The Finger Lakes Institute Community Outreach and Public Service Program recently received a 2010 Special Projects Grant from the Ontario County Water Resources Council to coordinate the “Service through Science: Engaging the Public in Environmental Stewardship,” a program that pairs public lectures with stewardship activities within Ontario County.
“Service through Science” recruits community members of all ages, skills, and experiences to serve as stewards of Ontario County’s natural environment. Through a series of educational outreach and environmental stewardship activities, new stewards participate in hands-on, field-based service programs that contribute to the protection and improvement of the county’s natural resources. While the educational outreach component of this program frames a critical awareness about the scientific considerations to natural resource protection, it is the field-based service programs that build residents confidence in, and sensitivity for, environmental quality of Ontario County.
“I created this program to offer not only the knowledge but also the understanding and life experiences to be better stewards of the Finger Lakes,” says Sarah Meyer, community outreach coordinator at the Finger Lakes Institute. “I am trying to entice all types of learners, of all ages, to express their values through practice. I’d like to inspire our regional community members become active stewards of our surroundings.”
Meyer has coordinated multiple Service through Science lectures and stewardship projects throughout 2010, all of which are free and open to the public and provide transportation and refreshments to stewards. Presenters have included Jim Engel of White Oak Nursery speaking on preserving the biodiversity of the Finger Lakes and managing the Kashong Conservation Area, recently acquired by the Town of Geneva, in a way that promotes the growth of native trees and shrubs and balanced habitat for birds, insects, and other wildlife. A stewardship project to control invasive and planting native species at the Kashong Conservation Area is tentatively planned for the fall.
On April 24, students from Hobart and William Smith Colleges collected trash from the roadside of West Lake Rd. along Honeoye Lake as part of the Annual Honeoye Valley Cleanup Day. The following day, members of the HWS Greens House prepared the FLI’s Demonstration Rain Garden, a storm water best management practice, and yard by deadheading plants, turning over soil, spreading mulch, and removing dead branches from the forested back yard.
Other Service through Science Stewardship projects include the creation of an Erosion Control Garden on Sandy Bottom Beach in Honeoye, N.Y. , and a Seneca Lake Beach Cleanup, scheduled for Sept. 25.
The Finger Lakes Institute continues to seek partner organizations in Ontario County having a need for volunteers and the ability to host a stewardship service volunteer site, which may include a beach cleanup, water monitoring, invasive species hand-pulling event, tree planting, trail construction, community garden, etc. Please contact Meyer at email@example.com to propose an Ontario County stewardship service activity and potential educational program.
To stay informed of upcoming Service through Science Lectures and Stewardship Projects, join the FLI’s mailing list at http://fli.hws.edu/MailingList.asp .