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Photo by Liz Ligon

Spring Cutback Volunteer Spotlight: Gabriela Pereyra

By Brittney Seegers | March 28, 2018

Our annual Spring Cutback wouldn’t be possible without the hard work and dedication of our horticulture volunteers and gardeners, who help trim back more than 110,000 plants along our 1.5-mile-long park. Meet High Line volunteer Gabriela Pereyra, who is participating in Spring Cutback for the second year in a row.

How long have you been a volunteer at the High Line? In what capacity?
Last year was my first year. I moved to the United States in September of 2016, and started volunteering in March of 2017. I volunteer as a greeter, a gardener, and participate in Spring Cutback.

What first drew you to volunteer at the High Line?
Everything began five years ago when I started to date an amazing New Yorker. Our first date was on the High Line, and five years later I moved to New York because of them. I’m half Uruguayan, half Venezuelan. In Venezuela, I got my Bachelor’s degree in Planned Biology, and in Germany I got my Master’s degree in Agricultural Science and a PhD in Geoscience.

When I moved to the US, I had to decide whether to continue working in academia or go into the nonprofit world. While I was making that decision, I saw an opportunity to volunteer for the High Line, and I loved it and wanted to learn more about the work done with plants up here.

How would you describe the experience of participating in Spring Cutback to a friend?
I did two or three sessions of Cutback last year, and it was amazing because you met people from all walks of life. People of different ages, races, all our knees, working hard in harsh weather environments since it’s usually cold and wet, but we’re all super happy. For many of us, when the shift ends, we always wonder what else we can do.

What’s it like working with new volunteers?
Last year I was new, but the best part was working with people that have been here since day one. They’re super friendly and explain everything. As a transplant to New York, I learned a ton about New York through their eyes since they’ve lived through the city’s changes.

What’s it like seeing the park transform during Cutback?
It’s beautiful. It’s a new beginning, a fresh start. Everything is trimmed and ready to grow.

What does the High Line mean to you?
As a scientist, I know how difficult it is to grow plants in a space like the High Line, plus I have a personal connection with the space.

I’m truly impressed by the level of knowledge and small technical details that go into the High Line, from its initial design to the maintenance today.

Why do you think the High Line is important to the New York community?
The ecosystem service, from the environment, to social space, to the biosphere that the High Line gives to New York and New Yorkers is so important. You have the social component, where everyone is welcome in this space. Then, the park acts as a buffer for insects and pollinators that don’t have any space in the city. There’s also the conservation aspect of having this ratio between native plants and non-native plants. It’s amazing.

Help us spread the word about Spring Cutback by using the hashtag #SpringCutback to share your experience, and follow us on
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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TD Bank is the Presenting Green Sponsor of the High Line.

The High Line Volunteer Program is supported, in part, by

The Volunteer Program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Council.