Our educational programming has been building for some time. Through our outreach, educational panel discussions and our Walks in the Woods, the Land Alliance has felt the need to have a stronger presence in local schools. At the same time, there is increasing recognition that Long Island’s water is perhaps our community’s most precious and possibly most vulnerable resource. Still, 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 harbors, Long Island Sound and the ocean.  For all of these reasons, a generous donor has offered to fund a part-time educator to enter local schools to implement a three-lesson series of programs that will start in the classroom and move outdoors.  Students will learn about Long Island’s groundwater, surface waters and watersheds and stewardship of this essential resource, while using interactive models, diagrams, maps and aerial photos. Designed for fourth graders, the program can be modified for use with other ages or with after-school students. A selection of follow-up activities participants can do on their own or with their classroom teachers will be included, and state and federal education standards will be addressed.

With an introduction in the classroom, the first lesson will introduce students to the aquifer from which their drinking water comes. Students will learn how water enters and leaves the aquifer and how contaminants and excessive use can threaten water quality and quantity.

The second lesson, to be conducted on school grounds or within walking distance of the school, will identify the concept of watersheds. This will include a discussion on where rain goes and describe storm water runoff and its connection to the health of our streams, ponds, bays and Long Island Sound. Students will assess how their activities can be harmful or beneficial to our surface waters.

The final lesson will take place at a local nature preserve where there is a pond, stream or beach. Students will identify where they are in a watershed and the role local topography plays in shaping the water body at the site. They will also make comparisons between the preserve
and nearby developed land and discuss features that may impact water quality. Through any of a number of activities (including water quality or soil testing, a beach exploration, planting native plants, a study of wildlife at the site and pulling invasive plants), participants will become familiar with the preserve and interactions among its inhabitants. This will help students recognize how their actions can affect the quality and quantity of its water for preserve visitors and inhabitants alike. We hope that implementation of this program in local schools will encourage students, and, in turn, their families, to become stewards of the waters that make Long Island such a desirable place to live.

If your school would like to participate, please contact Jane Jackson at 516-922-1028 or send an email to
jjackson@northshorelandalliance.org.