. They were very heavy and it was hot, sweaty work, but we all felt very accomplished when we were done!

Keturah, Janyla, Claire’s dad, Adner, Janaysha, and Claire check the depth of the hole to make sure the tree will fit correctly.

We began Wednesday with a visit to the Pardee Rose Garden. The youth got a tour of the greenhouses there, learned a little about the history of the garden, and then got to work spreading soil and mulch. This year is the 100th anniversary of the garden! They grow and provide plants for much of the surrounding green spaces around the city. We then headed back to College Woods and did more trash pickup.

Thursday morning we were back at the Pardee Rose Garden. The youth helped weed, got rid of a fallen tree branch, got a tour of the rose garden, and learned about the roses there and all the work that goes into maintaining them. There are about 35-40 different varieties of roses, as well as a variety of other plants. We saw many butterflies, learned about bamboo, and got to eat raspberries straight off the bush.

After that, it was back to College Woods where the youth made another mulch donut around one of the trees we planted on Tuesday. We then picked up some more tires that were dumped over by Colonial Springs and started to bring them back to College Woods for the Parks Department to pick up. The youth were very happy when the garbage truck passed by and took the tires from us halfway on our way back. The final activity of the day was a bingo scavenger hunt created by the program supervisor, Maria. The youth split into teams of two and searched for things using all they had learned over the past 3 weeks.

On Friday, the youth started off the day by finishing making mulch donuts around the trees we planted on Tuesday. We then got to work in the butterfly garden along Orange St spreading soil and mulch. The mulch donuts are particularly important in this area because of the hill – we want the plants to keep the water they get! The youth then moved to the Tom Holahan memorial garden in College Woods and started making a new border around it so we could spread mulch there next week. After that, we took a trip to the Yale Sustainable Food Program in the Yale Garden. We were given a tour of all the things they grow there (sampling some of the peppers, herbs, and tomatoes along the way, of course) and learned about the different planting techniques they use. Much of the food that’s grown in the garden gets donated to Common Ground’s Mobile Market and Loaves and Fishes, but there was nothing to harvest on that day. Instead, the youth got involved by “chewing” a bed that carrots will soon be planted in. “Chewing” involves turning over the soil to mix in the chicken manure they were spreading to add nutrients to the soil.

Pictures from left to right: the farm chickens, Janaysha poses with flowers she picked, and Keturah and Maria pose with zucchini they took home.

After a long, very hot week, the youth got a well-deserved ice cream break. To finish off the week, we picked up trash around College Woods so it would be looking good for the weekend.

Thanks for reading and we will see you next week to present the final accomplishments of the 2022 FERP Youth@Work program!

Youth@Work 2022 Week 2

Hello all and welcome to the second week of the Friends of East Rock Park (FERP) Youth@Work program! We are proud to present all the accomplishments of the youth this week.

We began the week by doing our weekly trash pick-up in College Woods. The park is heavily used over the weekends and there is always a ton of trash left on Monday. No turtles to save this time though! After spending the morning cleaning up, the youth spread more mulch along the Orange St side of the College Woods entrance. Spreading mulch helps protect the plants that are there, contributes to soil health, and stops some soil erosion from rainfall. To end the day, the youth walked to the Cedar Hill playground to finish sweeping and clearing out the last of the leaves. We picked up trash all along the way and had filled many buckets by the time we got to the playground. After some more hard work, the last of the leaves were all cleared out and the playground was looking good!

On Tuesday we started in the shade of the Colonial Spring area and ripped out more invasive species, as well as raking some leaves away from the vinca growing in the area. Vinca is a native Connecticut plant, and by getting rid of some of the leaves we help it get the nutrients and space it needs to grow. Before we got rid of all the leaves, it was time for the weekly Greenspace! We met Claire from the Yale Urban Resources Initiative (URI) and together with her and David Shimchick we tackled the garden along the Trowbridge Center. It had become overgrown and a clearing out was much needed. After ripping out the unwanted plants, we broke up the soil and remaining roots in preparation for some planting.

Adner and Janaysha hard at work clearing weeds and breaking up soil. Adner really enjoyed using the pickaxe!

After a well-deserved break from the heat, the youth tackled two more mulch piles by the College Woods entrance. The area was looking so much better already!

