Meet the Park Youth Reps

November 8, 2022

If you’ve stopped by the Prospect Park Audubon Center this year, you may have encountered the center’s six Park Youth Representatives (PYRs) in action, leading nature walks, promoting environmental education, sharing fascinating information about the center’s animals, park nature and history. Prospect Park Alliance’s Park Youth Representative program offers seasonal employment to high school students and introduces a budding generation of park advocates to careers in environmental and museum education. In addition to engaging park goers at the Audubon Center, Youth Representatives also typically work at the Lefferts Historic House, which has been temporarily closed for restoration until May 2023. This year marks the 20th year of the Park Youth Representative Program in Brooklyn’s Backyard.

“The Park Youth Representative Program engages an eager-to-learn, inspired team with diverse mindsets, interests and backgrounds.” says the Audubon Center’s Public Programs Manager, Camilla Wilson, who oversees the group of Youth Representatives. “With their support, the Alliance offers environmental education programming that is relatable and fulfilling to park visitors.”

Park Youth Representatives engaging community members at Pop-Up Audubon over the summer. Photo courtesy of Camilla Wilson, Prospect Park Alliance, Public Programs Manager.

This year’s cohort includes six students from local Brooklyn high schools, each with a unique perspective and set of experiences that they bring to the role. “My favorite experiences are the team building exercises. I have gotten to know my team better and made friends with them.” says Barbara, a first-time PYR. The group has also fostered extensive leadership skills throughout the season. Says first-time PYR Lyric, “A highlight of the program is leading Pop-Up Audubon and the independence I feel when setting up the materials. I’ve enjoyed being able to give visitors information they may not have known about the park.”

The program also offers youth the opportunity to delve into projects and gain first-hand experience in environmental education careers. “I have liked getting hands-on with designing exhibits,” says first-time PYR Gesmaily. “Getting closer to the animals has also been one of my favorite aspects. This hands-on experience isn’t something I’ve found at other jobs.” Another first-time PYR, Erica, says an important part of her time as a youth rep has been getting to know Prospect Park and seeing its ecology in a new light. “I always used to come to the park and I had no idea about the different plants. I’ve learned so much about the park by being a Park Youth Representative.”

Park Youth Representatives teaching youth about the Audubon Center’s Albino Rat Snake as part of the center’s weekly ‘Nature Exploration’ and ‘Animal Encounters’ activities at the Audubon Center. Photo courtesy of Camilla Wilson, Prospect Park Alliance, Public Programs Manager.

The Audubon Center’s 2022 weekend programming ends on November 27, so make sure to stop by soon to see the Park Youth Representatives in action. The Audubon Center will be open during Public School Holidays through February, with the exception of November 24 + 25 and December 25 + 26.

c. Martin Seck

Celebrate Earth Day in Prospect Park

April 13, 2022

Join the celebration! This Earth Day season, join Prospect Park Alliance for nature exploration activities, open-air learning, volunteer activities, virtual learning resources, and stewardship to give back to our park and our planet. 

  • Volunteer
    • Prospect Park Alliance’s spring volunteer season is underway and there are many opportunities to lend a hand in Brooklyn’s Backyard. Work on essential park projects with Re:New Volunteer Corps on Tuesdays, help pick up litter with Green + Go Kits, and more! Register to be a Prospect Park Volunteer and see all of our upcoming opportunities at prospectpark.org/volunteer.
  • Nature Activities + In-Park Events
    • Join Prospect Park Alliance on Saturday April 23 for nature activities, education opportunities and more! Head to B’Earthday Bash to celebrate Earth Day, the Prospect Park Audubon Center’s 20th Anniversary, and the birthday of two legends: naturalist John James Audubon, and landscape architect and Prospect Park’s creator, Frederick Law Olmsted. Participate in  interactive activities for all ages, nature walks and a special exhibit on the 200th Anniversary of Olmsted’s birth. Learn about the environment in a special one-day session of University Open Air, with sustainability-focused free courses and workshops under the trees in Prospect Park.

