Yonkers teens combat climate change through summer job

A recent UN report says it’s too late to stop global warming environmental consequences, but local teens in Yonkers say they’re up for the challenge.

News 12 Staff

Aug 13, 2021, 9:43 PM

Updated 1,036 days ago

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A recent UN report says it’s too late to stop global warming environmental consequences, but local teens in Yonkers say they’re up for the challenge.
The local teenagers are putting in hard work, even in 90-degree weather.
"The sun is blazing, and we are in an area that doesn’t have a lot of canopies,” says one volunteer.
Emperatriz Ojeda is one of 25 Yonkers teens hired by Groundwork Hudson Valley to work on the green team to tackle climate change in the city.
They were working along the Saw Mill River, which often floods the parkway on Friday.
Youth program manager Victor Medina says planting willow trees-a native species will help.
"The Saw Mill flooded at least once this past summer,” says Medina. “They are going to grow those roots and are going to hold the soil longer periods of time."
The Green Team’s initiative is a forward-thinking natural flood mitigation project that includes cutting back invasive plants like these vines.
"What they basically do is wrap around the trees and slowly start suffocating it,” says participant Brianna Rodriguez.
News 12 is told an increase in native trees could help with another environmental concern.
"We did rankings of neighborhoods and we found the neighborhood that I live in was ranked number one most vulnerable to extreme heat,” says Rodriguez.
Rodriguez lives in one of several heat islands in Yonkers outlined in red on a heat map.
According to the map, the islands that run up to 30 degrees hotter coincide with historically segregated neighborhoods where trees are scarce and concrete is king.
"I didn't know until I worked on the green team that this affected me,” says Rodriguez. “I think we all owe everything to the earth so…we should do everything we can to protect it."


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