Youth@Work 2015

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

Fatima, Kay, Bahaa, and Joshua

Fatima, Kay, Bahaa, and Joshua

2015 marks the seventh year FERP has run this program.  The youth each worked 25 hours per week for 5 weeks and were 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 over 650 youths in positions this summer.

FERP is also grateful to two great Friends of East Rock Park:  Susan Holahan and Roger Ibbotson.  Susan (through the Tom Holahan Memorial Fund) and Roger generously contributed $1500 each to pay the youth’s supervisor, which for the second year in a row was FERP leader David Shimchick.  We could not run this program if it were not for their 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, Deputy Director Christy Hass, Gary Dickinson, 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:

  • LOTS of trash pickup in College Woods from the July 4th celebration
  • Cleaned and mulched the front entry to College Woods at Orange and Cold Spring.
  • MORE trash pickup along East Rock Park Road leading to Whitney Gate
  • Mulched the new plantings at the East Rock Road Bridge.
  • Cleaned the Whitney Gate Garden.
  • Pulled invasive mugwort and mulched the Cold Spring Steps Garden.
  • Swept the College Woods Playground and shoveled sand back to where it belongs.
  • MORE trash pickup on the White Trail to Rice Field and the View Street Playground in Cedar Hill.
  • Raked and removed weeds and vines from the View Street Playground.
Entrance to College Woods

Entrance to College Woods

Filling Ranger Dan's truck with mulch.

Filling Ranger Dan’s truck with mulch.

Amid all the freshly mulched plantings at the East Rock Road bridge.

The crew resting amid all the freshly mulched plantings at the East Rock Road bridge.

Bahaa and Joshua with all the tools to clean Whitney Gate.

Bahaa and Joshua with all the tools to clean Whitney Gate.

An immaculate Whitney Gate Garden

An immaculate Whitney Gate Garden

The Cold Spring steps garden leading up to College Woods - free of invasive mugwort and freshly mulched!

The Cold Spring steps garden leading up to College Woods – free of invasive mugwort and freshly mulched!

The crew tackles the College Woods playground with brooms and shovels!

The crew tackled the College Woods playground with brooms and shovels!

It didn't look like this when we started!!!

Spic and span for the neighborhood kids and all the visitors to College Woods.

The crew tackles the entrance to the View Street Playground in Cedar Hill.

The crew tackles the entrance to the View Street Playground in Cedar Hill.

Week 2 Accomplishments:

  • Monday morning Trash pick-up!
  • Cleaned the lone staircase leading up from the White Trail to English Drive and the steps at Colonial Spring.
  • Cleared invasive knotweed at the end of Orange Street.
  • Spread mulch where we will plant daffodils in the fall.
  • Hiked to the Summit and up the spiral staircase to the top of the monument.
  • Weeded and spread mulch over at the East Shore Park butterfly garden.
  • Planted trees with Edgewood Y@W.

Nice work, Team!


A little break by the Mill River.


Look at all that invasive knotweed!


Learning about butterflies from Ranger Dan.


The team amid the weeded and mulched butterfly garden at East Shore Park.


Meet and Greet at Edgewood Park before a few hours of tree planting.


Susan Holahan welcomes the two Y@W crews to Edgewood Park.


Fatima and Kay hard at work.


Kay and Fatima wonder why they are the only ones working!!


URI’s Ross Bernet gives some pointers on proper tree planting.


The combined crews pose with some neighborhood kids around the newly planted tree.


Knotweed is no match for this team!!

Week 3 Accomplishments:

  • Did a complete trash pick-up loop:  all of College Woods and East Rock Park Road to the Whitney Museum and back along the White Trail.
  • Primed barrels for annual trash can painting project and practiced block lettering and drawing.
  • Mulched a BIG pile on Cold Spring.
  • Worked with Ranger Dan over at the half basketball court across from Rice Field.  While he pruned the enormous Copper Beach we picked up all the cuttings.
  • Mulched at the end of Orange Street with members of the Land Trust Y@W crew.  Picked up trash at the Summit after hiking up.
  • Painted and decorated the 5 trash barrels with Aicha!

The crew primes the trash barrels so the top coat and painted designs adhere better!


Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’.  Fatima and Bahaa keep on Rollin’!


Pruning the Copper Beach behind the half basketball court at Rice Field with Ranger Dan.


Thanks to the New Haven Land Trust Y@W crew, we spread this massive pile of mulch in record time.  Many hands make light work.  Well, not exactly light.


Don’t be messin’ with this power team!


Not a bad view for picking up trash!


Cody joined our painting ranks again this year and shared his artistic talents!


From start to finish this was Bahaa’s barrel!


