Diana Acocal grew up in Yonkers, believing that her tiny street was the whole world. Diana is a Junior at Lincoln High School and has participated in various extracurricular programs such as Girls Who Code, The Jump Start Program at Monroe College, an after-school robotics program, and now the Green Team! She values education, appreciates programs that offer opportunities to minorities, and is grateful to the programs she has been a part of for showing her that there is more to the world. The Green Team has been a pivotal tool that has helped her establish a sense of self-empowerment and understanding. She hopes to continue gathering experiences, educating herself about anything (and everything!), and sharing the information that she has learned with others.
Reynaldo Barreto Sanchez
Reynaldo Barreto Sanchez is a Senior at Riverside High School. Reynaldo learned about Groundwork and the Green Team during an assembly at school and was immediately interested. Reynaldo recently joined the Green Team during the COVID-19 pandemic. Outside of school and the Green Team, Reynaldo practices Tae Kwon Do. He is eager to continue his work with the Green Team and be able to learn more about environmental issues and how he can help.
Samuel Boano is a Junior at Riverside Highschool with a passion for physics and English literature. In his free time you can find him boxing, skateboarding, or watching videos on YouTube. Sharing bonding moments with co-workers, and learning about his peers is one of Samuel’s favorite things about the Green Team. Samuel joined the Green Team in June of 2020. His lack of involvement in Yonkers and desire to have his first job were his motivations for applying. Samuel feels that as a result of his new responsibilities on Green Team, he is growing significantly both personally and professionally.
Veronica Carranza is a Senior at Lincoln High School. As a Yonkers native, Veronica’s passion for change is fueled by the desire to support the city she has spent her whole life in. The Green Team has allowed Veronica to work hands-on and look at Yonkers through a new lens. Being her first season with Green Team, Veronica hopes to create new relationships, develop new skills, and strengthen old skills such as volleyball, track, languages, and art. Throughout her school years, Veronica has excelled in the sciences and is always looking to learn more about the environment. Veronica looks to overcome any challenges that come her way, and with the help of the Green Team, create a strong link between herself and nature.
Aviance Chisholm is a Junior at Palisade Preparatory School, with a passion for science. In her free time, you can find her cooking or doing all things nails, hair, and makeup. Meeting new people on the Green Team, seeing how everyone is supported, and having the ability to learn more about her community are what Aviance loves about being a part of the Green Team. Aviance joined the Green Team in the summer of 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yaritza Esteban is a Junior at Saunders Technical High School interested in medicine and environmental studies. Yaritza has always loved helping people and the environment in any way that she can. Joining the Green Team during the pandemic was a challenge, but that did not change the way that she saw this opportunity to make a change in the community. Yaritza loves to be outdoors and now, thanks to the Green Team, she has been able to have this amazing experience helping and making the Yonkers community grow. Yaritza’s favorite part of the Green Team is its wonderful staff that is always willing to help students in any way they can.
Derrell James is a Junior at Lincoln High School with a strong interest in the sciences. He joined the Green Team to gain a deeper understanding of environmental science and to develop his social and team building skills. Starting off as somewhat quiet and shy, the Green Team has given him the opportunity to interact with other kids his own age and become more social. Besides science, Derrell is also passionate about history and loves his history classes at school. The two biggest personal skills Derrell has strengthened on the Green Team are his communication and leadership skills.
Freddy Lucas is a Senior at Saunders High School with an interest in biochemistry. Freddy is one of five kids and will be the second in his family to go to college. When Freddy is not at work or taking part in a Zoom meeting, he spends his time relaxing at home listening to music, or biking around his neighborhood. Freddy had previously volunteered at the Center for the Urban River at Beczak, which is where he learned about the Green Team. Freddy joined the Green Team during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Green Team has improved Freddy’s life as it has given him the opportunity to partake in meaningful practices for the communities of Yonkers.
Briana Marcano is a Freshman at Westchester Community College with a focus on the social sciences. Briana attended Riverside High School in Yonkers where she fondly remembers being on the Robotics Team. She now returns to the school as an alum to mentor current Robotics Team students, something she loves doing! Briana joined the Green Team in the summer of 2018. Her favorite memory of Green Team is the first Green Team graduation ceremony. By being on the Green Team, Briana was able to come into her own, gaining lots of social confidence through constant verbal interaction with peers and teachers. She is super grateful for the opportunity as she recognizes how much the Green Team shaped her personal development.
Nicole Mercedes is a freshman at Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, majoring in Drama. Acting is Nicole’s true passion, but she also enjoys expressing herself through poetry, music, and painting. Since joining Groundwork in the summer of 2019, Nicole has developed a profound concern for environmental issues, and a passion for health and sustainability, specifically surrounding the Yonkers community. Working on the Green Team has improved her communication and leadership skills, as well as her confidence and ability to speak up on the issues that matter to her. She is grateful for every smile shared with her team, and it is through them that she has recognized the uniqueness of her character: a quirky girl who can always bring a little sunshine to everyone’s day! She hopes to bring this same character with her to Tisch, and seeks to make a change in the world through her performance in the arts and interest in the environment. Her acceptance into the Green Team and to Tisch have demonstrated to her the power of hard work and being active in what is meaningful to you.
