Connecting with youth through conservation in New York City

Quiz: How many wildlife refuges and national parks are in New York City?

The answer is 10 – probably a little higher than the average guess. In a concrete jungle, it’s easy to overlook the available cultural resources, which in New York, range from historical hotspot Ellis Island to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens. If you’re really adventurous, in less than an hour, you can be at one of nine national wildlife refuges on Long Island or at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey, a leafy oasis just over 20 miles west of Times Square.

Last weekend, Latino youth leaders got a special look at the two sites thanks to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service partnership with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). A group of 100 high school and college-aged students divided and conquered, attending field days at Ellis Island and Gateway National Recreation Area, where they engaged with the outdoors and heard from FWS and NPS professionals. The event came on the heels of a four-day LULAC national youth convention that included workshops, leadership training, education panels, a career and college resource fair, and other opportunities.

At Jamaica Bay, attendees plunged into the water, suiting up in life vests to kayak and rubber chest-high waders to sein along the shore. The students then heard from FWS and NPS rangers about national wildlife refuges, national parks, endangered species, what we’re doing to stop illegal wildlife trafficking and what first steps to take to jumpstart a career in conservation.

Below are some photos of the action at Jamaica Bay–a day so filled with sand, saltwater, and wildlife that the skyscrapers across the water may have seemed more out of place than the birds feeding along the shore.


Leilani Sanchez, a Service wildlife inspector, discusses how she got involved with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and how the Service is combatting wildlife trafficking. The students are looking at items that were seized because they are illegal to import/export.


NPS ranger Carol Williams, FWS wildlife inspector Leilani Sanchez and students are seining to inspect the critters of Jamaica Bay.


NPS ranger Carol Williams, FWS wildlife biologist Emarie Ayala, FWS wildlife inspector Leilani Sanchez and students look at their findings from seining in Jamaica Bay.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s