Brooklyn’s nature lotteries: Apply to experience the great outdoors without leaving the borough

It’s truly an “only in New York” moment that in this green-deprived city, lotteries are used not only to determine who gets affordable housing, the Powerball jackpot, and a spot in competitive Kindergartens, but also who gets to experience tax-funded nature.

The Urban Park Rangers is a more than 30-year-old program where nature “ambassadors” in state trooper hats host a variety of events in city parks. These nature experiences run the gamut, from child-friendly activities aimed at families (although, when I was 17 I totally attended a Make Your Own Drawstring Bag event at the Lefferts Historic House which was very clearly intended for children five and under but, like, I learned so much about bags and I still use the one I made that day today) to “advanced” excursions, like birding on the off-limits White Island and a variety of other hiking, kayaking and environmentally friendly escapades.

Many of the more popular events held by the Rangers use a lottery to determine participants; others are run on a first come first served basis. We checked out the Rangers’ upcoming fall calendar and here are what we determined to be the best free nature experiences being offered in Brooklyn (and some bonus out-of-borough adventure):

Check out the Rangers’ full schedule of events here.

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