Friend of the Month- March 2016

Parker Gambino giving a lesson on insect identification at the 2015 BioBlitz in Van Cortlandt Park.

Parker Gambino giving a lesson on insect identification at the 2015 BioBlitz in Van Cortlandt Park.  Photo by Stanley McCleave.

The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park are happy to announce that our March 2016 Friend of the Month is Parker Gambino. Parker is an entomologist who has been using Van Cortlandt Park to study insects, especially bees and wasps, for years. Last year, he played a vital role in the first ever BioBlitz in Van Cortlandt Park by compiling all of the data collected. Parker has also worked with our high school interns, teaching a lesson on ecological niches and compiling data on insect use of species specific seeds for egg laying and over wintering. Currently, he spends his days teaching biology at Greenwich High School. However, he will be retiring soon and we have already started making plans for how he can work with the Friends on a more regular basis. Thank you, Parker, for all that you have done for the Friends and for helping us understand the insect world of Van Cortlandt Park. Read more »

Friend of the Month- January 2016

Ray Pultinas of Dewitt Clinton High School is our January 2016 Friend of the Month.

Ray Pultinas of Dewitt Clinton High School is our January 2016 Friend of the Month.

The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park are happy to announce our January 2016 Friend of the Month: Ray Pultinas. Ray is the Sustainability Coordinator and an English teacher at Dewitt Clinton High School. According to students, he is known as “one of the best teachers in Clinton.” And from what we have seen it’s easy to understand why the students feel that way. Ray was one of the first teachers to sign up for our Bronx Stewardship for a Healthier Bronx program launched this fall. He and his students have been a pleasure to work with and we are looking forward to making this a long term partnership. Please join us in thanking Ray for all that he does for his students at Dewitt Clinton and all that he’s doing for Van Cortlandt Park.

How have you been involved with the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park?

As Sustainability Coordinator at DeWitt Clinton High School I feel it has been part of my job and responsibility to know and share information about local environmental groups as well as other resources. I’ve known about the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park for some time and probably first learned about the group simply by frequenting the park. This current school year, however, the sustainability classes that I teach have been participating in the group’s Wetlands Stewardship for a Healthier Bronx Program. John Butler and Sara Kempton have visited my classes twice to explore with my students the topic of watersheds and topographical mapping. A group of students, parents and community members led by John and Sara toured the park on a beautiful late October morning. Read more »

A Walk In Van Cortlandt Park

Mike Zamm, Director of Environmental Education for Grow NYC and our December 2015 Friend of the Month, is assisting the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park with our Wetland Stewardship for a Healthier Bronx program.  Mike wrote this article after he attended a program lead by the Friends in the Park for the Sustainability Classes at Dewitt Clinton High School. 

John Butler of Friends of Van Cortlandt Park led a tour of the Tibbett's Brook Watershed and explained plans to daylight the brook that presently empties into the New York City sewer system wasting millions of dollars each year.

FVCP’s John Butler leading a tour of the Tibbett’s Brook Watershed for Dewitt Clinton students in Van Cortlandt Park.  Photo by Ray Pultinas.

The activity for the day was an interpretive walk in Van Cortlandt Park for DeWitt Clinton High School students led by John Butler of the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park. The ten Clinton youth are in the Sustainability classes at Clinton; they are participating in GrowNYC’s Environmental Education Program which in turn is collaborating with the Friends on a project to protect the wetlands in the park. Ray Pultinas, Clinton teacher and Sustainability Coordinator, Sara Kempton, the Director of Education for the Friends, a number of other adult chaperones and I accompanied John and the students. Read more »

Friend of the Month- December 2015

Friends of Van Cortlandt Park Friend of the Month Mike Zamm pictured with students and Bronx River Alliance crew.

Mike Zamm, second from left, with three students and Ray Pultinas from Dewitt Clinton High School and two members of the Bronx River Alliance Restoration Team

The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park are happy to announce our December 2015 Friend of the Month- Mike Zamm. Mike is GrowNYC‘s Director of Environmental Education who has over 45 years of experience in NYC schools designing and teaching topics related to the environment and sustainability. Mike Zamm is one of our key partners for our Wetland Stewardship for a Healthier Bronx playing a vital role in helping to develop the curriculum, recruit schools and lead programs. Mike has been bringing the groups he works with out into the field, including Van Cortlandt Park, for many years. We are lucky to have him partnering with us on this project and thankful for all of the work he has done in Van Cortlandt Park with his students over the course of his career. Read more »

Beginning a Bright Future for the Wetlands in VCP

Volunteers removing porcelain berry from the wetlands with Friends of Van Cortlandt Park.

Volunteers from Airbnb, Inc. removing porcelain berry from the wetlands.

Only two months into our Wetlands Stewardship for a Healthier Bronx Program and we are already seeing a great amount of support and participation. For those of you who do not know, it is a program that brings together water quality testing within Tibbetts Brook and Van Cortlandt Lake, restoration and maintenance within 5 acres of Freshwater wetlands and educational partnerships with NYC schools to experience the beauty of Van Cortlandt Park first hand.

Van Cortlandt Park is home to the majority of Freshwater Wetlands left within the Bronx and these important ecosystems could use some help. Read more »

Friend of the Month- November 2015

Council Member Andrew Cohen speaks at a Memorial Grove ceremony honoring Bronx Veterans who served in World War II and Korea.

Council Member Andrew Cohen speaks at a Memorial Grove ceremony honoring Bronx Veterans who served in World War II and Korea.

The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park are happy to announce that Council Member Andrew Cohen is our November 2015 Friend of the Month. The Councilman was involved with the Friends for many years before his current position. As a community resident, he served as an active board member for several years and supported our efforts in the Park. Once elected, he did not forget our beloved Park and continued to advocate for it. The Friends are truly grateful for the key role Councilman Cohen played in bringing together multiple elected officials and City agencies to secure the funding needed for the Pedestrian Bridge over the Major Deegan Expressway. In addition, Council Member Cohen has funded several other capital projects in the Park and has been a major supporter of our Youth Run Farm Stand. We are lucky to have someone as dedicated to Van Cortlandt Park as our City Councilman. Read more »