Youth Eco-'Cuse Explorers: Growing Food

This year’s Youth Eco-‘Cuse Explorers  (YECE) are digging in the dirt and learning about food security and urban agriculture. As a part of a NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s environmental justice grant, explorers are getting firsthand experience in cultivating their own crops in the city.

2012 YECE Update

YECE youth and OEC planting a rain garden
YECE youth and OEC planting trees at Kirk Park

The 2012 Young Eco-'Cuse Explorer (YECE) program ended with 9 children (11-14 yrs old) going to NYSDEC's summer  camp in Adironacks and then doing hands-on projects in the fall with our partner groups Onondaga Earth Corps (OEC) and Onondaga Environmental Institute (OEI).  Together, we planted a demonstration rain garden off Newell Street and planted trees in Kirk Park, an initiative of Cornell Cooperative Extension.  These Saturday activities finished our 2012 program.

Eco-'Cuse Explorers Learn about GI

Eco-'Cuse Explorers Learn about GI
Eco-'Cuse Explorers Learn about GI
Eco-'Cuse Explorers Learn about GI

On March 24 Young Eco-'Cuse Explorers (YECE) had their second session at the Dunbar Center.  They learned about the problems with storm water runoff and the importance of good storm water management. With the older youth of the Onondaga Earth Corps, the YECE played with a watershed model watching how runoff can pollute our waterways.  Then they explored how Green Infrastructure can help keep this pollution in check.

Team Building for Eco-'Cuse Explorers

Team Building for Eco-'Cuse Explorers
Team Building for Eco-'Cuse Explorers
Team Building for Eco-'Cuse Explorers

On Saturday, Febraury 11 at the Dunbar gym,  the POC, Onondaga Earth Corps and Onondaga Environmental Institute led a team building session for the ten Young Eco-'Cuse Explorers between the ages of 11 - 14.

Each month the youth will gather to learn about Green Infrastructure (GI).  They will learn from OEI and OEC staff and  OEC youth (15 -19 years old) who are trained and hired to install GI.  The POC and OEC hopes the Eco-'Cuse Explorers when they age out of the younger program will apply for a job at OEC. Besides the monthly program in Syracuse, during the summer the Explorers will go to a DEC week-long camp in the Adirondacks to further their environmental education


NYSDEC Awards POC and Its Partners a 2012 Environmental Justice Grant

The Partnership for Onondaga Creek (POC) and Onondaga Earth Corps (OEC) are pleased to announce the award of $49,967 by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to their joint project called “Growing Syracuse’s Next Generation of Environmental Justice Leaders”. Out of 123 state applicants, the POC/OEC project is the sole winner for the Central New York region. The award will be administered by the groups’ fiscal sponsor, the Onondaga Environmental Institute.

“OEI is pleased to serve as the fiscal sponsor on this project,” stated Onondaga Environmental Institute President Edward Michalenko. “The project’s goals to empower youth to be active participants in creating positive change for their communities and the environment aligns nicely with OEI's mission to advance environmental research, education, planning and restoration in Central New York. Amy Samuels, OEI’s Education and Outreach Coordinator, is excited to provide youth technical training and mentoring.”

Urban youth go to DEC's Camp Pack Forest

Urban youth go to DEC's Camp Pack Forest

For the last three summers, the NYSDEC has provided camperships to Partnership for Onondaga Creek for Syracuse's urban youth. This year on July 10, Maresh, Anthony and Sherwin went to Camp Pack Forest for a week-long experience for 15-17 year olds. And on July 24, Jakev, Eric, Abby and Danielle went off to Camp Pack Forest for a similar week but this time the experience was for 12-14 yr. olds.

Besides the camperships valued at $325, this year the DEC helped with transportation providing a van & driver.  Previous years, the POC had to worry about how to get the children to camp.  Since it is three hours away by car, near the Vermont border, the POC was very grateful for the help!

POC strategy meeting

On May 21 from 9 am to 2pm, Partnership members reviewed its mission and the issues that it is committed to.

With facilitating help from Bob Graham and Jessica Maxwell, the POC examined its mission and the issues that the group wants to work on.  We also looked at sustainability and community recruitment.  Some useful ideas and recommendations came out of this meeting, namely, how to share the burden of various initatives and how to recruit more community members and train our future EJ leaders.

See the attached summary document for this meeting.

DEC Campers visit Karen Kerney's orchard and garden

On Saturday morning, May 14, seven Syracuse youth who are signed up for a summer NYSDEC camp, visited Karen Kerney's Jamesville orchard and garden. 

The seven campers were accompanied by four POC members.  After touring Karen's place,  we learned about soil and the plants Karen was growing. We tried our hand at a few gardening tasks and Karen coached us on how to hoe properly.  And at the end of our morning, Karen served us a treat right from the vineyard, homemade grape juice.  It was a wonderful local outing exposing us all to the benefits of raising your own food.

DEC Campers Cleanup the Creek

Cleanup on Hovey Street along Onondaga Creek

From 9 to 11:15 am POC members, the Creek Rats, urban youth and ESF students picked up trash along Onondaga Creek & Hovey Street. At 11:15 am we walked two blocks to Aggie's at 340 Midland Avenue and had pizza and soda. This cleanup was the first local outing for the youth going to NYSDEC summer camp.