Kids of All Kinds Clean Up the Hudson

May 30, 2019 | Community, Earth Day, Healthy Habitats, Hudson River, New York, Reserves

Daisy—who likes to munch on invasive veggies—was one of many volunteers who cleared the way for native species restoration at the Hudson River Reserve during I Love My Park Day 2019.

More than 40 people—including families, college students, and one hungry goat—attended the 2019 I Love My Park Day event at New York’s Hudson River Reserve headquarters. As part of the day-long cleanup and restoration event, they picked up trash, painted picnic tables, and cleared brush along the shoreline. The star of the day was Daisy the goat, who is skilled at eating invasive vegetation. She worked with the brush clearing team to clear an area for replanting with native flora.

Many volunteers at I Love My Park Day were families and college students. The event gave the next generation a hands-on role in stewarding our estuaries, not only for themselves, but also for future Reserve visitors.

“In our programs, we talk about environmental problems and solutions,” says Chris Bowser, the education coordinator at the Reserve. “It’s essential we make sure that everyone, especially the kids, can be a part of those solutions. When they come back to the Reserve and see the table they painted, the beach they cleaned, or the tree they planted, that adds agency and ownership to their experience. They can see that they had a real, positive effect.”

That positivity will be felt by everyone who comes to the Reserve this year. The headquarters host more than 7,000 visitors annually, many of them students. The I Love My Park Day cleanup site is the most visited and visible part of the Reserve. “Improving the site enhances our educational efforts,” says, Chris. “We can say: this is what a clean shoreline looks like, and here’s what native vegetation looks like.”

Now in its eighth year, I Love My Park Day is a collaboration between the New York Department of Conservation, New York State Department of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, and many other partners. The work at the Reserve’s headquarters was one of more than 140 cleanups that took place, engaging more than 8,000 volunteers. Together they demonstrated what a difference we can make for estuaries when we collaborate—even when it’s across species lines!

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