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Turning Fear Into Fascination: Seeds To Trees Putting Students Up Close Into Nature

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Step foot into a city park and it's possible you'll walk out with a new understanding and appreciation for nature.

One program counts on it: Seeds To Trees transports New York City school kids into the urban wilderness for lessons, reports CBS2's Vanessa Murdock.

Students from P.S. 069 Journey Prep School in the Bronx geared up for a unique experience.

Dressed the less-than-fashionable waders, the students waded Van Courtland Lake, armed with nets to search for indicator species.

"We're trying to find the damsel fly," said 9-year-old Alexander Rodriguez. After finding several of the bug, "it tells us this lake is not polluted."

"He's in here, he's crawling away because he doesn't like the camera," he said.

These students are part of the City Parks Foundation's Seeds to Trees program.

"One of the greatest impacts of the Seeds to Trees program is creating this memorable experience in nature for students," said Luis Gonzalez of the foundation.

"A lot of these kids they live in the communities that are concrete jungles or don't have access to a park like Van Cortlandt Park," he said. "We want them to create these relationships with green spaces."

Organizers hope students become stewards for our urban parklands, but for some, that might take a bit.

"At first I was scared of going into the lake," said 9-year-old Jaylene Vega. "I don't really like fish."

Soon fear turns to fascination, even for Jaylene.

"I think it was pretty cool because I never seen one of these creatures before," said student Anderson Benjamin.

The City Parks Foundation is an independent non-profit that partners with the City and Parks Department.

There is a fee for the seeds to trees program, but it is often subsidized.

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