On Wednesday it was time to pick up trash in College Woods again, and we also did East Rock Park Rd, the one-way street that leads to Whitney Ave. We wish people would stop throwing garbage out of their cars! After that, it was time to spread more mulch. This time we worked along the Cold Spring St side of the College Woods entrance. The youth made doughnuts around the tree and canna that were there. These doughnuts help prevent the water from running off, which helps the plants stay hydrated and reduces soil erosion as well.

We had two more mulch piles left, but the heat became too much and we headed downtown to the Yale Art Gallery. There was a wide variety of art styles and with all the landscapes the youth got a look at nature from a different perspective.

This piece by El Anatsui was made entirely from bottle caps and copper wire. Even the trash we pick up every week can become art!

To start Thursday off, the youth tackled the final two mulch piles on the Cold Spring St side of the College Woods entrance. With all that new mulch, the entrance looked much more inviting. The next project the youth tackled was the Colonial Springs steps. They were covered in leaves and had vegetation growing onto the steps from the sides. The youth cut everything back and swept the leaves and dirt off of them. It looked so much better once they had finished!

After that, it was time for a well-deserved break and the youth did a nature reflection to help them appreciate the beauty of where we had been working for almost 2 weeks already! We finished the day by weeding in the area around the Trowbridge Center bathrooms.

Friday began with more doughnuts (not the edible kind, much to the disappointment of the youth), as we started spreading soil and mulch around the trees in the butterfly garden along Orange St. It’s important to help the plants retain moisture, especially with the lack of rain lately.

The youth found a snake in the mulch pile.

Then it was time to pick up more trash around College Woods. The youth ended the day by finishing raking the leaves out of the vinca and pulling out knotweed by Colonial Springs. After a long, hot day we were all excited to go get some rest and enjoy the weekend.

Janaysha, Keturah, Adner, and Janyla raking leaves out of the vinca.

We will see you all again next week!

Youth@Work 2022 Week 1

Hello everyone and welcome to the Friends of East Rock Park (FERP) Youth@Work program! At the end of each week, there will be a new post highlighting the accomplishments of the youth for that week. The program will run for 4 weeks and we are excited to see all that they will accomplish in that time. This year we have two returning student park stewards from last year, Keturah and Adner, as well as two new ones, Janaysha and Janyla. The youth are led by their supervisor, Maria. A warm welcome to all!

We started the program on Tuesday by taking a walk through the park with David Shimchick, the leader of FERP, who showed the youth how to identify invasive species and poison ivy.

Can you identify the poison ivy in this photo? It is typically characterized by dark green, shiny leaves with a pointed tip and jagged edges. Remember, leaves of three, let it be!

Before the day got too hot, the youth picked up trash all over the College Woods area and from East Rock Park Rd, the one-way street that leads to Whitney Ave. We were all disappointed to see the garbage left behind from 4th of July celebrations and hope that people will be more respectful of the park in the future! Almost 10 trash bags were filled. After that, it was time for a break and everyone did some icebreakers to get to know each other better. For the final project of the day, the youth got to work clearing out some of the invasive species they had identified earlier in the day by the intersection of Orange Street and English Drive. It was hard work and we decided to work at it over the course of the week.

On Wednesday the youth started the day by cleaning up the playground in College Woods. They cleared out the leaves, weeded, and put the sand back into the sandbox where it belongs.

Janaysha, Janyla, Adner, and Keturah hard at work cleaning the playground.

Then it was time to clear off the steps leading to the water, which had become covered with leaves.

To end the day, the youth continued their work by English Drive and started ripping out a big patch of knotweed, an invasive species that had taken over the corner. Throughout the day, the youth got acquainted with some of the wildlife in the park.

When the youth arrived on Thursday, College Woods once again had a ton of trash to pick up, so we spent the morning cleaning it up. While picking up trash, one of the youth found a turtle by the basketball court. We decided to gently place it in a bucket and carry it back down to the water so it wouldn’t get injured.

We returned the turtle safely to the water.

While down by the water, we decided to learn how to skip rocks. Adner was by far the best rock skipper! To end the day, we walked to the Cedar Hill playground and cleaned it up. The youth raked leaves away from the inside of the fence and swept the pavement. Because it had rained the day before, the leaves were wet and heavy and we decided to leave the rest for tomorrow.

Janaysha, Keturah, Janyla, and Adner cleaning up leaves in the Cedar Hill playground.

