Some students spent spring break at an DOE farm

It’s spring break, but some public school students are digging in for spring planting – on a farm run by the city schools department.

“We hardened the plants, which is, basically, you just get them to get used to the weather outside,” 15-year-old Bryan Peralta said. “You can’t really just put them outside or else it’ll get shocked and all that, and we’re kind of transferring them all into our planting beds, just to get them ready for outside during the summer.”

The Genovesi Environmental Study Center, tucked away in residential Bergen Beach, Brooklyn, houses a farm, gardens, a greenhouse lab, turkeys, chickens, fish and more.


What You Need To Know

  • Schools are closed this Earth Day, but Chancellor David Banks visited some students working at the DOE’s Genevesi Science Center in Brooklyn
  • The center houses a farm, a greenhouse lab, and animals like chickens and turkeys
  • There are also fish and reptiles, and classrooms to learn about things like water conservation

During spring break, students like Bryan volunteered for programs here. And on Earth Day, they led the city’s schools chancellor, David Banks, on a tour.

β€œI’m just so inspired by the kids who are here for the week. You know, everybody else is on vacation. But these kids have said they wanted to take this time and be fully engaged for an entire week, to be of service to the earth and to the environment,” Banks said.

Banks got a chance to get his own hands dirty, burying some kitchen scraps in the center’s compost heap.

In an average year, the center serves about 14,000 New York City public school students from grades kindergarten through twelve. They come here and see the animals, see the plants and learn a little bit more about environmental science.

Visitors can get up and close and personal with the animals, like Banks did, with a chicken named Penelope.

Students also had the chance to harvest eggs that the chickens lay in the center’s coop. Other students took part in a water conservation program, with an eye toward preserving the planet.

“It’s the planet that we are in now, I mean, the world that I’m in right now, and I want to believe that I have a good and clear skies of life ahead of me,” student Paulina Castro said.

Banks, who’d never been to the center before, said it was a perfect place to spend Earth Day.

β€œTo see the plants, the animals, the fish, is, it’s just, it’s just wonderful. And it raises the consciousness of young people around why it’s so important to take care of our planet,” he said.

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