The Central Park Conservancy, in partnership with the New York City Parks Department, is the great caretaker of America's most frequented urban park-25 million visitors annually-covering 843 acres. Founded in 1980 by Elizabeth Barlow Rogers and a group of civic and corporate leaders, the conservancy today maintains the park, restores and conserves its 51 sculptures, monuments and historic buildings, creates educational programs for 30,000 students annually and offers recreational programs for thousands at the North Meadow Recreation Center.
Conservancy crews aerate and seed lawns; rake leaves; prune and fertilize trees; plant shrubs and flowers; maintain ball fields and playgrounds; remove graffiti; conserve monuments, bridges, and buildings; and care for bodies of water and woodlands, controlling erosion, maintaining the drainage system, and protecting over 150 acres of lakes and streams from pollution, siltation and algae.
Conservancy education programs focus on environmental science and park history; recreation programs for youth, families, community organizations and schools; and a volunteer program for youth and adults in horticulture. Moreover, the conservancy organizes hundreds of free public programs throughout the park, primarily at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, Belvedere Castle, the Dairy and the North Meadow Recreation Center.
Students, teachers and administrators who enjoy taking their instruction outdoors will have a literal field day in Central Park, where the natural environment serves as a laboratory for learning.
Classes for School Groups: A number of 90-minute classes are offered, including Dirt on Dirt, about how soils are formed, and Keeping It Green, which combines park stewardship with environmental education.
Youth Leadership Program for High School Students: A variety of opportunities for teens (ages 14 to 19) to go behind the scenes and get involved in the park are offered; all programs fulfill community service requirements for high school students.
ROOTS (Restoration of the Outdoors Organized by Teen Students): Students complete a hands-on ecological restoration project in the Hallett Nature Sanctuary, including the removal of invasive plants, planting native plants, and constructing a rustic trail for future tours.
Media Outreach: Students serve as the voice of Central Park to other young people through various media, including a teen-focused Web site, a digital video and map of Central Park.
Teen Docent: Teens study Central Park history, ecology, restoration and management, then use this knowledge to write guided walking tours for other youth groups (application deadline: September 30).
Community Service for High School Students and Youth Groups: Students participate in a youth-led ecological restoration project in the Hallett Nature Sanctuary; all projects meet high school community service requirements. The conservancy also offers summer internships (application deadline: April 30) and summer jobs.