To end the week, the youth began spreading mulch around the College Woods entrance. They got through one mulch pile, and then it was time to be interviewed by a Daily Nutmeg reporter for an article on the Youth@Work program. A link to the article will be put in a future blog post once the article is published! The youth then ripped out the rest of the knotweed patch before heading up to the Cedar Hill playground again. Along the way, they picked up trash from the side of the road. Everyone picked up multiple buckets full of trash. Once at the playground, the youth got most of the rest of the leaves before heading home to enjoy the weekend!

Janaysha, Janyla, Adner, and Keturah spreading mulch.
Before and after the knotweed was ripped out!

We will see you again next week!

Youth@Work 2021 Week 4

Friends of East Rock Park (FERP) Youth@Work is proud to present the accomplishments of our youth for 2021! The following will highlight the tasks and activities for Week 4. This was the last week of the program for 2021, but please stay tuned for FERP Youth@Work 2022!

On Monday, the team started by spreading two mulch piles near the entrance of the park at the intersection of Cold Spring and Orange Street. After a few hours of hard work, the area was looking so much better!

After mulching, the team got started on painting their own trash cans! The youth learned that to make the paint stick, we needed to apply a primer and an enamel base. Our primer was white, while our enamel base was a pale yellow. We needed to paint these layers today to allow them to dry so we could paint our designs on Tuesday!

We also watered the Greenspace to ensure that the wonderful plants we planted will survive! Finally, we ended our day with our cleanup of trash around College Woods. We filled up about five buckets of litter!

We started Tuesday by watering the Greenspace, then headed over to our trash cans to decorate them! Each student received their own trash can and got to decorate it head-to-toe! These trash cans are now displayed all across College Woods. Maybe now people will be less inclined to litter?

Noor, Keturah, Adner, and Deja pose with their final products!

Wednesday morning, the group worked on cleaning up the single staircase on the White Trail that leads up to English Drive. This staircase was covered with dirt and leaves. Many of the plants were overgrown to the point where the staircase almost was not visible! After working for a few hours, this staircase is much more safe and inviting.

Next, we placed FERP Youth@Work signs all over the park in the areas where we worked. Next time that you visit East Rock Park, see if you can find them!

The group then cleaned up trash one last time on the one-way road that leads from Livingston Street to Whitney Avenue. We still filled up three buckets of litter. We are hoping that people will continue to take care of this area after Youth@Work ends!

Keturah and Deja cleaning up the one-way street.

Finally, we headed over to the East Rock Park Overlook and got started with cleaning off the stairs by raking leaves, removing weeds, and shoveling dirt off them.

On Thursday, we returned to the East Rock Park Overlook to continue cleaning! We started up at the top of the overlook to remove weeds, rake piles of leaves, rake the gravel, remove dead plants, cut back overgrown plants, and finish the stairs. Now you can actually see the cliffside from the overlook, and it is a much more inviting place to sit!

We also found a turtle in College Woods during our cleaning session. The turtle was getting too close to the road, so we brought it down toward Mill River. The turtle ran to the water to get a good swim!

Next, the team spread our last mulch pile. We used some of the mulch pile to fill out the empty-looking areas in the garden outside the Ranger Station. Funny enough, we ended mulching in the same area that we started!

To end the day on a fun note, the team kayaked on Mill River! For most of us, this was our first time kayaking. We found so many lily flowers and lily pads!

On Friday, the youth worked together to prepare their posters to present their accomplishments to their friends and family. Because the youth had done so much this past month, they had so much to present!

The youth presented their accomplishments to their loved ones, toured their families to see the worksites they cleaned up, and celebrated with pizzas supplied by David Shimchick!

Program Supervisor Morgan Korzik, Deja, Ander, Noor, and Keturah pose with the posters!

Thank you so much to David Shimchick, FERP, Chris and Regina from URI, Dr. Chris O’Brien and Sophia Gambale, Tim, Kathleen, Sabrina, Savannah, MakeHaven, Kingfisher Adventures Kayak Rentals, and of course the youth’s families for helping shape their experience and encouraging them to push forward with their hard work! The youth did a wonderful job, and as their Program Supervisor (Morgan Korzik), I am so happy to see how they grew as individuals and as a team over the past month.

Although FERP Youth@Work 2021 has come to an end, please stay tuned for Youth@Work 2022!

