July 10, 11am-2pm: Free Kayaking!

Free kayaking returns to Gantry Plaza State Park!

Enjoy an amazing seal’s-eye-view of the Manhattan skyline and dynamic LIC neighborhood from with an embayment of Gantry Plaza State Park (the dock at 50th Avenue and Center Boulevard)! Our volunteers will register you, provide a life vest and paddle and brief pointers, and paddle nearby for added safety support.

There’s no need to pre-register to participate. Just be patient with lines, wear clothing you don’t mind getting wet, protect your electronics and wallet with a dry bag (or triple ziplock), bring a reusable water bottle and snacks that eliminate or minimize packaging, and protect yourself from the sun! Do not drink alcohol or consumer any recreational drugs before paddling. Please check with your healthcare provider regarding prescription drugs or other physical conditions that might affect your participation.

CLICK HERE to join the HarborLAB volunteer team providing this event.

We thank the New York-New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program (HEP) and Hudson River Foundation for helping to make this program and educational programs possible, along with our volunteers, longstanding sponsors, and new sponsors and donors: Investors Bank, C.A,C. Industries, Constance Rogers Roosevelt, and Jill Lafer. 

Get Your 2021 Training!

HarborLAB Staff Volunteers (regular volunteers who lead programs or act as safety escorts), please obtain or renew your Red Cross adult and pediatric certifications for AED, CPR, and First Aid. We can reimburse your costs. Later this summer we will offer Safety Around Water and Basic Water Rescue classes to staff volunteers.

Event Volunteers (those who occasionally pitch in to help out with programming and projects) are not required to have this training.

Staff Volunteers and Event Volunteers who directly interact with children are also encouraged to complete Darkness to Light training to recognize signs of child abuse and to prevent its occurrence.

Staff Volunteers are eligible for reimbursement for environmental education training. One great opportunity in the near future is a course in E-STEM (Environment-Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Education offered by the Civic Ecology Lab of Cornell University.

To learn more about training requirements and opportunities, please email volunteer@harborlab.org. Thanks!

June 13 Gardening and Paddling Memories.

HarborLAB volunteers, led by Niki Bali-Keyes, tended to our native shoreline restoration and canoed Newtown Creek on Sunday. The photos here are by Niki, Yan Cheng, and Luke O’Brien. Special thanks to Phillip Borbon and Mairo Notton for taking the time to help with set up and pack away! Phillip also regularly removes plastic trash that blows over our way.

Ira Gershenhorn manages our native plants. When we arrived in 2012 we set about transforming a crumbling bulkhead and bank with fresh earth made by composting cocoa husks and burlap donated by MAST Brothers chocolate and our own kitchen scraps. We protected our new waterfront with fa├žade bricks stranded by a canceled construction project, placed to stabilize the soil and attenuate waves and wakes. We then planted a considerable amount of native milkweed and goldenrod, serviceberry (shadbush), hackberry, and American persimmon (we need to add more of these!). We’re also growing cultivars like apricot, Asian pear, and apples.

The crew also canoed the creek, using the Hunters Point South public boat launch that HarborLAB’s founder first proposed in 2003 and which our organization regularly cleans. Each week from May through October for years HarborLAB volunteers (currently Sanjay Shirke) sample water at the launch for quality testing through a NYC Watertrail Association program. The boat launch is adjacent to a coming boathouse that the City, Gotham Organization, and RiseBoro announced would be the “HarborLAB boathouse” in 2017 (we have no dock due to sailboats crowding our shore and for almost a decade HarborLAB has lacked interior space, so lack security and our equipment is weather beaten). We responded recently to a Request for Proposals asking that those partners affirm their choice of HarborLAB as boathouse operator, with a Columbia University program for NYC public school students agreeing to be HarborLAB’s educational partner to fully activate the space for community good.

Sunday, June 13: Paddle and Garden!

Register here: https://forms.gle/ZzT7L1w8w42cSLAE8

Shareable link: https://fb.me/e/zOkFZMfD

A mellow paddle on June 13 followed by light gardening to help our native plants and a few cultivars thrive! 10AM: Gather at HarborLAB.
1030AM: Launch boats!
1230PM: Return to HarborLAB.
1244PM: High water on Newtown Creek.
1PM: Get lunch and refresh.
2PM: Do an hour of weeding and possibly watering to help our milkweed, serviceberry (shadbush), American persimmon, and hackberry (plus cultivars like apples, Asian pears, and apricots).


When HarborLAB arrived in 2012, what became our waterfront home on Newtown Creek was a collapsing bulkhead covered in stranded construction materials. Then Hurricane Sandy hit, degrading the shoreline more and spurring a wave of illegal dumping of water damaged materials onto our site. We filled dumpsters will junk, donated building supplies, and partnered with Mast Brothers to create fresh soil on site by composting cacao shells along with volunteers’ kitchen scraps. Now, thanks to new neighbor FOS Development, we’ll soon have a hose!