Volunteers Help Us Bloom


Our two-year old Team Volunteering program and brand new Corporate Membership Program, spearheaded by the Friends of Governors Island, really took off this year! Vital to many of Governors Island’s horticultural and environmental initiatives, these programs engage volunteers in the hard work of keeping pace with our evolving landscapes.

This year, 16 corporate and 14 non-profit and community groups brought a total of 1,663 volunteers contributing more than 7,000 hours of stewardship for our landscapes. Our entire volunteer program grew seven-fold over the last two years to include 1,732 volunteers collectively dedicating over 8,000 hours of work to make the Island cleaner, greener, and more beautiful and welcoming than ever.

Scroll down for a photo album of some of this year’s volunteer highlights!

We have ambitious long-term goals for the Island’s extraordinary environment. In 2016, we opened the newest section of our award-winning park — 10 acres of rolling hills and forest that will reach peak maturity in 2100. Designed to anticipate climate change and rising seas, the new park serves as a model for sustainable and resilient building along New York City’s 600 miles of vulnerable coastline. We work hard to establish and share best-in-class urban ecological practices to match the park’s design. This endeavor would not be possible without the collective stewardship of our volunteers.

This year, volunteers tended to two park sections, which include six distinct garden and horticultural areas, and established a new 4,000 square foot pollinator garden to attract more butterflies and bees. They also:

  • cultivated soil by hand
  • removed invasive plant species in six acres of lawns and planting beds
  • tended an acre of ornamental shrubs
  • cut back and seeded native flowers and grasses
  • established 3,000 feet of gardener trails in our woodlands and meadows
  • installed 13,000 feet of gardening and safety fencing
  • installed 75 bird houses decorated by kids during our Family Fun Day
  • started construction of the “Green Zone” – our back-of-house outdoor “horticultural kitchen” complex and volunteer field base.

A priority for next year, the “Green Zone” will include plant nurseries and tree “boot camps,” and soil amendment and compost tea testing areas. This project is essential to achieving our goal of being a “Zero Waste Island,” where all organic waste generated on the Island is returned to nourish our landscapes.

A special thank you to our anchor corporate members who helped us launch team volunteering on the Island: American Express, Bloomberg L.P., and Blackstone. Each of these partners sent multiple teams of employees to work on our landscapes in 2016, and also helped fund the materials, supplies and staffing we needed to make the program successful.

We are very grateful to additional corporate partners Warby Parker, Accenture, Above Average Productions, and Sharon Davis Design, as well as our non-profit teams: the Student Conservation Association, FINRA, Federal Reserve, Council on Accreditation, Break A Difference, Brooklyn Urban Garden School, the Office of the Mayor, and kindergartners from P.S. 33 for giving back so generously to the Governors Island community.

Thank you Goldman Sachs and Bloomberg L.P. for teaching our stewards-in-training from the Harbor Internship Program how to make most of their professional development.

Student Conservation Association – thank you for your leadership and for being our true partner, lending us your highly skilled and very dedicated crews.

Thank you to all of our corporate and non-profit partners for lending your hands, your enthusiasm, your grit and your care! We are looking forward to seeing you in the spring!

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Masha Berek at masha@friendsgi.org.