If you would like to volunteer with Friends of East Rock Park, or simply learn more about the organization, please follow the link here:

Youth@Work 2021 Week 3

Friends of East Rock Park (FERP) Youth@Work is proud to present the accomplishments of our youth for 2021! The following will highlight the tasks and activities for Week 3. Please stay tuned for information on future weeks as we continue our park stewardship!

It is hard to believe that we already finished Week 3 of the program!

On Monday, we started by watering all of the wonderful plants, including trees and flowers, that we have been working with FERP to plant in the greenspace. The trees were definitely thirsty!

Then, the team walked over to Cold Spring Street. Three mulch piles were delivered on the edge of the park to cover some of the dead areas. This mulch will not only make the park look better, but it can provide good insulation to grow healthy plants! It took a great deal of hard work, but the team spread two of these large much piles.

Mulching had taken quite a bit of time, so the team ended with our weekly trash pickup in College Woods. We also traveled along the White Trail that connects Orange Street to Rice Field. There was so much trash along the trail that we could not collect it all, but the youth collected as much as possible. By the end, we had filled up approximately 15 buckets of trash!

On Tuesday, the team met bright and early to water the greenspace again. This time, we lightly watered the plants to avoid overwatering.

Adner and Noor watering the greenspace.

The youth then met FERP leader David Shimchick over at Whitney Garden. Although the area appeared to have been somewhat cared for, the team cleared out weeds, removed excess dirt and moss, removed dead leaves, and swept the area. It already looks so much better!

The team followed our Whitney Garden adventure with a walk along the White Trail. The shade was much appreciated! We even stopped by the Eli Whitney Museum to see Whitney Falls. Due to the breeze, we actually could feel the spray from the water. We also saw a mama duck and two of her babies!

Once we got back to College Woods, the youth took a break and completed a Reflection Activity. During this activity, the youth each found a bench somewhere in College Woods. They put their phones aside and sat for 15 minutes. The youth wrote focused on their senses and wrote down things that they saw, smelled, heard, felt physically (like with their hands and feet), and felt emotionally. We came back together and shared some of the things that we wrote down. The youth thought this was a good activity to ground themselves and work on their observation skills!

To wrap up the day, the youth worked as a team on a Resume Building Activity. This activity took multiple days, but on this day, the team worked together to write down four lists: (1) what tools they had worked with at Youth@Work, (2) what activities they did in the program, (3) which areas they completed park stewardship activities in the park, and (4) what they gained from the program.

Some items from those lists are below:

Tools we worked with: buckets, rakes, shovels, brooms, hose, hand saw, loppers, hedge clippers, trash grabbers, hand shovels, wheelbarrow, mulching forks, steel rakes, etc.

Park “activities” we did: mulching, trash pickup, planting, devining, cleaning the playground, hiking, watering plants, removing invasive plants, identifying plants, etc.

Keturah and Adner working on group’s lists.

Where we worked: Ranger Station, playground, Cold Spring, Colonial Spring, Orange Street, Whitney Garden, etc.

What we gained: teamwork, confidence, social skills, mulching skills, leadership, friendship, sense of accomplishment, time management, overcame fears, attention to detail, etc.

Keturah, Adner, Noor, and Deja working on the group’s lists.

The youth will be utilizing this information later to formulate their own resumes, highlighting their accomplishments from Youth@Work!

Wednesday morning, the group started with a few minutes of trash pickup in College Woods, focusing on the areas around the Ranger Station, playgrounds, and basketball court. Even though we had just cleaned this area on Monday, it was already filled with so much trash! We filled up five whole buckets of trash just from these few areas.

The youth spent the rest of their day on a field trip to the University of New Haven, where Program Supervisor Morgan Korzik is a graduate student. The youth started with a general tour of the university. For many of the students, this was their first time on any college campus. They were able to see different classroom styles, dorms, dining halls, and event spaces. This was great exposure for any youth that do decide to attend college later!

Then, the youth met with Sophia Gambale at the Wildlife Forensics Laboratory led by Dr. Chris O’Brien at the University of New Haven to learn more about how their passions for the environment can be applied to future research and careers. The Wildlife Forensics Laboratory houses multiple animals and insects that are big components of research relating to forensic and environmental science.

For example, Sophia explained how one of the projects revolves around how some chemical components in birth control are not easily filtered out of the water and enter our ecosystems, potentially influencing the aggression level of crayfish.

