HISTORY & PROGRAMS
Richmond County, a/k/a Staten Island, is the southernmost County of New York State. It is also, one of the five boroughs that make up New York City. When you mention New York City everyone thinks of an urban area. Not so on Staten Island. It is unique and what its name indicates, an Island, eight miles wide and fourteen miles long, positioned closer in mileage to New Jersey than New York. But most of all it is a natures paradise. It is called the County or Borough of Parks, containing over 14,000 acres of passive and active parkland. The passive parkland is home to many of natures’ creatures, its Bluebelt and Greenbelt contains many ponds, lakes, streams actuaries, and wetlands. Its forestry contains many endangered species of foliage, plant and tree, and animal life; its saltwater marshes is home to many waterfowl and crabs and its beaches, which surround the island make fishing, boating, and just sunbathing a call to nature.
In 2004, eight members of the Andrew E. Zimmer Fish & Game Conservation Association Inc (founded in 1926 a/k/a the “Zimmer Club” by native Staten Islanders) realized that many clubs, like theirs, cater to their adult members first and youth programs second. They determined that a 21st Century youth spends too much time watching TV, playing a video games or using their computers. Today’s youth became a loner displaying antisocial behavior, don’t know how to have fun or interact with others, experienced peer pressure, and lost touch with nature and the environment. They explored remedies to change this trend. They found the answer, form a new organization where the youth are the primary members. Adults who can impart knowledge and expertise become the secondary members.
How we determined our name: 1st we began with “Zimmer Club” since this is where our founders originated from and is our current venue; 2nd we added our target population “Youth”; 3rd what we were all about “Conservation”; 4th the diversity of our subject matter, “Program”; and 5th where we are located “Staten Island.”
On September 29, 2005 the “Zimmer Club Youth Conservation Program of Staten Island, Inc.” became a reality. It was established as a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit organization and registered with the New York State Attorney General’s Office. The eight founders were the original Board of Directors. As such, they went on to build the Organization. First, they solicited instructors using the philosophy of New York State’s original Conservation Officer for Richmond County, Andrew E. Zimmer. They returned to the original organization from whence they came and convinced its membership to become instructors and to use their facility as a venue. This venue allowed us to hold classes at their clubhouses and grounds located at 4411 Arthur Kill Road, Staten Island, N.Y. 10309 in the Charleston section of Staten Island. Telephone 718 948-9599. Once the instructors and the venue were secured, they solicited students, donations and NYS & NYC Grants. On February 1, 2021 we changed our original website name and e-mail address from www.aezyouth.com and firstname.lastname@example.org to our current website name, www.zcysi.org and e-mail address email@example.com. Stop by and check us out.
Over the years, the program availability increased from the original 9 to over 40. Most are FREE. However, there are some exceptions. Over 2,500 youths have benefited and many of our students had their interest awakened. Some have become instructors.
Our annual “Youth Conservation Course”: Classes are held every year for 10 to 14 weeks, January thru April, which focus on Wildlife Conservation and Parks. The course topics include Camping, Marksmanship, Compass & Map reading, First Aid, Hunting, Fishing, Bluebelt & Harbor Estuary Programs, Live Animal demonstrations, Etc., described more fully below. They culminate with an Awards Luncheon where Certificates & Trophies are given based on participation, knowledge of the subject matter and proficiency during the various competitions. We award six (6) scholarships to camp. Boys and girls ages 12-14 are eligible for a one-week stay at NYS DEC camp DeBruce. The scholarship is an all expenses paid, except however, parents are responsible for transportation to and from the camp.
A NYS DEC Police Officer, a NYS DEC Park Ranger and a member of the NYC Department of Parks give lectures and demonstrations. They discuss their jobs, the parks and its wildlife. A video is shown about conservation and pollution.
Staten Island Charter Boat Captains and Professional anglers assist in the instruction and will give explanations of which bait and fishing poles to use for catching various types of fish. All types of fishing equipment; rods, reels, bait and tackle are made available to us and is displayed for fresh water, salt water and fly-fishing.
We also hold outdoor classes on their grounds where camping instruction is given, the equipment you would need to survive in the outdoors the different types of tents available. How to choose a tent site and what type of fire to build? They also cover how to use a compass and read a map.
