BQLT’s Summer 2023 Interns

The BQLT kicked off an internship program for high school students this summer that continues into the fall, thanks to grant support from the Land Trust Alliance. Working with amazing partners at Brooklyn Technical High School and New York University, we have been able to expand our community and our conservation goals by bringing young New Yorkers into our gardens and our organizational work! As part of the same capacity-building project we have also hosted two graduate student research fellows from Urban Democracy Lab at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study.

Megan Cooper served as our first ever Youth Engagement and Education Fellow in Summer 2023! She led our interns on field trips/tours, including: Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, and Peconic Land Trust. Megan created the weekly curriculum, which involved coordinating numerous workshops (soil, compost, tree care & pruning, rainwater catchment, raised bed building, and garden organizational structure to name a few). Megan organized garden work sessions with gardeners and BQLT board members at 12 BQLT gardens—-9 in Brooklyn and 3 in Queens! Megan is a Syracuse University student studying International Relations, English and Textual Studies, Spanish Language and Literature and shared her love of urban nature with BQLT and the interns this summer!

Our amazing summer intern class of six students included: Samiha Akter, Rodney Guo, Mohammed Islam, Teja Kuwayama, Mir Mosabbir, and Alex Shannon! We’re so glad they joined us this summer and their work made a BIG impact at 12 BQLT gardens!

We’ve been very impressed with their energy, dedication, insights, and interest in community gardens! Our BQLT gardeners and board members truly enjoyed hosting and sharing their knowledge/skills with these young gardeners! Their final projects were presented at Greene Garden on the last day of the internship: Samiha’s “Culture in Gardening,” Rodney’s “Composting at Greene Garden,” Mohammed’s “Composting 101,” Teja’s “Space, Soil, Seeds: A Planting Guide for NYC,” Mir’s Renewable Resources Website, and Alex’s “Governance in BQLT Gardens.”

Kudos to our interns, Coordinator Megan, and all the Internship program team (Lori Bennett, Kate Gehring, Irene Van Slyke, and Jeanette Waters) for a successful summer!

We look forward to the upcoming fall interns and new fall Fellow!

Top row (left to right):

📷1) At Greene Garden, interns worked on weeding and perennial plantings. Interns recommended a compost system for garden waste and food scraps.
📷s 2) & 3) plus top banner photo: At Garden of Angels, interns pruned, weeded, spread many bags of mulch, and learned about the garden’s history from gardeners Charles Barnes and Mike Silvon. Mir, Mohammed, and Rodney worked with Mr. Barnes to level and tidy the 🐓chicken coop🐓 and learned how to use the weed whacker. Mr. Barnes sent the interns home with fresh eggs🍳.

Middle row (left to right):

📷4) At Greene Garden, George Lozefski from the Urban Soils Institute led a fantastic workshop for BQLT’s interns on soil types and composition, mineral content and microbes.
📷5) At United Herkimer, our interns and garden leader Tamara Bourdeau met Assemblywoman Stefani Zinerman @stefanizinerman to learn about her NYS bill A1909 (& S1082) to exempt non-profit, land trust gardens like BQLT’s from having to pay for water use🚰
📷6) Water week! BQLT interns visit NYC DEP’s Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment plant, with required tour safety gear!

Bottom row (left to right):

📷7 & 8 ) At Patchen Avenue, garden coordinator, Kim Nobrega, welcomed the group and showed off the many different crops their gardeners are growing–callaloo, bitter melons, 🥒cucumbers, 🍆eggplant, tomatoes, okra, basil, and thyme. The interns cleared many bags of yard waste, pruned, and rebuilt a path edging. Megan and Intern Teja hard at work on garden sign cleaning.

📷9) At Merrick-Marsden I Garden in Jamaica, Queens, the interns, Megan and garden leader Gretta Bourjolly show off one of their three newly built raised beds. Domica, BQLT Program Mgr., taught the interns how to construct raised beds AFTER they had diligently cut all the needed lumber for three 8’x4′ beds using a manual HAND-SAW!! Interns also helped weed raised beds, filled beds with fresh topsoil, collected fallen peaches and apples (for composting if inedible), and harvested ready produce for seed-saving and eating!

📷s by Irene Van Slyke, Megan Cooper, and Ashley Cruce

This Summer & Fall 2023 internship program is supported with funding from the NYS Conservation Partnership Program (#NYSCPP) and New York’s Environmental Protection Fund. The NYSCPP is administered by the Land Trust Alliance @ltalliance in coordination with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation @nysdec

Photos of Interns’ Field Trip with Peconic Land Trust staff (left) & Talk by Oyster Farmer (right) on 8/15/23

Posted on 9/7/23

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