We also learned that Fundulus fish are scavengers that will eat almost anything! The lab is trying to learn if these fish prefer their normal diet or decomposing remains. This could have a great impact on death investigations for remains that are discarded into the water because it may be difficult to interpret evidence that has been eaten away by Fundulus.

Next, Sophia showed everyone the lab’s collection of roaches! This included Cave Cockroaches, Death’s Head Cockroaches, and Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. The kids even got to pet them, in addition to a millipede!

Next, the youth met the stars of the lab – Ratner, Drake, and Pineapple! These three rats are being trained to detect human remains. Search dogs are currently used for this purpose, but rats could be beneficial to get into tight spaces that are difficult for humans or dogs to reach. For example, these rats may be able to find remains in the rubble of collapsed buildings. These rats are being trained to wear harnesses and will one day be able to be tracked with GPS!

Sophia also showed us the crayfish that are being used in a water temperature experiment. The lab wants to see how abnormally high and low water temperatures can influence crayfish behavior. Climate change has caused fluctuations in water temperatures, so this research can help scientists know what to expect from future crayfish behavior. The youth learned that bottom feeders, like crayfish, play a critical role in the ecosystem because any changes in their population will influence everything that comes after them in the food chain!

After learning how caring for the environment can lead to a fun, hands-on, and animal-fueled career, the youth met with four graduate students at the University of New Haven for a Q&A session about transitioning from high school to college, job applications and interviews, stepping out of their comfort zones, and following their passions.

We did not want to pressure the youth to go to college, but we did want to give them an opportunity to ask questions to people who recently went through the process. Us graduate students wish we would have had that opportunity while in high school! Tim, Savannah, Kathleen, and Sabrina gave the students tips on trying new things, finding their passions, and starting early on professional development.

On Thursday, the team started by picking up trash again in College Woods around the Ranger Station and playgrounds, then picking up trash on the one-way street leading to Whitney Avenue. Didn’t we just do this? Unfortunately, we have to keep picking up trash because it keeps piling up! Hopefully people will one day take better care of East Rock Park and not litter in the first place.

Next, our group worked hard to spread the last of the three mulch piles that were delivered on Cold Spring Street. Now the area looks cared for and is ready for new plants!

The youth teamed up with FERP and Urban Resources Initiative (URI) Intern Chris to continue planting in the greenspace! This day, we helped FERP plant Christmas Tree Ferns, Solomon’s Seal, Wintergreen, Columbine, Sweet Fern, and Milkweed. One of the best things about Milkweed is that it is great food for caterpillars, which will definitely grow into beautiful butterflies in the native species garden!

The youth ended the day by taking a tour of MakeHaven, a non-profit makerspace in downtown New Haven. We learned that the space has many tools and equipment to encourage creativity, including necessities for welding, woodworking, metalworking, sewing, baking, candle making, resin making, 3D printing, and so much more! This was the youth’s introduction to the vast possibilities for crafting and creativity. Thank you for touring us around, Kate Cebik!

When the youth arrived bright and early on Friday morning, the weather was actually somewhat cool for once, so we got started with mulching! We worked on two piles at the end of Orange Street. These piles were spread over areas where the youth had previously removed invasive plants and debris!

Adner, Noor, Deja, and Keturah pose after a great mulching job!
Silly photo time!

Next, the team removed a patch of invasive Knotweed at the end of Orange Street. Although there is plenty more Knotweed in the park, we certainly made a big dent today! Removing this Knotweed is important to allow our native plant species to flourish.

The youth took a long and well deserved break after all their hard work! Then, we continued with our Resume Activity. Adner, Noor, Deja, and Keturah worked together to articulate their Youth@Work accomplishments in the form of a resume. Each student even drafted their own resume in their notebooks, and Program Supervisor Morgan Korzik even typed them up. Now each student will leave the program with a resume!

Finally, the youth worked together to water all the great plants in the greenspace. The plants all needed some hydration before the weekend!

Thank you for reading! Join us next week for our last post for Summer 2021, as this year, the Youth@Work program is only four weeks long.

Youth@Work 2021 Week 2

Friends of East Rock Park (FERP) Youth@Work is proud to present the accomplishments of our youth for 2021! The following will highlight the tasks and activities for Week 2. Please stay tuned for information on future weeks as we continue our park stewardship!