Spring Break at the Prospect Park Audubon Center

March 17, 2022

Enjoy your Spring Break with Prospect Park Alliance from April 15 – April 22. Visit Prospect Park for family-friendly activities at Prospect Park Audubon Center.

Nature Exploration
Thursdays + Fridays 12–4 pm
Prospect Park Audubon Center, Free

Join Prospect Park Alliance for nature education programs at the Prospect Park Audubon Center, the first urban Audubon Center in the nation.

  • Discovery Pack, 12–3 pm: Come explore nature on your own with our Discovery Packs, a backpack filled with nature activities and exploration tools, perfect for families and kids to interact with the park in a whole new way!
  • Animal Encounter, 2–3 pm: Join Alliance Naturalists in learning more about the animals in the Audubon Center’s collection. This program starts promptly at 2 pm.
  • Family Bird Walk, 3–4 pm: Prospect Park is a stopping point for hundreds of bird species each year! Join us as we search for these amazing creatures and other nature around the park. Binoculars and bird guides are provided. This program departs from the Audubon Center promptly at 3 pm.

Nature Exploration
Saturdays + Sundays, 10 am–1 pm
Prospect Park Audubon Center, Free

Join the Prospect Park Alliance for nature education programs at the Prospect Park Audubon Center, the first urban Audubon Center in the nation.

  • Discovery Pack, 10 am–12 pm: Come explore nature on your own with our Discovery Packs, a backpack filled with nature activities and exploration tools, perfect for families and kids to interact with the park in a whole new way!
  • Animal Encounter, 11 am–12 pm: Join Alliance Naturalists in learning more about the animals in the Audubon Center’s collection. This program starts promptly at 11 am.
  • Nature’s Helpers, 12–1 pm: Help do your part to keep Prospect Park healthy by cleaning up the lakeshore. In this citizen science activity Audubon staff will guide groups to remove litter and record the findings. Fun for all ages and all materials are provided. This program departs from the Audubon Center promptly at 12 pm.
c. Virginia Friere

Play and Go in Prospect Park!

July 23, 2020

There is a new way to have fun in Prospect Park this summer! Join Prospect Park Alliance at locations around the park and surrounding neighborhoods as we bring our favorite activities from the Prospect Park Audubon Center and Lefferts Historic House on the road in easy-to-borrow play and go kits.

The  Pop-Up Lefferts Play and Go Kit  includes historic games and toys, including a DIY kits to make a nine-man morris game board and Mamantuhwin, a Native American (Lenape) dice game, which you can take home with you. There is also a wooden egg and spoon and potato sacks for races with your friends and family. A small library of children’s books can also be borrowed along with your kit on a first-come first-served basis. Learn more about dates and locations.

Pop-Up Audubon Play and Go Kits features a range of fun nature activities and games, as well as a birdwatching checklist with binoculars, and much more. Families and children can enjoy nature on their own as they explore and learn more about the park. Learn more about dates and locations.

Kits can be borrowed for up to 45 minutes, and will be sanitized between sessions. 

Pop-Up Audubon is made possible through the generous support of Con Edison.

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Pop-Up Lefferts is supported NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

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Stavros Niarchos Foundation Short

Paul Martinka

Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Prospect Park

January 3, 2020

As we enter a new decade, Prospect Park Alliance invites you to join us for special Martin Luther King Jr. Day activities in Prospect Park. This holiday is a great opportunity to take stock of the world we live in and reflect on what we can do to make it a better place for all. It’s also an ideal time to fit in those special winter activities you didn’t quite get to in December.

Freedom Songs and Stories with Tammy Hall
2 + 3 pm
Lefferts Historic House, $3 suggested donation, Registration Required

While Martin Luther King Jr. Day is specific to the United States, the struggle for freedom and self-determination is a universal experience across the world. This holiday, join Prospect Park Alliance at Lefferts Historic House for Freedom Songs and Stories with Tammy Hall. A masterful storyteller, Tammy Hall weaves together diverse tales from around the world to create a rich experience for all. Space at this event is limited, so please make sure to register for the event and bring your ticket confirmation on the day of the event.

