Description

Some 635 acres in eastern Queens are made up of woodlands, open meadows and expansive marshes that are home to 300 species of birds—mostly migratory fowl—and other wildlife.

The environmental center, at the north end of the park, is especially strong in children's programming, though there are numerous adult activities as well.

Family-oriented programs include nature hikes and birding, lessons in astronomy and geology, art workshops, cross-country skiing and even a tour of a city water tunnel. This last subterranean excursion is particularly helpful in demonstrating irrefutably that water does not originate in the kitchen tap. There's a small petting zoo with rabbits, snakes, turtles and other creatures, salt and freshwater aquariums, an organic garden and apiary.

Workshops address environmental issues ranging from endangered species to toxic waste. The center has earned a rare designation as a National Environmental Study Area by the National Park Service.

Students ages 14 to 18 can earn credit for volunteering at APEC by joining the Youth Volunteer Program. To be a youth volunteer, candidates must submit a completed application, pass a telephone interview, attend an orientation and be reliable.

Programs for Seniors
Programming available for senior centers; call for details.

Families

Family-oriented programs include nature hikes and birding, lessons in astronomy and geology, art workshops, cross-country skiing and even a tour of a city water tunnel. This last subterranean excursion is particularly helpful in demonstrating irrefutably that water does not originate in the kitchen tap. There's a small petting zoo with rabbits, snakes, turtles and other creatures, salt and freshwater aquariums, an organic garden and apiary.

Programs include age-appropriate monthly courses of four sessions each for children ages 18 months to 10. Special events include March's Arline Thomas Urban Bird Arts Contest, honoring a local bird rehabilitator, and April's Arbor Day ceremony with tree planting and park cleaning, followed by an Earth Day celebration. In May, the center hosts Family Fun Day, and in June, it celebrates World Environment Day. For Halloween, the center plans a variety of activities for toddlers and children of all ages. Year-round, it hosts birthday parties for children ages four and up.

School/Groups

Students with interests ranging from treehouses to recycling will be fascinated by the center's many educational programs. School groups may attend two-hour workshops that raise environmental awareness through presentations, animal petting and nature walks; one-hour tours that include field observations and activities; or one-hour early childhood programs with titles such as Ducks, Swans and Geese, Oh My!

The center also brings nature and wildlife into the classroom through its in-class program, Animals Alive. This program includes a hands-on introduction to the center's animals, an arts-in-science project and optional slide show for 30 or fewer students. Assembly programs include discussion and a question-and-answer period with visuals, live animals to pet and teacher follow-up materials.

APEC also provides seasonal one- to two-hour field trips for older students (grades 6 through 12) on topics such as Pond Study and The Wonders of Alley Pond's Wetlands. Acid Rain Monitoring is done as a year-round school visit program for this age group as well. PROBE (Project to Research Our Bay Environment) is an ongoing volunteer program for high school juniors and seniors. From April to October, students test the waters of Little Neck Bay and collect data.

The Summer Outreach Program opens up the world of nature for a group of up to 30 children. There are many summer programs available for groups of 60 or fewer, starring such creatures as Checkers the Rabbit and Petie the Snake.