Carlos Cruz is a freshman at Lehman College majoring in Accounting. Currently, his favorite course is economics, where he is fascinated by how macro and micro economics interplay in the lives of people. The Green Team is where he grew from being shy to a confident and trustworthy leader. His pivotal experience was a Sandy Hook camping trip where his team sat around a campfire exchanging stories, which was an incredible bonding experience for him. In his free time, he enjoys basketball, hiking, and quality time with his family.
Kevin Encarnacao loves the outdoors and experiencing new environments. He especially enjoys Wallkill and Lisha Kill Nature Preserves, and spending time on the trails in his own neighborhood. A Yonkers High School senior, Kevin aspires to be an aerospace engineer designing aerodynamic vehicles that are not only fuel-efficient but also safe for astronauts. Kevin draws inspiration from nature’s unique mechanisms and design, which help inform his robotics. He loves the Green Team’s ability to complete complex tasks under time constraints, particularly when they had to build a trail and lay sod fencing around the sides. He is amazed by how dynamic, cohesive, and efficient his team navigated this task with extra time to spare!
Nicole Velazquez loves the outdoors and the natural world. During a trip to Stoke State Forest in New Jersey, she was fascinated by the brown bats she saw in their natural habitat but is concerned about how climate change may compromise the bats’ existence in the future. As a senior at Saunders Trade and Technical High School, she hopes to study nature conservation and sustainability so she can help maintain flora and fauna for future generations. Nicole appreciates an uphill battle, and with her Green Team family she feels teamwork and honesty can help overcome any challenges they face in the future.
Nicole Mercedes is a Yonkers High School senior with strong interests in Theatre and Biology. She loves how the Green Team has a diverse mix of students from different schools and enjoys how that helped push her outside of her comfort zone. For Nicole, the Green team isn’t just about working with plants, but also about leadership skills and developing relationships. She has fond memories of camping at Wallkill Nature Preserve, where along with her teammates, she removed invasives, bonded over board games, and developed a spirited camaraderie. Nicole believes the Green Team has helped her develop a deeper awareness of climate change and is glad she can do her part in being a sustainability-minded human being.
Kerry Mills is a Yonkers Montessori Academy senior with interests in Environmental Science. Topics that interest her are bioremediation and water ecology. Her favorite memories of the Green Team include a trip to Van Cortlandt Park where the team was tasked to remove the invasive water chestnut plant. It was a fun way for her to learn about how these invasives outcompete native plants and how to control their growth. Working with the Green Team has helped her expand her circle of friends and she is grateful for the lessons and growth she gained throughout her experience. She helped create her school’s Environmental Club to encourage her classmates to be more mindful of the impact their waste has on the environment.
Asheley Munoz’s trip to Yellowstone National Park in 2019 was one of her favorite memories of the Green Team. She loved how Yellowstone’s parks were so expansive, beautiful and peaceful, and didn’t mind at all that her phone didn’t have reception; it was the perfect way to engage with her favorite teammates. Traveling to new places is one of the coolest things about the Green Team because she might not otherwise have gone on her own. Asheley is a Saunders Technical High School sophomore and is currently interested in the medical field. With family in neuroscience medicine, she loves the idea of working with and helping heal people.
Nicholas Marji loves the Green Team because of its inclusive environment, supportive staff and the multiple opportunities to be outdoors. During his trip to Yellowstone, he marveled at the sight of the Milky Way galaxy at night, the crisp air, and camaraderie with friends. Other awesome memories include camping at Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island, where he and the team got a tour of the fort, which he appreciated since he loves history. Nicholas has a lot of pride in the Green Team because it helped him gain leadership experience, develop soft skills, and improved his interpersonal relationships. A Saunders Trade and Technical High School sophomore, Nicholas is interested in electric and computer engineering, with circuitry as one of his favorite classes.
Gabrielle Schnorbus doesn’t think the Green Team is like any work she’s ever done. She’s gained leadership and speaking skills and her teammates are now like family. She appreciates how dedicated the staff are to teaching and helping students like her gain an appreciation of working with the environment. One of her favorite memories was a three-day conference she attended with Groundwork USA and the West Virginia Fish and Wildlife Service. She was fascinated by how many opportunities there are for her to incorporate sustainability into better business practices. As a Yonkers High junior, it inspires her to know that money management, accounting, and environmental stewardship can all be interwoven to grow companies large and small.
Belinda Asare is a Mercy College freshman studying Biology with aspirations of being a pediatric physician. She is driven to help others around the world and is interested in Global Health. She thinks the welcoming environment of the Green Team creates a familial atmosphere that makes work days go by quickly. Road trips to work sites are fun because they play games together, sing songs, and laugh like family. Belinda appreciates all the time she spends outdoors with the Green Team because she wants to do her part to keep her local community clean and beautiful. With the trail work, removing invasives, and the nights out camping, Belinda feels happy and grateful for her experiences.
Briana Marcano is a Riverside High School senior who loves mathematics. She feels productive knowing she is part of an organization that can make a focused and actionable change in her community. Engrossed in the ways we care for urban environments, Brianna believes deeply in childhood education in environmental subjects. She hopes to one day be a teacher and loves how her school robotics team challenges her in new ways; she aspires to use that knowledge to advance sustainability along with her intuition, leadership, enthusiasm, and tenacity.
Christopher O’Buck thinks joining the Green Team was the greatest employment decision he has made so far. At first he was reserved because it was such a new experience with so many new faces, but now he loves the Green Team like family. Christopher now sings in the car with his team on the way to work sites, helps others stretch outside of their comfort zones, and is slowly getting other Green Team members into punk music. A Lincoln High School senior, Chris hopes to study Psychology because self-awareness has a positive influence on others and he would like to make others feel more comfortable. You’ll probably never see him looking down on a bad situation, he always has a positive outlook.
Mohamed Deumah feels that the Green Team is a great community and the work provides him a sense of accomplishment. It’s fascinating to him how his team improves green spaces and supports the environment. Mohamed loves the beauty and serenity of the great outdoors and wants to help keep it safe and secure. A Saunders Technical High School Senior, Mohamed is interested in either the sciences or the medical field. He loves learning and finding innovative ways to solve problems and work toward effective solutions.
Destiny is a Senior at Riverside High School, and for her, the Green Team is her first job. She learned the dynamics of a work environment and how to be accountable to her teammates. Not just any first job, Destiny's experience has helped her discover the parks and trails unique to Yonkers. Currently, her favorite subject is art, and she dreams of one day becoming a graphic designer. One of her favorite Green Team memories was wading through the Saw Mill River, removing trash and invasives. "It was physically challenging and mentally draining. It is tough work, but we were all the better for doing it, and so is our community.”
Jadonna Williams, a Senior at Roosevelt High School, believes the Green Team made her more open-minded and motivated to help the environment and local ecosystems. She loves the camaraderie with her other team members because "we are happy doing dirty work." In school, Jadonna's favorite class is English, and though she is unsure what career she wants to pursue, she believes teaching is a great way to help others grow and learn. Her favorite Green Team memory was when she was selected to be a team leader for the day. Although she was initially nervous about her abilities, the team came together. They supported her, making her feel confident to lead the work and complete the tasks.
Pedro is a Junior at Roosevelt High School. To him, the Green Team is a great program where ordinary youth can do extraordinary things. Working for Groundwork brings awareness to local environmental issues that he never thought about or even knew affected him. One of Pedro's favorite memories was practicing archery at Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge. It was an entertaining way to compete with his team and gain a new skill!