Now in its sixth year, UConn’s Natural Resources Conservation Academy (NRCA) has worked with over 115 teens throughout Connecticut on 10-month individual conservation projects that have directly benefited their local community and environment. NRCA students present their conservation work to over 300 environmental professionals at the Connecticut Conference on Natural Resources, and graduate from the program as CT Conservation Ambassadors.
On Monday, April 3rd, the City of Hartford Public Works Department and the Tree Advisory Commission presented a certificate of excellence to Naieem Kelly—a sophomore at Watkinson School and NRCA student—for his commitment to natural resource conservation and the sustainable use of the environment. Naieem partnered with Heather Dionne (City of Hartford Arborist), Herb Virgo (Keney Park Sustainability) and Tom Worthley (UConn Extension and NRE) to quantify the monetary value of urban trees and develop a plan to repurpose wood from diseased or dying trees. He put his plan into action by constructing a reclaimed wood bench from a dead ash tree in Hartford’s Bushnell Park.
Naieem’s bench is on display at Hartford City Hall through April, and then will be relocated to Bushnell Park with a plaque describing the importance of urban trees. Naieem plans to expand on his urban forestry project through his participation in UConn’s NRCA Conservation Training Partnerships program this upcoming summer.