Our second week came and went so quickly!

To start off our week on Monday, the team started with our weekly trash cleanup in College Woods. Thankfully, there was not too much trash this week, but we still filled up five garbage bags!

Adner, Noor, Keturah, and Deja searching for trash in College Woods.

Then, the youth moved on to clean the outside of the Environmental Center. The youth raked and removed weeds from the gardens, removed weeds from around the stone wall, and swept the excess dirt and mulch back into the right places. Look how inviting the entrance to the Environmental Center is now!

David Shimchick from FERP joined the youth to teach them how to identify and remove three invasive species: Bittersweet, Multiflora Rose, and Knot Weed. Bittersweet and Multiflora Rose are both vining plants that can twist around native plants and strangle them to death. Knot Weed can grow tall and outcompete native plants. Invasive species often have to be removed by an outside force, like our youth, because they can lack natural predators, allowing those invasive species to grow uncontrolled. By removing these invasive species, we enable native Connecticut plants to flourish!

Finally, the group finished by spreading two mulch piles near the new greenspace on the Orange Street side of the Environmental Center. This was an important step to tying the new greenspace together!

On Tuesday, the youth returned to work bright and early to continue clearing out invasive species. The youth cleared Knot Weed from two spots at the end of Orange Street. Then, these areas were raked and cleaned out of any dead plants and leaves. This took about two hours, but these areas look so much better now!

We ended our day by taking a long walk from the East Rock Park Ranger Station all the way up to the summit and back down. We weren’t sure we could make it all the way, but the youth persevered and rewarded themselves with a nice break at the top, looking out over the city. The fog actually made the view pretty cool! The youth were proud that they pushed themselves to push through our hike.

Deja, Noor, Adner, and Keturah pose for a photo!
View on our walk.
Incredible view from the Summit!

On Wednesday, the youth tackled a big task. We cleaned the two staircases that surround Colonial Spring. When we arrived, the staircases were so full of leaves and overgrown invasive Multiflora Rose that it was difficult to walk through. The youth removed invasive plants, raked the steps, cut back overgrown plants, shoveled out dead leaves, and blew excess dirt out from the staircases. By the end of our hard work, these staircases looked amazing and so inviting!

Keturah, Adner, Noor, and Deja pose after working hard!

Then, the youth went back to work with cleaning up the outside of the Environmental Center. This day, we filled in the empty areas of the gardens with new mulch. This helped the area look cleaner and will provide good insulation for the plants growing in the garden.

We ended our day by returning to East Rock Park Road, the one-way street that connects Livingston Street and Whitney Avenue. We cleared the trash off this street last week, but it was already filled with disgusting trash again. The youth worked hard to clear this street for a second time, filling up seven garbage bags of litter! We hope that fewer people will litter so we will not have to clean this street again next week.

On Thursday, the youth continued with our project to remove invasive plants. We focused on removing Multiflora Rose and Mugwort on the trail leading from Orange Street to Rice Field.

On the way, we stopped by Colonial Spring to remove vines from one of the trees. This tree was becoming suffocated by these massive, twisted vines and was starting to die. The youth cut the vines as high and as low as possible, allowing the existing vines to die and decay off the tree, while also trying to prevent the vines from regrowing. Hopefully a tree was saved today!

We returned to College Woods to help the FERP volunteer group plant flowers in the new greenspace. We were joined by Chris from URI, who helped guide us through the planting process. There were so many flowers to start, but with so many hands and great teamwork, the job went by quickly! We also worked with the FERP to alter the shape of the mulch that surrounds the greenspace to allow for easier grass mowing.

Our great big team, including URI, FERP, and FERP Youth@Work!
Noor, Deja, Keturah, and Adner enjoying a little break!

Because the heat was becoming unbearable, we had to say an early goodbye!

To finish up our week on Friday, the youth first met back at the greenspace that we have been working on. The youth created mulch “donuts” around all of our new plants. Although these “donuts” are not yummy, they are important because they help water soak into the soil around the plant’s roots rather than running down the hill. After creating our “donuts,” the youth watered every plant in the greenspace. It was a hot day, so the plants were thirsty!

Afterward, the youth traveled to Cold Spring to cleanup the area. Although there was very little trash, the area was overgrown with weeds, and many dead leaves were stuck down in the spring. After a few hours of work, the spring was looking so much better!

