Department of Environmental Conservation

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New York City Environmental Education Program

DEC's environmental education staff offers a number of environmental programs throughout New York City. The four over-arching programs are the After School Conservation Club (ASCC) program, the NYC Camps Diversity Program, strong professional development programs for educators, and providing public outreach and school programs on environmental topics. Our goal is to increase environmental awareness to foster more informed decision-making and get youth and adults out studying and enjoying their local environment.

Do not forget that DEC has a curated list of Remote & Virtual Learning resources, including pages on Special Needs Learning Resources & English Language Learners, educator resources & professional development opportunities, and activities & lesson plans from around the world. You can access them through the Caregiver, Parent, Grandparent, & Educator Resources While at Home page.

Virtual Group Programming

As we all adjust to teaching and learning from home, DEC educators are here to help! We can join your virtual classroom and share information about natural history topics, conservation and stewardship opportunities, or pursuing a career in the environmental field. These programs are free for any group or class that is interested. Below are some of the available topics but feel free to contact us if you have an idea or subject area we might be able to help out with. Scheduling programs is easy and we are often available nights and weekends as well.

To Schedule a virtual session, Email: Please include "Virtual Programming" in the subject line.

Virtual Program Topics Can Include (Not Limited To!)

  • Mammals of NYC - Learn about mammals that live in the five boroughs and their adaptations by exploring real furs and skulls. Explore where they live, how they survive, and how we can keep them safe.
  • Reptile Revelry - Meet a few scaly creatures face to face and learn about what makes them special, as well as how some of them connect us to New York City's wilderness. Live animals will be presented as well as reptile artifacts.
  • North American Safari - Think you need to go around the world to see exciting wildlife and beautiful ecosystems? Explore the exquisite nature that we have right here! Join in on virtual tours of our local biomes, and ask questions about the animals that live there.
  • Urban Wildlife Safari - Explore the streets of New York City and some of our most amazing parks on this virtual safari to look for animal habitats and wildlife signs all around us.
  • Marine Beach Safari - There are so many interesting things we can find on the beach that tell us about the animals that live there. Explore an ocean-side beach from the comfort of your couch as we explore this habitat and learn about the creatures who call it home.
  • Windowsill Nature Art and Journaling - By connecting art and science, we can see nature in a whole new way. Journals have long been used by ecologists to study animals and plants. Learn about the science behind nature journaling and nature art by exploring the world at your windowsill.
  • Nature Q&A - These programs are focused on the questions you have about the natural world, environmental conservation, or environmental careers. A short presentation will be followed by questions your group has prepared. Topics include Signs of Spring, Household Insects, Stargazing, Conservation Technology, Environmental Careers, and Biomes of NYS.
  • Explore the Forest (Choose Your Own Adventure) - Are you feeling cooped up inside? How does an adventure sound? Choose what you want to see as we explore the forest!

Early Childhood Virtual Programs Can Include (Not Limited To!)

  • Fantastic Frogs - Get ready to hop about as we learn about frogs and how their bodies help them live in their habitats.
  • Fabulous Fish - Fins, gills, and maybe even some rhymes will sneak their way into this program as we talk about these mysterious creatures.
  • Taking Care of Trees - Learn about some of our most important neighbors: trees! We'll talk about how trees help us and the rest of the natural world. Sing, dance, and play as we learn what we can do to protect trees.

After School Conservation Club

The After School Conservation (ASCC) is a partnership with United Neighborhood Houses (UNH) and The After School Corporation (TASC) with the DEC. It is a curriculum for established after school programs to expose their elementary-aged students to the wonder of the natural environment. The mission of the ASCC program is to bring environmental education to and foster a sense of stewardship in inner-city elementary-aged children involved in after-school programs.

ASCC is set up as a two-part program: hands-on curriculum and a stewardship project. For the Fall 10-week session, students learn general environmental concepts such as what is conservation, what is a watershed, using resources wisely, and environmental ethics. During this time, they also learn about and do a stewardship project focused on recycling and composting. During the Spring 10-week session, students focus on the Hudson River Estuary, NY/NJ Harbor, water, and fish ecology, focusing on what is in their specific watershed, the anatomy of local fishes, and how humans impact the water ecosystems around New York City. The spring stewardship project usually focuses on creating habitat for local pollinators, including creating a native butterfly garden at their site.

For more information, contact the ASCC Coordinators:

SCA/AmeriCorps Educators
47-40 21st Street
Long Island City, NY 11101
P: 718-482-6404
Email: Please include "ASCC" in the subject line.

Professional Development for Educators and Youth Leaders

Education staff offer professional development workshops in environmental education. These workshops provide staff working with youth hands-on, environmental activities using the international programs of Project Learning Tree, Project WILD (Basic, Aquatic, Flying, and Science & Civics), and Project WET. The workshops range from three to six hours and usually have a nominal fee for refreshments. Each workshop showcases some of the activities in the activity guide, and, if time allows, participants will lead the rest in activity so they get a hands-on experience using the guide under the watchful eye of a facilitator. Workshops are offered all over the five Boroughs and can be arranged at a specific location if you have at least six guaranteed participants. To view a list of the upcoming workshops across New York State, please visit the Upcoming Workshops page.

Staff is also available to help educators work environmental topics into their curriculum, through providing resources for background information, providing resources, or working with educators to create lesson plans on specific environmental topics.

For more information, contact the Regional Environmental Educator:

47-40 21st Street
Long Island City, NY 11101
P: 718-482-6404
Email: Please include "Professional Development" in the subject line.

Public Outreach Programs

Are you having an environmental fair? Celebrating Earth Day or Arbor Day or International Migratory Bird Day or Water Quality Month? Are you hosting a career fair and are looking for different careers to feature? Are you looking for a speaker to talk with your church, civic, or youth group on a particular environmental topic? Or looking for hands-on activities to engage youth about their local environment?

Education staff can come and host an interactive table at a fair or festival your school or group is hosting. They can come and talk about environmental careers, and occasionally, they can bring other DEC staff such as Environmental Conservation Police Officers to talk with youth about their environmental careers. Contact the Regional Environmental Educator at least two weeks in advance (the earlier the better as staff and time is limited).

For more information, contact the Regional Environmental Educator:

47-40 21st Street
Long Island City, NY 11101
P: 718-482-6404
Email: Please include "Public Programs" in the subject line.