Written By Joshua VanBrakle.

Posted on August 29th, 2016.

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This spring, we were fortunate enough to work with some senior students from Columbia University to develop new MyWoodlot content centered around rain gardens and nature-based craft projects.

We’re a small team here at MyWoodlot, so whenever we get the chance to work with another group to expand our content, we get excited. We had just such an opportunity this spring with an excellent team of college seniors from Columbia University’s Sustainable Development program.

The partnership started in January when Dr. Radley Horton contacted us. Dr. Horton teaches the program’s Capstone Workshop, a senior-level course where students work in groups with real-world organizations. Past student groups have created course curriculum for the NYC Urban Park Rangers, researched ways to reduce stormwater pollution, and studied flooding impacts in Bangladesh.

Dr. Horton wanted to know if we would like to be one of the organizations students could work with. We thought, “Hey, I bet these creative, energetic, knowledgeable students could come up with some cool outdoor projects for landowners!” So we told Dr. Horton we’d be happy to participate.

Our group included 7 students: Louis Choi, Matthew Coughlin, Katherine Hreib, Daniela Lapidous, Leah Matthews, Elisa Mirkil, and Shayna Orens. Over the course of the semester we worked with them as they developed and refined their ideas. We also arranged a field trip up to the Catskills so they could see some woods firsthand (that can be hard to do in Upper Manhattan).

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Students from Columbia University’s Sustainable Development program met with the MyWoodlot team at the Ashokan Reservoir to talk woodlands, water quality, and the importance of private woodland owners.

When the group finished in May, their results thrilled us. It took us a few months to get everything through our publication cycle, but now you can check out the work these students did firsthand. They created two sets of activities: Build a Rain Garden and Make Crafts from Your Woodlot.

These students have now graduated, and if their work with us is any indication, they’re headed for amazing things. To these students I want to say, on behalf of the entire MyWoodlot team, best of luck and many, many thanks for all your help!


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