New York City Urban Field Station

Green Collar Jobs

[photo:] Green jobs - need descriptionIn partnership with the Million Trees NYC Campaign, the USDA Forest Service committed $2 million to create a program called Restoring Community Ecosystems in New York City.  This was both a job placement program for Million Trees Training Program graduates and research on the impacts of green jobs in urban natural resource management. This program was designed to achieve the following three objectives:

  • Stimulating the economy through hiring low-income residents.
  • Enhancing the urban environment through the restoration of trees, forests and forest ecosystems on a wide-range of sites. 
  • Science-based understanding of the impacts of green jobs programs as pathways out of poverty.

Up to 50 young adults from low income communities in New York City were employed in good paying jobs working on restoration of their city’s urban ecosystems.  The aim was to help these young adults embark on careers in the growing field of urban natural resource management and restoration – a Green Industry. Participants worked on environmental restoration efforts in neighborhoods, parks, gardens, wetlands and forested ecosystems across New York City’s five boroughs.  These jobs directly supported MillionTreesNYC, a key PlaNYC initiative designed to restore the city’s trees, forests and forest ecosystems during the next decade. Forest Service units (Northeastern Area,  Northern Research Station, and, the Eastern Region through Urban Connections) helped coordinate the program. 

In the research component of the project, Forest Service staff, in conjunction with local New York City partners, documented and analyzed opportunities for and barriers to employment in the fields of urban forestry and urban ecological restoration.  The project used science-based monitoring and evaluation to help understand the impacts of green jobs programs as pathways out of poverty.

On June 30, 2010, MillionTreesNYC, the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, and the New York City Council on Economic Opportunity convened a workshop focused on improving the transition into green collar jobs.  Titled "Supporting Success: Making the Transition to Green Collar Jobs" (1 mb pdf - you may download a free pdf reader from Adobe), this day-long event included a panel discussion from experts, followed by roundtable discussions, and a keynote address.   The report from the workshop shares lessons learned as shared by experts, practitioners and trainers. The workshop was organized with supplementary funding support from the USDA Forest Service Civil Rights Special Project Fund. 



[photo:] Tree climbing demonstrationIn partnership with the Horticultural Society of New York, the New York City Urban Field Station developed a Green Collar Mentoring Series. The goal was to teach teenagers living in public housing about environmental careers through sessions with leaders in the urban environmental, forestry, and horticulture fields who are themselves from minority communities. The project introduced young people to themes of ecological awareness with a focus on very real educational and career development opportunities. Outreach sessions at New York City Housing Authority community centers included discussions of potential opportunities for stable employment and advancement in these fields, and the importance of environmental literacy and natural resource management in the urban environment, supported by hands-on field projects. Research components were integrated into the sessions to provide meaningful data for future programs. The project was supported with Forest Service Civil Rights Special Project funding.