Last Updated: 6.11.19

Next deadline to apply is Friday, August 9, 2019, at 5:00pm.

GREEN CONNECTIONSenews_signup_button


From Forest to Faucet …

… through Friendship

The Green Connections Program supports year-long partnerships between NYC Watershed & NYC classrooms.

Over 9.5 million New Yorkers enjoy the world’s cleanest drinking water thanks to upstate Watershed forests and people. Green Connections connects classrooms from forest to faucet for a year of discovery, connection & stewardship.
View the Green Connections flier.

Green Connections students will . . .

  • become pen-pal buddies;
  • go on shared field trips to each other’s local environment;
  • learn about trees, water & the NYC Watershed through a hands-on curriculum; and
  • participate in local stewardship projects, which they share with each other.

Green Connections teachers will . . .

  • communicate regularly with their partner teacher;
  • get planning & teaching support from the Program Coordinator; and
  • receive $5,000 per partnership for field trips.

Who Can Apply?

  • 4-8th grade teachers who have attended the Watershed Forestry Institute for Teachers and are working in a municipality wholly or partially within the NYC Watershed (East or West of Hudson) or the 5 boroughs of NYC.
  • Confirm your eligibility by contacting Tyler Van Fleet, Watershed Contact Tyler Van Fleet, Watershed Educator, at (914) 962-6355 ext. 21 or



We’re so excited that you’re interested in Green Connections and we’re here to help! Please read below and contact Tyler Van Fleet, Watershed Educator, at (914) 962-6355 ext. 21 or with your questions.

The Green Connections program fosters mutual understanding and friendship between students from New York City and the upstate NYC watershed, while inspiring and enabling them to become excellent life-long stewards of forests and water quality.

Students from upstate NYC watershed and downstate NYC classrooms become pen-pal buddies for a school year. Buddies exchange letters, learn from a common watershed curriculum, do a local stewardship activity, and share hands-on watershed experiences on two joint field trips—one to NYC, and one to the upstate NYC watershed.

Field trip experiences are designed to bring students’ watershed learning to life. They offer an opportunity to meaningfully connect students with NYC’s urban environment; the forested watershed environment that supplies NYC’s drinking water; and each other. On these trips, students may visit each other’s schools, get a first-hand view of a drinking water reservoir, learn about water quality from a boat, study a nearby stream, tour a maple farm, volunteer to help protect forests and water quality, and more.


  1. Connects upstate and downstate students to one another
  2. Connects NYC students to the forested source of their drinking water
  3. Connects watershed students to the people who depend on them and their forests for clean water
  4. Connects students to their local environments and ways to care for forests and water quality




Any 4th-8th grade classroom teacher working in a municipality wholly or partially within the East or West of Hudson Watersheds or the 5 boroughs of New York City who has attended the Watershed Forestry Institute for Teachers is eligible to apply. Teacher Partners submit separate applications.Total combined grant awards for a partnership (2 classrooms of 20-40 students each) is approximately $5,000. One round of Green Connections grant funding is awarded each year with application deadlines in early August

How It Works


Green Connections Partner Classrooms—including both students and teachers—maintain regular contact with each other and with the Program Coordinator throughout the year. Teacher Partners coordinate to pair-up student buddies, schedule buddy communications and trip dates, and confirm basic trip logistics (preferred activities and locations, transportation options, available chaperones, etc.). At the required Green Connections Annual Kick-off meeting, all participating teachers meet with one another and the Program Coordinator to plan the year’s activities and address any questions.

Participating teachers may apply in conjunction with the partner school of their choice.  If you are an interested applicant in need of a partner school, please contact Tyler Van Fleet at or 914-962-6355 x21.

Learning Outcomes

Participating students gain rich experiences in another culture and natural environment and learn:

  • essential information about watersheds, and specifically, the NYC watershed;
  • the components of the NYC water supply system and how these components interact to provide clean, drinkable water;
  • ways that forests impact water quality;
  • ways that people impact forests;
  • actions that people can take to protect forests and water quality.


Teacher Partners facilitate a year-long student buddy friendship. Buddies exchange at least three communications with each other, beginning with hand-written letters. Students remain with their buddies on field trips, sharing these experiences and showing their local environment to each other.

Watershed Curricula

Throughout the school year, each teacher will complete a selection of eight engaging lessons (provided and self-curated) designed to teach students about the NYC watershed and water supply system, including how people and forests impact water quality.

Field Trips

Partner Classrooms go on one field trip in the fall and one in the spring. New Teacher Partners collaborate with the Program Coordinator to identify trip options, create schedules, and reserve buses and programming. With WAC approval, repeat Teacher Partners may coordinate trip logistics and plan schedules independently.

Stewardship Activity

Sometime during the school year, each classroom will do a stewardship activity related to forests and water quality. The purpose of this experience is to help students connect with and care for their local environment. The Green Connections Program Coordinator will assist with planning these activities, which may include tree planting, stream or park clean-ups, etc.

Role of the Program Coordinator

The Green Connections Program Coordinator is responsible for facilitating successful classroom partnerships and field trips.  The Program Coordinator supports Teacher Partners through all aspects of the program, from creating field trip schedules to conducting 1-2 classroom visits to deliver lessons from the curriculum. New Teacher Partners receive extra support.


Together, partnerships receive approximately $5,000 worth of funding, which must be matched dollar-for-dollar with in-kind goods and services (e.g. teacher/staff/volunteer hours, supplies, etc.) or cash (from any source). 

The Program Coordinator reserves and pays for the school or charter buses, the cost of which has been approximately $3,000 for both trips in recent years. Partnerships also receive up to $2,000 for non-charter bus field trip expenses (e.g. program fees, meals, safety-related items or supplemental transportation), paid as a reimbursement at the conclusion of the program. 

Each Title 1 school may apply for an additional $100 of funding to help pay for meals and/or safety-related items for their trips.  This additional funding must also be matched dollar-for dollar with in-kind goods and services or cash, but is paid prior to the first field trip. 


To receive funding, recipients of the Green Connections grant will be required to:

  1. demonstrate a 1-to-1 funding match;
  2. record and provide requested documentation for program activities in a timely manner;
  3. complete an online pre- and post-program Teacher Partner survey;
  4. ensure students complete pre- and post-program student learning assessment activities in the classroom;
  5. communicate with the Program Coordinator and Teacher Partner at least monthly;
  6. schedule 1-2 classroom visits with the Green Connections Program Coordinator;
  7. engage students in 8 lessons from the Green Connections curriculum;
  8. complete at least 3 rounds of correspondence between student buddies; and
  9. conduct 2 joint Field Trips (one to an upstate watershed location and one to NYC).

At the discretion of WAC, up to $2,000 of funding reimbursement may be forfeit by participants who do not complete these minimum requirements. Teachers failing to meet these requirements will also be unlikely to receive funding in the future.

If at any time a Teacher Partner thinks s/he may have difficulty meeting program requirements, s/he should contact the Program Coordinator to discuss options and opportunities as soon as possible!

Click to download the current Green Connections application.