Kerry Mills is a college Freshman at Carnegie Mellon University studying Technical Writing with a focus on environmental policy. Kerry is passionate about environmental activism. In high school she co-founded her school’s first environmental club which focused on introducing sustainable practices to the school, specifically improving its waste management and recycling practices. Kerry joined the Green Team in 2019, acquiring first-hand experience with her community, improving her leadership skills, and making lifelong friends. The Green Team has helped Kerry to understand the interdisciplinary nature of environmental science and community outreach. Kerry hopes to attend law school after completing her bachelor’s degree.
Chris O’Buck is a Freshman at Lehman College majoring in psychology. He loves playing guitar, listening to all genres of music, and skateboarding. The friendships that Chris has made on the Green Team are his biggest takeaway. Now in college, he is still close with most of the friends he made on the Green Team. Chris has been involved with the Green Team for three years, joining in 2018.
Emperatriz Ojeda is a Junior at Yonkers High School who loves painting with oil paints, knitting, cooking, and taking long walks. Emperatriz seeks new experiences and enjoys trying new things to give her a better understanding of herself. Emperatriz’s love for the environment was born during her time volunteering at the Science Barge. She has since then immersed herself in the changes she can make as an individual within her community. Emperatriz joined the Green Team in the spring of 2020, eager to further explore the world of environmental sciences and excited by the opportunities that Green Team has to offer.
Alessandra Ortega is a Junior at Gorton High School with interests in economics, business, and law. Alessandra dreams of becoming an entrepreneur in the future. Alessandra applied to the Green Team knowing, if accepted, she would be given the opportunity to grow both personally and professionally. Alessandra’s biggest takeaway from being on the Green Team is how important it is for us to take care of the world that we live in. Alessandra’s first year on the Green Team has been different due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this did not stop her from having an amazing time together with her peers. The work that Alessandra does with the Green Team gives her a sense of accomplishment like none other she has experienced.
Julian Ortiz is a Junior at Yonkers High School who aspires to become an environmental scientist and activist. Julian has been involved with Groundwork for many years, starting with his work on the Science Barge. He enjoys being outdoors and working to help better the world around him. Julian draws inspiration from his first days on the Science Barge where he was exposed to the magic of our natural environment. From there Julian grew a desire to protect our natural world. He loves how the Green Team allows him to work with those in his community to complete tasks that work towards environmental justice.
Brianna Rodriguez is a Junior at Yonkers Middle High School. Brianna is a very focused student and is currently in the midst of college planning and intense studies. Brianna has learned that cultivating a love for education and an aim to achieve her dreams is crucial to breaking the cycles of poverty present in her family and in others in her community. Brianna enjoys poetry, hiking, and reading science fiction books. She loves taking her dog Michael on walks around her neighborhood as he is always the best company! Brianna is passionate about a wide range of social justice issues -- being a woman of color living in a lower income neighborhood, she is faced with them daily. Being on the forefront of initiating change and bettering our society for those who are most disadvantaged by the systems and laws that govern us, is something Brianna hopes to continue to be a part of. Whichever career path Brianna chooses in the future, she knows she wants to be a voice for the voiceless within our society.
Gabrielle Schnorbus is a Junior at Yonkers High School who is interested in the interdisciplinary nature of environmental studies and how these areas can all be combined to grow companies large and small. Gabrielle’s experience on the Green Team is “unlike any work she’s ever had…” She is learning leadership and dialogue skills and is creating close bonds with other team members that she describes are like family. One of her favorite memories was the 2019 Groundwork USA Youth Summit at the National Conservation Training Center. Through lectures, panels, and connecting with other students, she was fascinated by how many opportunities there are for her to incorporate sustainability into better business practices.
Tiana Somerville is a Junior at Lincoln High School who loves acting, stand-up comedy, and playing basketball. Tiana described herself as shy and risk averse prior to joining the Green Team; which was her main motivation to apply! Tiana has been able to really strengthen her social stamina and hone professional communication skills through her experiences with the Green Team. Tiana's Green Team days are not over and she hopes to gather many more experiences being part of this special community.
Junior Zumba is a Junior at Yonkers Montessori Academy with an interest in entrepreneurship. His time with the Green Team has been an incredible learning experience and he is grateful for all he has been able to learn from working with the people of Yonkers. He believes being appointed “leader of the day” when working in the field gave him the opportunity to develop his interpersonal and leadership skills, and will in turn help him succeed in his future career. Junior’s favorite memories have been working on the Greenway Trail, where he was able to come out of his shell and really started to think of his co-workers as valued friends. Being able to see the efforts of his time on the Green Team has made him interested in continuing to learn about the environment of the community he’s lived in all his life.