We found a cute little orange slug along the way!

The group took a long and well deserved break after cleaning Cold Spring. The students ended the day with a Plant Identification activity created by the Program Supervisor, Morgan Korzik. The youth were given photos of various plants in East Rock Park and were asked to locate the plants. Using an app called iNaturalist, the youth photographed the plants to learn their names and whether they are invasive or native to the park. This was a fun way for the team to work together and develop their attention to detail!

That wraps up Week 2 of FERP Youth@Work! Stay tuned for another update next Friday to continue hearing about the students’ work.

Youth@Work 2021 Week 1

Friends of East Rock Park (FERP) Youth@Work is proud to present the accomplishments of our youth for 2021! The following will highlight the tasks and activities for Week 1. Please stay tuned for information on future weeks as we continue our park stewardship!

FERP Summer Interns led by their supervisor, Morgan Korzik: Keturah, Noor, Adner, and Deja. Malachi could not join us on the day that we took this picture.

For 2021, the FERP Summer Interns are Keturah, Noor, Adner, Deja, and Malachi. These great youth are led by their supervisor, Morgan Korzik.

To start off our first day (Tuesday), the youth started tackling the playground. This playground is actually rather large, so it had to be split up over multiple days. The youth removed weeds and leaf debris from the inside and outside of the playground. Then, they returned clean sand back into the sandboxes.

Finally, we finished about a third of the playground!

After we cleaned the playground!

After taking a break, the youth worked hard to pick up trash in College Woods. There was a good bit of debris near the roadside after July 4th. By the end of an hour and a half, we had filled up about seven bags of trash!

Noor, Keturah, Malachi, and Ander picking up trash on Orange Street.

Finally, we started spreading mulch in a natural area near the intersection of Cold Spring and Orange Street. There were three large mulch piles to start, but the youth managed to spread two and a half of them! Due to the heat, we decided to finish the rest on another day.

We met bright and early on Wednesday to continue working on the playground. Again, we started taking out weeds, removing leaf debris, and putting clean sand back into the sandboxes.

Keturah and Noor cleaning up the playground.
Done with the playground for the day!

Next, the youth moved on to pick up trash from Livingston Street and East Rock Park Road (the one-way street that leads to Whitney Avenue). There was so much trash on this street that it took us ten trash bags and almost two hours to clean it all! While we cleaned, the youth expressed how disappointed they were with how little care some people have for our environment. However, many of the people in the cars that passed us stopped to tell the youth “thank you” for their hard work to make a difference.

The youth took an ice cream break after their hard work! Then, we decided to split into two teams to do a little scavenger hunt. The youth were tasked to find and photograph different things in the park like bees, the summit, the canoe access area, flowering plants, and more. This caused the youth to work in teams and look at the park through a new lens!

Adner and Keturah searching in the scavenger hunt.
Malachi and Noor pose for a photo during the scavenger hunt.

We ended our day by returning to those mulch piles, and although we did not finish our mulching adventure, we made so much progress!

Noor, Malachi, and Keturah spreading mulch.

For Week 1, we had to end our week on Thursday due to massive storms on Friday. We returned to the playground to continue our cleanup. There were so many weeds in this last portion of the playground, but everyone worked hard to remove them!

After taking a break, the youth met with the Friends of East Rock Park (FERP) volunteer group and Urban Resources Initiative (URI) to remove invasive mugwort and plant four new trees (three rhododendrons and one witch hazel) at the greenspace near Orange Street. It was a blast getting to meet new people, learning about our local ecosystems, and seeing how much of an impact we can all make on the environment when we work together!

Chris from URI teaching the youth and FERP volunteers about how to identify poison ivy and mugwort.
David Shimchick showing the youth and FERP volunteers the plan for developing this greenspace.
Keturah, Noor, Adner, and Deja pose for a photo after working hard to plant rhododendrons.
All done planting three new rhododendrons and one new witch hazel tree in the developing greenspace!

The youth ended the day by helping Regina Sung, URI’s ParkScore Intern for Summer 2021. Regina’s job is to survey the parks in the City of New Haven to determine the quality and quantity of their amenities, which can help the city equitably invest in parks on the neighborhood-level. The youth split into groups to count the number of benches, trash cans, light posts, signage, grills, and more in College Woods. We learned that College Woods has many more benches than other parks in the New Haven area.