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Nature Exploration
12–4 pm
Prospect Park Audubon Center, Free

We hear you: it’s hard to get outside in the dead of winter! If you need a reason to get out there, consider joining Prospect Park Alliance at the Audubon Center. Designed to encourage children’s curiosity while teaching them about the plants and animals native to Brooklyn, these activities are fun for kids and caretakers alike.

  • Discovery Pack, 12–3 pm: Want to create your own Prospect Park adventure? Stop by the Audubon Center to pick up a Discovery Pack, a ready-to-go kit filled with nature activities for families, and explore the diverse habitats of Brooklyn’s backyard in whichever way you please!
  • Animal Encounter, 2–3 pm: Watch and ask questions as Alliance Naturalists tell you about the animals that live inside the Audubon Center. Found near and far, learn the animals’ favorite foods and the habitats they call home. This program starts promptly at 3 pm. Animal Encounters is made possible with generous support from Macy’s, Inc.
  • Winter Wilderness Walk, 3-4 pm: Curious about animal tracks in the snow, how trees survive without leaves, or how bugs stay warm? Join an Alliance Naturalist for a tour of Prospect Park to learn how plants and animals survive the winter. This program leaves from the Audubon Center promptly at 3 pm.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Tennis Program
Monday, January 20, 1–4 pm 
Prospect Park Tennis Center, $80, Registration Required

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a longtime tennis player or just learning the basics of the game. Geared toward both adults and juniors, the Martin Luther King Day tennis clinic features fast-paced drill stations that focus on specific skills, including serve & volley, ground strokes, approach shots and offense/defense strategies. Advance registration required.

Ice Skating at Lakeside
Monday, January 20, 9 am–5 pm
LeFrak Center at Lakeside, Admission: $11 on holidays, Skate rental: $8

An extra day to skate at LeFrak Center at Lakeside? Yes, please! Make sure to stop by on MLK Jr. Day for gliding, swirling and dancing on the ice to great tunes. When it comes time to refuel and warm up, grab a seat at Bluestone Café for lunch, snacks, and warm drinks. And for those that would like to brush up on their skating skills, make sure to check out Lakeside’s Skate School with instructors and Olympians (yes, Olympians!) Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov. See you on the ice!

c. Andrew Gardner

2020 Winter Checklist

December 17, 2019

As we approach 2020, Prospect Park Alliance encourages you to look ahead to the fun that the new year has in store! From fireworks to sledding, winter walks and curling, we’ve put together 7 perfectly-park activities for you to check off your list in the new year. Take a look and we’ll see you in the park. 

Kick of the New Year with Fireworks!
Join Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams and Prospect Park Alliance for Brooklyn’s most spectacular New Year’s Eve Fireworks Celebration at Prospect Park’s iconic Grand Army Plaza. This free event includes live entertainment followed by fireworks at the stroke of midnight. This family-friendly fireworks display, now in its 40th year, attracts tens of thousands of revelers to Prospect Park, making it one of the city’s most popular celebrations. This event is free and open to the public, and will take place rain or shine. RSVP to let us know that you are coming!
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Make the Most of Your Holiday Tree
Join Prospect Park Alliance on January 4 + 11 for Mulchfest! Bring your holiday tree to Prospect Park, where it will go through a chipper and transform into environment-friendly mulch at both 3rd Street and Park Circle Entrances. Plus, you can take some home for your own yard or garden. Learn more about this beloved tradition—including how to volunteer. 
 

Get Out on the Ice
Enjoy a beloved winter tradition in Prospect Park—head down to the rinks at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside for hours of fun. There’s room for all ages and abilities, and make sure to warm up and refuel with hot chocolate at the Bluestone Café. Plus, the rinks aren’t just for ice skating—sign up for a curling lesson, hockey league, and even plan a birthday party at this popular recreational destination. Lakeside is open everyday in-season, including New Years day!
 

