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ROOTS (Restoration of the Outdoors Organized by Teen Students) is a volunteer program for high school students. Each spring and fall, students participate in semester-long ecological restoration projects to restore and manage Central Park’s woodlands. Alongside Conservancy woodlands staff, students maintain rustic trails, remove invasive plants, and cultivate native shrubs, trees, and wildflowers. Students are also given the opportunity to participate in field trips to other NYC natural areas, utilizing the skills they’ve developed in Central Park in support of other parks. In the past, students have participated in restoration projects in Marine Park, Rockaway Park, Bronx Park, and Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge to name a few.

ROOTS was created by the Conservancy in 2003 as a way for high school students to learn about urban ecology and the value of urban natural areas through active participation in restoration practices.

This program fulfills community service requirements. Acceptance is through a competitive application process. Grades 9-12.

Program and Application Schedule

The application for each program is only available between the dates listed here.

March – May: Saturdays, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Application Available: December 16
Application Deadline: January 26

October – November: Saturdays, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Application Available: June 8
Application Deadline: August 31

Apply for ROOTS in the Application Portal >

Learn More

ROOTS students have been instrumental to the restoration of the Hallett Nature Sanctuary. Read more on our Blog >

See what ROOTS students are saying about their experiences in these submissions to our essay contest, From the Next Generation of Park Stewards. Students were asked to answer the question: How has your work in Central Park and the ROOTS program informed your perception of urban parks?

 "From Shakes to Shovels" by Aneesha Aggarwal

 "The Central Meaning of an Urban Park" by Niko Goutakolis

Youth Education and Service Programs are supported in part by The Barker Welfare Foundation; Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; Epstein Teicher Philanthropies; Abraham Perlman Foundation; The Pinkerton Foundation; and William E. Weiss Foundation, Inc./Daryl Brown Uber.