Inside The New York Botanical Garden

Tai Montanarella

Fourth-Graders Create Art Inspired by the Holiday Train Show

Posted in Children's Education on February 6 2018, by Tai Montanarella

Tai Montanarella, Marian S. Heiskell, Associate Director, School and Out-of-School Programs


Kids art

One of the rewards for leading plant science workshops at the GreenSchool in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory for school groups is often the lovely drawings and letters of thanks we receive from students afterward. However, when we received the garden-inspired artwork of Mrs. Foley’s fourth graders from P.S. 107 in Flushing after they visited the Holiday Train Show in December, I knew from their drawings and writing that these were not just obligatory thank you notes, but recollections of heartfelt experiences.

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Project WASTE: Middle School Students Clean Up the Bronx River

Posted in Around the Garden on April 19 2017, by Tai Montanarella

Tai Montanarella is the Marian S. Heiskell Associate Director of School and Out-of-School Programs at The New York Botanical Garden.


Students taking part in Project WasteAlongside a naturalistic waterfall in the Thain Family Forest tourists were snapping family photographs, capturing scenes of the rushing Bronx River, its rocky gorge, and the leafing and flowering spring trees behind them. Yet only 20 feet away lay a tarp with hundreds of pieces of litter, from styrofoam bearing popular fast food logos to glass beer bottles. It was this scene which captivated the students of St. Brendan School in the Bronx.

“In order to find out how garbage gets into the Bronx River, we have to think about the ways water gets into the river,” said forest gardener Erica Deluca. Students had some ideas to share. Thanks to the generosity of Con Edisom STEM Days Out, they have been stewards of the Bronx River for the past two years, observing seasonal changes and thinking about how water quality changes over time by collecting and analyzing macroinvertebrate leaf pack data, and by keeping abreast of current events about human activities and the river.

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From Fossilized Plants to Modern Conservation, Bronx Students Discover the Herbarium

Posted in Learning Experiences on March 16 2017, by Tai Montanarella

Bronx students visit the Garden

What in the World is a Herbarium? is not just the name of the exhibition recently opened in the Ross Gallery that explores the role herbaria play in plant research, but was also the question on the minds of M.S. 45 Bronx middle school students. Recently, they had the unique opportunity to take an inside look at it with the Garden’s Director of Conservation Outreach, Daniel Atha.

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Ethnobotany Explorers Bring STEM to GreenSchool

Posted in Children's Education, Learning Experiences on August 8 2014, by Tai Montanarella

Tai Montanarella is the Manager of School and Family Programs for The New York Botanical Garden.


Ethnobotany ExplorersWhat is an ethnobotanist, anyway? This was the question on the minds of six New York City public school students who were accepted to participate in Ethnobotany Explorers, a new summer academic enrichment program offered to middle through high school students.

Funded in partnership with New York City Department of Education STEM Matters, these lucky teens got to spend four weeks in July learning the answer while building on a tradition of enthnobotanical scientific study at The New York Botanical Garden that goes back over a century.

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GreenSchool in the Rain Forest: A Third Grade Excursion

Posted in Learning Experiences on May 16 2012, by Tai Montanarella

Tai Montanarella is the Manager of School and Family Programs at The New York Botanical Garden.


How do plants in the rain forest survive? This was the question on the minds of Prospect Hill Elementary School students as they explored the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. It was here at the NYBG that they became first-hand field scientists for a day, embarking on their own botanical expedition through the diverse tropical rooms of our glasshouse.

While they did not have to get on a plane to visit these rain forests, these third graders did have to travel through extreme biomes before they could reach them. This is a museum of plants, after all. Their journey began when they got off the bus, where they were not only greeted by GreenSchool educator Pilar Okeson, but by a fantastic Zelkova tree (Zelkova serrata). Hailing all the way from Japan, this deciduous tree does equally well in the temperate climate of New York City, and can reach 100 feet tall. It was only the first of many exotic plants the children would encounter.

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