For 16-year-old SCA alum Jordan Chow, serving a three-week stint with SCA was just the beginning. After his 2012 summer crew position at Allaire State Park in New Jersey, Jordan came home and took a closer look at conservation volunteer opportunities in his own community in Chappaqua, New York. "I returned from SCA and found out that there were no similar volunteer opportunities at our school," he says. "But I wanted to continue what I did at SCA and give back to the environment by working on trails... so I started a group with two of my friends. What initially began as a three-man operation turned into a crew of thirteen – and it's still growing."
Jordan's volunteer group, dubbed "Trail Mix," focuses on helping local parks maintain their trail systems. Jordan and his friends manage all aspects of the club, from working out logistics of events to recruiting new members. While Trail Mix is based at Horace Greeley High School in Westchester County, the group travels to participate in projects around the greater metro area. Since the club's inception in September, the group has already organized six independent service events – including two at Westmoreland Sanctuary in Mount Kisco, three at Teatown Reservation in Ossining, and one on the South County Trailway. After Hurricane Sandy, Trail Mix members came down to New York City to join other SCA alumni at a clean-up event at Hudson River Park.
Trail Mix members were eager to help with the storm recovery effort. "All of our members were affected by Hurricane Sandy," Jordan says. "Over ninety percent of our town lost power, and fallen trees blocked many roads. We missed school for six days. The storm showed us how powerful nature can be, and that we should all be more aware of how we are affected by the environment." As they worked to clear storm debris and restore plantings along waterfront paths at Hudson River Park, Trail Mix members proved that trail work comes in many different forms. "You don't have to be near a forest to help the environment," Jordan pointed out. "There are plenty of opportunities for conservation even in the city."
Whether working in the woods or on the urban waterfront, many of the club's members hope to continue pursuing conservation service. As club leader, one of Jordan's goals "is to have more of our members apply for positions with SCA." At least two members are planning to apply for SCA positions this summer, and Jordan hopes to serve as an SCA intern or corps member a few years down the road. His summer crew experience left a lasting impact. "The best part of my experience was making new friends that I still talk to today and seeing our work directly benefit the people using the trails," Jordan says. "While we were clearing and blazing sections of trail, we encountered bikers, hikers, and horseback riders who often stopped to thank us for making the park more user-friendly. This made us all feel great that all our hard work was appreciated."
Post by Ann Pedtke
, SCA's New York City Outreach Coordinator