Try a Winter Walk or Run
Looking forward to enjoying Prospect Park’s natural spaces during this beautiful time of year? We can help with that! We’ve put together a suggested Winter Walk in Prospect Park to help you explore Lookout Hill. If running is your preferred speed, don’t miss our Cold Weather Running Tips that will help you make the most of a workout at this time of year. 
 

Get Ready to Sled!
Both through nature and by design, Prospect Park’s landscape is dotted with rolling hills, which makes it prime territory for winter sledding. When conditions are right, make sure to stop by the top sledding destinations in Brooklyn’s Backyard. Get there early, you’ll be competing with all of Brooklyn for a spot on the slopes!
 

Game, Set, Match
Planning on making a New Year’s resolution to get in shape? The Prospect Park Tennis Center is the perfect place to meet your goals while enjoying this fun activity. Play under the bubble on the facility’s indoor courts all winter long and improve your tennis—whether you’re a beginner or just hoping to take your game to the next level. 

Martin Seck

Winter Recess Festivities at Prospect Park

November 19, 2019

Prospect Park Alliance interrupts your regular device-filled schedule for some hands-on holiday activities at Prospect Park! Getting outside during short winter days is a great mood booster and a welcome break from the winter grind. And what better time to shake it up than the holiday season? During Winter Recess, December 26-30, Prospect Park has something for everyone, whether you’re hoping to spend quality time with your kids, commune with nature, or spend a day at the tennis courts. Whatever it is, grab a loved one, bundle up and head over to Prospect Park to make lasting memories during the most wonderful time of the year.

Gilded Frame Making
December 26–29, 1–3 pm
Lefferts Historic House, $3 suggested donation

Looking to get crafty this winter recess? Join Prospect Park Alliance at Lefferts Historic House for “gilded frame” making! Gilding refers to the practice of applying a thin layer of gold leaf over a given object. In days past, wealthy citizens often had a collection of gilded items, from candle holders and mirrors to frames for works of art. The gilded frames made at Lefferts Historic House are perfect for holding holiday photos and pictures of other special memories.

Nature Exploration
December 26–29, 12–4 pm
Prospect Park Audubon Center, Free

When’s the last time you watched a snake eat dinner? Have you ever held a hissing cockroach? Or spotted an Indian walking stick hiding among leaves and branches? Join Prospect Park Alliance at Prospect Park Audubon Center for Winter Recess, where you can do all that and more during Nature Exploration.

  • Discovery Pack, 12–3 pm: The Prospect Park Alliance invites you to get inspired by nature with our Discovery Packs, ready-to-go kits filled with nature activities for families.
  • Bird Nerd Game Hour, 1–2 pm: Learn about birds and nature in this fun, mildly competitive hour of trivia, bingo, card games, and more! Prizes will be available for all participants. 
  • Animal Encounter, 2–3 pm: Join Alliance Naturalists in learning more about the animals in the Audubon Center’s collection. This program starts promptly at 2 pm.
  • Winter Wilderness Walk, 3–4 pm: Curious about animal tracks in the snow, how trees survive without leaves, or how bugs stay warm? Join an Alliance Naturalist for a tour of how plants and animals live in the winter months. This program leaves from the Audubon Center promptly at 3 pm.

Tennis Holiday Adult & Junior Programming
December 26, 27 + 30, 1–4 pm
Prospect Park Tennis Center, $80/day, Registration Required

If you’ve been looking forward to a few days off so you can improve your tennis game, we have just the thing for you! On December 26, 27 and 30, Prospect Park Tennis Center will offer intensive, 3-hour group classes for adults and children of all levels of experience. Our accomplished staff of tennis professionals will give players personal attention while they acquire game fundamentals and increase their skill level. Don’t worry about snow, rain or sleet, because all Tennis Holiday Programming will take place inside the Tennis Center’s seasonal bubble.

c. Steve Nanz

Where Do The Animals Go In Winter?