We were so very lucky to have Aicha lead the barrel painting project again this year. Take a look below at what these initial white lines became!


Isn’t that just amazing?


It was all about Flower Power for Fatima!


Mission Accomplished.

Week 4 Accomplishments:

  • Began the week with our first and only rainy day.
  • Indoor research about New Haven’s extensive park system and its challenges.
  • Visited the CT Agricultural Station on Huntington Street to learn from entomologist Gale Ridge and from Dr. Goudarz Molaei and his team at the Tick Testing Laboratory.
  • Built raised vegetable beds with the Land Trust Y@W team at Casa Otonal on Greenwood Street.
  • Cleaned Whitney Circle, the semi-circle overlooking the reservoir.
  • CANOEING with Y@W Land Trust and Y@W Edgewood.
  • Hauled MASSIVE amounts of trash from a steep hillside behind the Whitney Musuem with Y@W Edgewood.
  • Removed weeds from the stone dust between the Ranger Station and the pavilion.

Entomologist Gale Ridge showed us magnificent specimens from the CT Agricultural Station’s collection.


Y@W East Rock Park joined forces with Y@W New Haven Land Trust at Casa Otonal.


David steadies the drill for Fatima.


Kay and Fatima don their safety glasses to cut supports for the raised beds.


Two built and two more to go.


Great Power Tools Project!  Great Teamwork!  Great Mission!  Great to work alongside former FERP leader, Justin Elicker, Executive Director of the New Haven Land Trust.


Whitney Circle was filled with trash and leaves, and overgrown with weeds.


While Joshua shoveled decaying leaves onto the tarps


Fatima and Bahaa scraped the surface and removed weeds growing in the cracks.


With shovels, rakes, tarps and brooms the team transformed Whitney Circle from this…


to this…


and THIS!  That is quite a transformation!


This DISGUSTING amount of trash


had been thrown from Whitney Circle


and was strewn up and down the steep terrain in the area of the park behind Whitney Museum.


Joshua and David dragged it off the hillside


and Bahaa and Fatima dragged it further down to the trail.


We filled the wheelbarrows several times because the only way to get the trash out was to wheel in through the covered bridge to the truck on the other side. We were grateful for help from Y@W Edgewood.  Shame, shame, shame on the individual(s) who thought our park was the appropriate place to dump this garbage.


Thankfully, the day was not all about disgusting trash as the three Y@W crews met up to go canoeing on the Mill River thanks to the Parks Department.



With paddles in hand, we were soon on our way up the Mill to the Covered Bridge, down to the flood gates, and back to the Orange Street launch.


Weed filled stone dust before


our tenacious crew


made a difference to finish out our work for the week.

Final Week’s Accomplishments:

  • Shoveled and spread 5 tons of stone dust at the start of the White Trail on Orange Street.
  • Weeded and mulched around the Copper Beach, River Birch, small trees, and fence at the half basketball court across from Rice Field.
  • Shoveled and spread 5 more tons of stone dust where the trail meets Whitney Circle.
  • Celebrated our 5 weeks of work with family and friends and shared photo boards of all our accomplishments.

Stone dust is dense and HEAVY!


We covered these exposed roots which were a hazard to walkers and runners heading down to the White Trail from the end of Orange Street.


We made it safe from both directions.


Thumbs up, indeed!


It was back to the half basketball court and lawn across from Rice Field to weed and mulch around these river birch,


and along the fence,


and under the massive Copper Beech we pruned last week.


The 2015 Team:  David, Joshua, Bahaa, Fatima, and Kay


We shoveled this second 5 ton pile of stone dust into the wheelbarrow


and hauled it over to fill this deep and dangerous access to the White Trail leading from Whitney Circle.


We sure hope all the runners and hikers appreciate our efforts!


The power of youth!


At our Celebration we feasted on delicious food from Mamoun’s with family, friends, and FERP volunteers.


Kay’s grandmother Betty Thompson, mom Kenya, and sister Nadya, joined in the celebration.


Joshua shared photos of the team’s work with his mom and friend.

Wrap up:

It was another busy and productive summer for our Youth@Work stewards. Their dedication, cooperation, and willingness to work hard through the summer heat and aching muscles was remarkable.  Joshua, Fatima, Bahaa, and Kay did more than earn a paycheck for five weeks.  They made a difference.

About ferpyouth

FERP (Friends of East Rock Park) is a community and environmental advocacy group based in New Haven, Connecticut. We encourage neighbors to meet each other, celebrate the environment and become stewards of the park. We build connections by hosting social events and work days, and supporting other neighborhood efforts. FERP collaborates with Youth@Work to hire six interns and a supervisor for 5 weeks to help maintain the park and to become educated in the perks of stewardship and community involvement.

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