Green Careers Panel Series: Education and Engagement in the Urban Environme...

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14 E 60th St

12th floor

New York, NY 10022

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Green Careers Panel Series

Interested in the environment, parks or green spaces, and urban sustainability? Looking to explore career options?

Central Park Conservancy’s Green Careers Panel Series will demonstrate how your interests can translate to careers in landscape management, ecology, urban planning, data/asset management, fundraising, social science, education, sustainability, public/community engagement, landscape architecture, and policy. Urban parks are critical to the future sustainability of cities and as population density increases they require an integrated approach from multiple professions and fields to continue to deliver social, ecological, and economic benefits to their full potential.

  • Meet students with similar interests
  • Learn about urban sustainability and resiliency in New York City
  • Meet professionals who can guide your career interests
  • Learn about potential careers in the urban environmental field

Who's invited: High School and early College students.

You will need a photo ID to enter the building.

Doors open, networking and mingling: 5:00 -- 5:30pm

Panel and moderated discussion: 5:30 – 6:30 pm

Networking and mingling: 6:30 – 7:00 pm

Light refreshments will be served.

Limited capacity, please only sign up if you plan on attending.

Education and Engagement in the Urban Environment

From citizen science to birdwatching to building trails to planting trees, environmental professionals engage people of all ages in their local environment. Hear from three education and conservation professionals that have dedicated their careers to educating people about the urban environment. Learn how you can get involved now and how to pursue academic and career interests that will lead to environmental education and conservation careers.


Bonnie Ralston, Director of Programming and Development, NYC Parks

Bonnie Ralston is the Director of Programming & Development (P&D) unit for the Education & Wildlife Unit with NYC Parks. She provides support and guidance for park-based teaching and learning through curriculum design, professional development, research, and strategic partnerships, working specifically with the Urban Park Rangers and the Wildlife Unit. Environmental Education is Bonnie’s second career, having worked in graphic design for 15 years prior, spending the majority of her design career at the Museum of Modern Art. Disillusioned with the design world, Bonnie resigned from MOMA and made a plan to thrumike the Appalachian Trail. She walked 1,685 miles in six months. That experience was life-changing, whereby she reconnected to herself, the natural world, and committed herself to working for the greater good.

After returning to NYC, she began investigating careers in Environmental Education. She was an intern with the New York State Department of Conservation, via the Student Conservation Association, and a garden educator with the Horticultural Society of New York. While in graduate school, she worked for two years as a teacher-naturalist for Audubon New York, and as a Compost Coordinator for GrowNYC. Before her current position, she worked as an Environmental Education Coordinator for Central Park Conservancy for just over three years.

Bonnie has a Bachelors of Fine Arts from Hartford Art School, and a Masters of Science in Ecological Teaching and Learning from Lesley University.

Kelly O’Donnell, Director of Science Forward, McCaulay Honors College

Kelly O’Donnell is a plant evolutionary ecologist and the Director of Science Forward at Macaulay Honors College. She was hired in 2013 to design and implement this new science program which consists of a variety of components that promote scientific literacy. Science Forward is a skills-based curriculum framework and Open Educational Resource (OER) suitable for a variety of student audiences and learning environments. The main goal of Science Forward is to have students practice the skills that scientists use when they do their work and be engaged in the process of science. It includes both life and physical sciences to demonstrate how these skills are common across all scientific disciplines. Science Forward at Macaulay is a required course for our sophomore students and it begins with a 24-hour species diversity survey (a BioBlitz) in an urban green space.

Her role is made up of a lot of different types of activities and is firmly placed in the alternative academic, or “alt-ac”, area. It is a combination of administration, teaching, citizen science, and often, video production. She came to this position from a teaching-focused post-doc at Columbia University. Prior to that, she worked on her PhD at Stony Brook University where she researched natural selection in invasive Japanese knotweed. She knew early on that she wanted to be more pedagogy-focused in her career than was typical for the graduate students in her program. She plans on continuing to be involved in work that addresses scientific literacy and promotes good scientific pedagogy.

Rachel Lettre, Eastern Program Director, Student Conservation Association

Rachel Lettre is SCA’s Eastern Regional Program Director and joined SCA in 2001. Rachel is responsible for the development and oversight of SCA’s Eastern Programs including youth and young adult programs. In this role, she works collaboratively with federal, state and local land management agencies, non-profit organizations, and partner organizations to develop innovative conservation service programs. Rachel brings over 20 years of experience engaging underserved populations in urban communities including Washington DC, Newark, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City. She received a B.A. in Outdoor Recreation and Resource Management from Indiana University and a postgraduate degree in Outdoor Education from Edinburgh University. Prior to SCA, Rachel worked as an environmental and outdoor educator in residential, backcountry and urban settings.

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14 E 60th St

12th floor

New York, NY 10022

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