November 13, 2019

Like Holden Caulfield before us, we’re asking, “where do the ducks go in the winter?” In fact, we want to know how all of Prospect Park’s year-round animal residents survive the season when temperatures dip below freezing. Read on below, and make sure to join Prospect Park Alliance at the Audubon Center to learn more about the park’s animal inhabitants.

Chipmunks
Prospect Park is home to one of the only populations of chipmunks in Brooklyn. As days get shorter and temperatures begin to fall, chipmunks shore up their underground burrows, cache  enough food to get them through winter, and hibernate. Their body temperature drops as low as 40 degrees, and their heart rate slows as low as 4 beats a minute! Chipmunks don’t spend the whole winter asleep. Every few days they awaken, eat some of their stored food, go to the bathroom and curl back up to wait for spring.

Turtles
Visitors to Prospect Park’s Lake are used to seeing turtles—often red-eared sliders—basking on sunny rocks and logs in summertime. When winter comes these creatures do not hibernate,  but “brumate” at the bottom of the Lake: remaining active while adjusting their bodies to the freezing conditions. As the temperature drops their blood thins, and they require less energy to move blood around their body. Consequently, they only need to eat, drink and breathe enough to barely keep the body going. It is not an uncommon sight to see a red-eared slider ambling around a pond floor under inches of ice!

Birds
Birds can be seen enjoying Prospect Park’s 585 acres year round, but not all birds enjoy the winter weather. Many species of birds make themselves scarce when the colder weather arrives, heading for southern latitudes. However, plenty of birds  have adapted to make the most of the cooler temperatures. During these months, they spend their days searching for food and staying warm. Their uninsulated feet are largely freeze-resistant, and by fluffing out their feathers—often appearing to double in size—the birds stay warm. Keeping their body temperature consistent requires lots of fuel, and they  are usually on the hunt for their next meal.

Many ducks stay in the park all winter long, enjoying the Lake’s freezing waters. These ducks are extremely hardy, due to a thick layer of fat and down under their waterproof feathers.

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A Northern Shoveler on Prospect Park Lake, c. Joseph O. Holmes

Fish
Prospect Park’s Lake is filled with fish, and as cold-blooded creatures, their metabolism dips when temperatures take a dive. In this resting state, fishes’ hearts slow down, their needs for food and oxygen decrease, and they move about very little. As ice forms on top of a lake, warm water sinks, and fish gather in groups near the bottom to stay warm. Some species burrow into the mud and go dormant, while other fish school together in “wintering holes” in deep pockets of the Lake.

Squirrels
Used to seeing squirrels in the park year round? That’s because squirrels are “homeotherms,” their body temperature does not fluctuate so they do not hibernate. Before winter arrives, squirrels can be seen hiding stashes of food in shallow holes and covering it up. When food becomes scarce, they will return to these locations and dig up  a meal. To minimize exposure, squirrels spend less time outside their dens during the colder months, and it’s common for several squirrels to share a den, allowing them to take shelter and keep each other warm.

Frogs
Frogs live in a variety of environments in the park, and likewise have a variety of ways of coping with the cold temperatures. Some aquatic frogs spend the winter at the bottom of the Lake, with a slowed-down pace and metabolism like  fish and turtles. Others burrow into the ground and hibernate the winter away. And some frogs, like spring peepers—loud tree frogs—can freeze solid! They stop breathing and their hearts stop beating, but high concentrations of glucose in their blood acts as a natural antifreeze, allowing their bodies to stay safe until they thaw in warmer weather.

Learn much more about park nature and meet turtles, fish and other park critters with Prospect Park Alliance at the Audubon Center.

c. Martin Seck

Fall Things to Do in Prospect Park

October 17, 2018

Prospect Park’s most colorful season has arrived, and  Prospect Park Alliance has plenty of ideas of how visitors of all ages can enjoy this time of year in Brooklyn’s Backyard. Here is our checklist for autumnal fun in Prospect Park, get out and experience it all!

