By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Park Sloper Angelica Chery is a “Green Girl.” Even though the title sounds like she's the heroine in a comic strip, she's not. But she is a heroine of another sort.
Angelica, a budding environmentalist, recently took part in the “Green Girls Summer” program sponsored by the City Parks Foundation. It marked the second time she has spent a good portion of her summer vacation learning how to protect the environment. She first joined the program in 2011.
As a result of her most recent foray into environmentalism, Angelica has decided to devote her studies, and eventually her career, to protecting the environment. “Green Girls opened my eyes to look at the world with a different point of view and try my best to be a part of taking care of it,” she said.
This summer, Angelica helped other girls pursue their budding interests in the environment when she took part in the Green Girls Summer Institute. “I wanted to help these girls realize that they can’t take the environment for granted. I wanted them to hear about the program and gain a sense of comfort from someone who was in their shoes at the same age,” she said.
The institute focuses on science studies that address environmental justice issues through field trips, community service projects in parks, and citywide exploration.
Green Girls enjoy intensive summer experiences in a three-week institute to educate them about New York City’s vast natural and cultural resources. The program also promotes leadership skills.
The curriculum addresses a variety of science subjects, including environmental education, ecology, biology, botany and zoology. Students explore their personal potential and learn about the career opportunities that are available in the sciences.
Angelica said she never realized she was an environmentalist until she became a “Green Girl.” As a youngster, she never spent much time outdoors.
But the hands-on activities and trips to natural environments, parks, wildlife refuges and cultural institutions that Green Girls sponsored provided her with new insight into her city and global environment, Angelica said. “Green Girls gave me the chance to experience nature and access to places I didn’t know about. It helped me challenge myself and be a part of something I never thought I would do,” she said.
After her Green Girls experience, Angelica has applied to Urban Assembly New York Harbor School on Governor’s Island to take part in a program focusing on environmental stewardship. She is currently participating in the school’s Oyster Restoration project. “This project gives us a chance to get our harbor back in shape naturally, using oysters as natural bio-filters to restore it. Who doesn’t want to be a part of that? So it’s amazing to go to school and say that I am helping make a change slowly,” Angelica said.
Angelica plans to further develop her experience in Environmental Science and get a Master's degree in the field.
The City Parks Foundation introduced the Green Girls internship program in 2012. Angelica said she’s happy she took advantage of the opportunity.
The City Parks Foundation, an independent, nonprofit organization that offers park programs throughout the five boroughs, was founded in 1989. The foundation sponsors programs in over 750 parks, presenting a broad range of free arts, sports, and education programs. The foundation also encourages resident s to support their parks on a local level. For more information on the foundation, visit its website.