With plenty of park space to learn from, some Latino high school students recently spent a week on Staten Island, learning hands-on in the borough's parks about the environment. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
At first glance, algae-covered water doesn't look very appealing, but a closer look at a sample of the water yields important information about what's going on in the environment.
"How the water is polluted, if the water is polluted. They tell us how healthy is the water," said participant Darimar Davila.
The water test is one of several field studies conducted by students participating in the NYC Minority Youth Environmental Training Institute.
Students won scholarships from the National Hispanic Environmental Council, a think-tank that works to ensure that Latinos have a voice at the environmental decision-making table.
The eight-day intensive program is based out of Wagner College, but participants spent much of their time outdoors, getting their hands dirty.
"We learn about things that is not in the curriculum and that most teachers or schools or even institutions don't teach about, but they do," said participant Marcus Prentice.
Using a STEM curriculum, students conducted air, soil, and water tests with professional grade science equipment.
The information is recorded and analyzed.
The program helps paint a realistic picture of a career in science and the environment.
Environmental professionals also volunteer their time, answering questions, teaching, and encouraging students to pursue jobs in those fields.
"Part of our role is to show them that this is science and science can be fun and try to be a role model for them and show them that you can go in there and not be afraid," said Lead Instructor Pedro Chavarria.
The idea seems to be working for at least one program participant, who's debating a pre-med or environmental science major.
"I figure I'll take this program as a way to see if this is really the career for me. And it's actually been really great because I, personally, haven't had field experience," participant Gene Bay said.
To find more hands on science, technology, engineering and math opportunities in your community, visit connectamillionminds.com.