  1. Take a fall foliage walk! Check out some of our favorite routes through the park to see  the stunning colors of autumn, from the Peninsula to Lookout Hill, the Nethermead, the Lullwater and beyond.
  2. Bid adieu to the birds. Fall is migration season in Prospect Park, with hundreds of species of birds stopping through these 585 acres on their way to their winter homes. Read our tips for birdwatching in Prospect Park, and check out upcoming bird walks you can join!
  3. Strap on your skates because starting October 26, the LeFrak Center at Lakeside is open for ice skating, hockey, broomball and curling. Enjoy these wintertime activities surrounded by the picturesque autumn colors, and before the arctic weather sets in!
  4. Learn more about nature at the Prospect Park Audubon Center. Prospect Park Alliance presented free nature activities Thursday through Sunday in October, and Saturday and Sunday in November and December. Take a birdwatching walk, introduce your  child to the creatures that creep, crawl and fly in the park. Plus, pick up ready-to-go Discovery Packs filled with nature activities for families!
  5. Go for a run. Ready to break a sweat? Fall is the perfect time to go for a run in Prospect Park and admire the colorful foliage from the park’s 3.36-mile loop, not to mention the paths that run through the natural areas of the park. Prefer an indoor activity? The indoor tennis season kicks off October 22 at the Prospect Park Tennis Center. Sign up for a seasonal court or lessons today.
Upsilon Ventures

Summer Fun Checklist: Kids Edition

May 14, 2018

Warm weather has arrived, and with so many fun activities for kids and families to enjoy in Prospect Park, you can spend all summer enjoying Brooklyn’s Backyard. Here is our checklist for must-do activities this summer:

  1. Visit the LeFrak Center at Lakeside: You’ll need to plan more than one visit to enjoy all the fun activities that Lakeside has to offer. Try roller skating, biking and boating for all ages, or it it’s too hot, run around in the jets on the Splash Pad, the park’s largest water play area, opening Memorial Day weekend.  
  2. Explore Nature with Pop-Up Audubon: From May through September, enjoy nature programs while exploring the Park with the Alliance’s Pop-Up Audubon program, made possible through the generous support of ConEdison and the Brooke Astor Fund for New York City, which takes place in different natural areas throughout the Park. Featured topics this summer include Radical Raptors, Climate Clues, Incredible Invertebrates and the Macy’s Fishing Clinic.
  3. Attend a Concert: The BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival is back in Prospect Park. In 2018, the festival celebrates its 40th season with 31 performances, running from June 5–August 11, including a free family concert featuring Los Lobos on June 10.
  4. Visit All the Playgrounds: Believe it or not, Prospect Park is home to seven playgrounds! Located throughout the Park, they offer children engaging opportunities for safe and imaginative play. Don’t miss the Zucker Natural Exploration Area, named the Best of New York by New York Magazine.
  5. Ride the Carousel: Located in the Park’s Children’s Corner, the Carousel is one of the Park’s most popular attractions for visitors of all ages. Its 53 magnificent horses ride alongside a lion, a giraffe, a deer and two dragon-pulled chariots. And you can book a birthday party at the Carousel to boot!
  6. See a Summer Movie: Pack a picnic and head to Prospect Park, because summer movies are returning to Prospect Park’s Long Meadow for four Wednesdays in July and August! A Summer Movie Under the Stars series, presented by Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams and Prospect Park Alliance in partnership with Brooklyn’s Nitehawk Cinema, brings free family-friendly movies to Brooklyn’s Backyard. Enjoy screenings of Alice and Wonderland, Space Jam and more.
  7. Travel Back in Time: See how Brooklynites lived way back when! Built by a Dutch family in the 18th-century, the Lefferts Historic House features a working garden, historic artifacts, period rooms and exhibits. Kids can play with traditional tools, toys and games and engage in historic activities.
  8. Bite into a Breakfast Taco: Everybody loves a taco, and you can pick up an authentic, Austin-style breakfast taco seven days a week at King David Tacos, located at Grand Army Plaza.