Education is a core part of the Land Alliance’s mission. It is integral to helping community members understand the benefits associated with the preservation of Long Island’s land and waters and the important role land conservation plays in ensuring a healthy quality of life.

With nearly 3 million residents in Nassau and Suffolk Counties completely dependent on groundwater for all their fresh water needs, water is one of our community’s most precious and most vulnerable resources. Many Long Islanders are unaware that the source of their drinking water is the aquifer under their feet or that nitrogen is the number one contaminant of our aquifer, harbors, bays, streams and rivers, the Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. The Long Island Water Education Program teaches students about Long Island’s water: from the sole source aquifer that provides our drinking water, to the streams, wetlands, bays and Sound that constitute our watershed and make Long Island such a desirable place to live. In the classroom and on our nature preserves, the program uses hands-on interactive lessons to demonstrate the connection between protecting land and water, and engages students in their stewardship.

Initiated in 2014 through a generous grant from the Bruderman Family, the Long Island Water Education Program has reached more than 1,000 students in 2015 from four school districts across the North and South Shores. The program – designed by Land Alliance Educator, Karen Mossey, in conjunction with two highly experienced retired teachers, Anne Codey and Eileen Rossi – is a three-lesson series for fourth, fifth and sixth graders that addresses a sampling of Common Core/NYS Education Department standards. Each lesson can be carried out individually and the program can be adapted for use with other grades or with after-school students. The Long Island Water Education Program has consistently received very favorable feedback from teachers. It is a model for other water education programs on Long Island. As the demand for the program has grown, additional sources of funding are needed to ensure that the growing number of schools who request access to the program can be accommodated.

Thanks to a generous $40,000 grant received from the New York State Conservation Partnership program, our Water Education Program will continue for two additional years. This fall we expanded to include Great Neck and Valley Stream School Districts in addition to the five with which we launched the program during the 2014/15 school year. We plan to add additional school districts next spring. The fall 2015 field trips have shown off Shore Road Sanctuary in full seasonal glory, as the photo above demonstrates, and engaged students in beach exploration, permeability testing and grassland investigation and stewardship activities. Karen Mossey has been assisted at these events by a crew of talented and dedicated volunteers: Anne Codey, Amanda Furcall, Kathy Hannigan, Harmoni Kelley and Eileen Rossi.

For more information about the North Shore Land Alliance Long Island Water Education Program, please contact Jane Jackson at 516-922-10288 or send an email to jjackson@northshorelandalliance.org.