Other organizations such as the Colonial Gun Club, Richmond Boro Gun Club, and the Sportsman Club of Staten Island allow us use of their facilities and give the children instruction in firearms and Marksmanship. The Andrew E. Zimmer Club also offer their expertise in demonstrating the different types of bows and arrows that are available. They demonstrate their use and what types of safety measures should be used. There is also a marksmanship day where we take students to their outdoor range where the children are taught, with a one on one coach, how to properly handle a shotgun, fire a 22 rifle, and Archery using both Recurve and Compound Bow. Students compete for best score and trophies are awarded.
Members of the Staten Island Volunteer Ambulance corps assists us by instructing the children in a first aid course given by certified EMTs and Paramedics, teaching emergency first aid and general care for cuts and burns.
Trips are taken to various Staten Island Parks where Environmental Conservation can be seen up close. DEC officer’s and/or a Parks Ranger supplement our instructors and they discuss their jobs, the parks and its wildlife. Hiking and Videos are shown about conservation and pollution.
Trips are taken to local horse stables where we introduce the children to live animals. Live “Birds of Prey” are brought in by the “Theodore Roosevelt Bird Sanctuary” they include Hawks, Falcons, Eagles, and Owls. Farm & Domestic animals are displayed by the “Wildlife on Farms in the North East United States Exhibit.” The birds and farm & domestic animals are displayed one at a time while a handler talks about each one. In addition, we have Falconers’ giving live demonstrations the skills of hunting by these raptors.
Blue Belt Management, Greenbelt Planning and Harbor Estuary Programs a brought to life by visiting various locations on Staten Island. This is where pond life is examined with an emphasis on natural water run offs, wildlife, flora, and fauna and how they related to the environment and impact our daily lives. We emphasize that the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary ecosystem as a living environmental and social resource. We instruct youths in conservation and preservation techniques. Water purification is demonstrated, and students design an ideal estuary ecosystem. Flora & Fauna are sought out and identified during nature walks after classroom orientation.
Every spring & fall, a NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) certified “Sportsman Education Personnel and DEC Conservation Officers set up and teach “Hunter Safety” using both Rifle and Bow leading to NYS permits. NYS law requires attending such a course in order to qualify for a Hunting License in NYS. Contact Bigbuck956@aol.com for current information.
We also host seminars in fishing and boating both leading to NYS Boating Certification. We give refresher classes to inform Sportsman of modification of laws, equipment and techniques.
FREE Children’s Tournaments are held at various locations throughout the island where participants receive souvenirs and trophies. They are: Two (2) Huck Finn Fishing contests at different City Parks; one (1) William Tell Bow & Arrow contest; and one (1) Daniel Boon turkey shoot.
In summary, we educate the youth of today thru Camps & Training Sessions as follows:
Fishing - Salt & Fresh water classes, sponsoring contests and events throughout Staten Island.
Rods & Fly Tying – Learn how to make your own flies and lures and use the appropriate equipment.
Hunting – Classes for children & adults.
Horticulture – Care and maintenance of flowering plants, shrub, trees, and herbs.
Conservation – Discover the beauty and wildlife of Staten Island’s Wetlands, Greenbelt, and Bluebelt.
Animal Care – Farm and wild animals seen up close and personal with questions and answer sessions by a Wildlife Professional from BG Stables Ltd. thru their “Wildlife on Farms in the North East United States Exhibit.”
Birds of Prey – Hawks, Falcons, Owls, and Eagles! The Theodore Roosevelt Bird Sanctuary brings these marvelous creatures to us each year as part of our youth enrichment program.
Cold blooded animals are brought to life when we expose the youth to snakes, amphibians, and Arachnida.
Survival – Compass, Map reading, First Aid, Wilderness survival techniques.
Safety – Hunter Safety – Gun & bow
Boy & Girl Scouts – We sponsor children in need wanting to attend Scouts.
Conservation & Nature Study are educational & recreational activities not previously enjoyed by many Staten Island Youths. Our programs provide a comprehensive, recreational, and instructional forum. Our various programs increases the opportunity for Staten Island Youths to participate in a structured Nature Study & Conservation program thereby making them familiar with an alternate lifestyle which is a learning experience, enhances their knowledge, skills, and will help motivate them to pursue a lifestyle free of delinquency and drugs.