The youth will be back bright and early on Monday morning to continue their park stewardship!

Youth@Work 2019 Week 1

Friends of East Rock Park (FERP) is proud to share the accomplishments of this year’s group of Youth@Work students.



These are the great stewards of 2019 under the supervision of Kenyanna Martin:  Wisam, Jordan, Jerrell, Cameron, and Kassandra.

2019 marks the eleventh year FERP has run this program.  The youth work 25 hours per week for 5 weeks and are paid minimum wage by Youth@Work, a public-private partnership of the City of New Haven and Workforce Alliance.  FERP is grateful to Gwendolyn Busch and her team at Y@W for their support and administration of this excellent program which placed hundreds youths in positions this summer.

FERP is also grateful to Roger Ibbotson for his generous contribution which has paid for the youths’ supervisor, which for the second year in a row is led by Kenyanna Martin. We could not run this program if it were not for his financial support.

FERP is also grateful to Ranger Dan Barvir for his support of the program and for working directly with us on several occasions. Thanks also go out to Mayor Harp, Parks Director Rebecca Bombero, Bill Carone and Martin Torresquintero for their ongoing dedication to the maintenance and improvement of New Haven’s vast park system which consists of over 2,275 acres of park land and all the facilities located in 142 parks!!

Week 1 Accomplishments:

  1. Picking up trash  in College Woods
  2. Cleaning and mulching the front entry to College Woods at Orange and Cold Spring.
  3. Pulled invasive mugwort and mulching the Cold Spring Steps Garden.
  4. Pulled more invasive mugwort and mulched  the small garden in front of the  playground.
  5. Picking up MORE trash on Betty’s way  Trail to Rice Field and the View Street Playground in Cedar Hill.



Week 2 Accomplishments:
Monday morning Trash pick-up as always !

cleaned playground, by raking leaves and putting sand back in sandbox

Clearing out invasive plants  along the side of the park on Orange street

Mulching and sweeping up dirt from the College Woods entrance





Youth@Work 2016 Week 4

Welcome back!

Flowers in bloom at the Pardee Rose Gardens, which the team visited on Thursday!

The second-to-last week of our program was all about getting work done! We want to be sure that we help out as much as we can during our 5 weeks, and leave East Rock Park a little nicer than we found it.

Monday, July 25th

To start the week off, we did a trash sweep of College Woods. We do this sweep every Monday morning, and every Friday afternoon to make sure people can enjoy a nice, clean park.

After our sweep, we worked on bringing sand that had blown out of the playground back where it was suppose to be.


This was a hard job, but the kids loved playing in the bog piles of sand we brought in for them!


On Monday, we also had the honor of meeting with Susan Holahan, from the Tom Holahan Park Foundation, that provides the funds to make this program possible. She showed us the memorial for Tom in College Woods, and told us about how dedicated he was to peace and social justice. It was very inspiring to hear how this program began. We would like to thank the Holahans for everything they do that makes our important work possible!

After chatting with Susan, we began work removing layers and layers of dead leaves in the trees along Cold Spring Drive.

After a lot of work, and A LOT of leaf piles…


…We got this area looking good as new! Now, grass will be able to grow!


Tuesday, July 26th

On Tuesday, we began working on the College Woods entrance garden!


It was overgrown with mugwort and other weeds, and covered in dead leaves. You could’t even read the sign from the street!

We began work by pulling out all that nasty mugwort, and bagging it up so it wouldn’t re-root anywhere in the park.



Wednesday, July 27th

This morning, we got right back to work on the entrance garden! We cleared all we could from the area around the sign, mulched it, and we weeded and swept the area leading into the park.

20160802_124303And the end result was well worth all the hard work!

Thursday, July 28th

On Thursday, the team headed back to Pardee Rose Gardens to help out with another volunteer day! But this time, the team hiked from the Trowbridge Environmental Center at College Woods to the gardens. The great system of trail got us there quick!…And in the shade!


The great system of trail got us there quick!…And in the shade!

At the rose garden, we got to work helping them to weed out most of their larger beds. They were getting a delivery of mulch that afternoon, so they wanted to have the beds as clear as possible to help suppress future weeds!


Friday, July 29th

Friday was a VERY rainy day, so the team spent it in the rangers station, working on their posters and presentation for the end-of-the-program dinner celebration next week!

How time flies! See you next week!