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Yonkers Students Deepen Passion for the Environment at Untermyer Gardens

The Untermyer Gardens is a spectacular destination in Yonkers, New York, with breathtaking panoramic views of the Hudson River.

In 2019, Untermyer Gardens formed a partnership with Yonkers Partners in Education (YPIE) and started offering summer internships to Yonkers Public High School students to assist in beautifying the gardens. This summer, Yonkers students continued to enhance the beauty of these magnificent gardens and make a meaningful impact at one of the most visited destinations in Westchester.

“For me, this place gives me lots of opportunities,” said Catherine, a Yonkers high school student. “It’s my first working experience and it’s a very good one because I get to see beautiful sites all day while I’m working and it gives you a good sense of pride.”

“It’s a great learning experience because they can take this anywhere in life,” said Untermyer Gardener Liz Dreeben. “Whether they decide to do this for living, they can plant a garden, make a path, use a shovel. They’ve learned a lot and it’s fun.”

This summer, students continued to work on the vegetable garden they created last year. They cut back ryegrass, turned over the soil, and planted hundreds of herbs and sunflower seeds.

“The sunflower is the national flower of the county of Ukraine,” said Liz. “The students felt that would be an especially meaningful addition to these Gardens.”

Yonkers student interns planted perennials on the rhododendron walk, restored paths with wood chips, and made steps on the paths with hills using more than 30 oak rounds. They also sifted compost, planted at the entry gatehouse, and reinstalled the tiles of the grand Vista staircase that leads from the Walled Garden to the Hudson River.

“To be honest, when I would go to parks, I would just look at the wood chips and mulch and I didn’t realize that someone had to work to do this,” said Malak, YPIE high school student. “Now, that I’m doing this and I see how hard it is, I look at all of this from a different perspective.”

I’ve had a great time with the YPIE interns this year and last,” said Untermyer Gardener John Jacono. “They have shown me day in and day out that this new generation of young adults who ease my thoughts on our future as a society as a whole.”

This partnership has had an impact on beautifying the Gardens as well as providing experiences that will stay with YPIE students always.

“You’re able to see what people do for a living. And, you can see whether it’s right for you because you’ve experienced it,” continued Malak. “It’s cool to see how everyone here is so passionate and how they love what they are doing. It’s gardening, but it's so much more.”

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