Field Trip Spotlight: An Interview With Bronx River Alliance

Sometimes, its helpful to get a chance to sit down to learn a little more about a program, and how it came to be. Last week we got a chance to learn more from Katie Lamboy from the Bronx River Alliance to hear about what goes in to a few of their programs. Read on to learn more!

What is your role at the Bronx River Alliance, and what does your day to day look like?

I am the Education Coordinator for the Bronx River Alliance overseeing and running most educational and our on water recreational program. A typical day will begin within our office located within the NYC Parks Department Ranaqua building. We have a strong partnership with NYC Parks and will be moving into our own location called River House which will be located within the newly created Starlight Park at the end of 2016. After a swift check of email and answering requests, I tend to head into "the field" which is indicated anywhere along the 8 miles of river that flow through the borough of the Bronx. While out of the office, I may be conducting one of the 7 different programs the Education team conducts with students aged from UPK to University. Being down by the river always breathes new life into me and I love being able to host most educational programming riverside. Programming will generally last anywhere from 2-5 hours and I will host 10-150 students within that time period.

What is your favorite program that the Bronx River Alliance runs and why?

Second to our recreational canoeing program, my favorite programming with students is our Trees in the Classroom project that was started in 2015. The program consisted of giving ten first grade classrooms seedling trees that were fostered in the classroom. The students conducted a phenology study of the trees documenting growth and change in their plant through a season. While fostered plants stayed within classrooms, students also attended 2 different field visits to the New York Botanical Garden and Bronx River Forest to compare different trees and environment along the river. At the end of the program, the students planted their fostered classroom trees within the Bronx River forest 3 blocks away from their educational institute. Parts that made this program my favorite included the way students really became attached to their trees, naming them and being sure to give them the upmost care. The students who were participated within other additional BxRA programming after the planting continue to ask how their trees were doing in the forest. To this day, a year after the program end, the students still visit their fostered trees in the forest which were tagged with their school and classroom name.

Wow! That sounds like a super cool experience for kids. Why did you decide to create it?

I created this program in order to bring nature into the classroom; to show students that nature is constantly changing and how they can make a difference in their environment by taking care of this vital environmental habitat.

In your ideal world, how would teachers incorporate your programs into the school year? Why?

I believe our programs are created to compliment things that are being taught within the classroom. We wish to take concepts that are written on a blackboard in a classroom and apply it to a students' real life and environment. In an ideal world all concepts taught would be directly related to the river, from history to science to reading. I know of a school who takes the river as a full one month intensive study where each classroom is asked to study a particular subject surrounding the river and are to present their findings in an end of month open school museum. Each classroom is transformed into a different part of the river and it is just amazing how this study has helped students think and learn in a different capacity. All students are engaged either via hands on learning or creating art (just to name a few); but, most importantly the school plays to the students strengths and encourages students to study something they find interesting about the river.

What do you hope students gain from participating with you?

I hope students would gain a sense of ownership of the river by participating in our programming. There is such a large disconnect between students and their own environment, it is hard for them to understand that "this river, is THEIRS!" By bringing them to the river in a location that is near their school or home we hope that they will continue to come to this location and want to protect it as much as we do.

What’s one secret or cool thing about the Bronx River you’d like to share?

Persons within the community have been collecting water quality parameters on the river since the 1980's! And over a million data points are available for public view via website!