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GLIN==> Lake Ontario Dune Steward Program: press release

Title: Lake Ontario Dune Steward Program: press release
For Immediate Release: June 3, 2003
Contact: Molly Thompson, NY Sea Grant, 315-312-3042

JPEG of Stewards by Request: 315-465-7578, karalynn@gisco.net
See final paragraphs re: stewards from Bethleham, Fulton, Oriskany Falls, NY; and Russellville, AL

Dune Steward Program Providing Experience, Employment;
Building Conservation Officers, Teacher, Researcher, Consultant

Lake Ontario shoreline, 06-03-03 ‹ Evan Proulx has always enjoyed the outdoors. The recent SUNY-Oswego Public Justice-degree graduate minored in Biology and Forensic Science. His career goal is to be an Environmental Conservation officer. The skills heıs learned as a dune steward along Lake Ontario support that goal.

³The stewards program has helped me develop leadership and people skills that an enforcement officer can use. Iıve learned a lot about how fragile our ecosystems are and how to communicate that to the public,² says Evan, who is Senior Steward this year.

Two additional students from SUNY-Oswego and two students from the College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse are ³patrolling² four sites along the Lake: Sandy Pond Beach, Southwick Beach, and Deer Creek and Black Pond Wildlife Management Areas - now through Labor Day weekend.

³Many of the people on the beaches do not realize they canıt, and shouldnıt, walk on the sand dunes,² Evans says.

The stewardsı job is to educate the public about the importance of protecting the dunes and neighboring wetlands, says Molly Thompson of New York Sea Grant, Oswego. She supervises the steward program. This yearıs crew will survey visitors at the four sites to update demographic statistics collected in the late 1980s.

Collecting data and telling visitors about the ³rules of the beach² promotes understanding of the habitat and often prompts questions about the plants and wildlife, Evan says.

This is Evanıs second year in the Dune program funded by New York Sea Grant, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, The Nature Conservancy, and grant funding from the New York State Great Lakes Protection Fund. The program is coordinated in partnership with the members of the Ontario Dune Coaltion.  

Evan, a native of Clay, New York, parlayed last summerıs steward experience into an additional part-time summer job redesigning the dunes and associated web pages for New York Sea Grant.

"The computer work has helped me learn how to accurately collect data and summarize it into a conclusion. This work directly relates to the skills an Environmental Conservation Officer uses to write incident reports accurately," says Evan.

Evan hopes to take the New York State Environmental Conservation Officerıs exam in the fall.

Dune Work Rewards Each Steward
Completing the 2003 Summer Dune Steward Crew with Evan are Willow Eyres of Bethleham, NY; Rachel Habig of Russellville, AL; Charles Hawkins of Fulton, NY; and Jeffrey Nassimos of Oriskany Falls, NY.

"I plan on working in the Wildlife Management field or doing wildlife research. Being a dune steward is great not only because I'm meeting and working with all the people who do what I want to do, but I'm gaining valuable information about how to manage and protect a site as well as how to deal with the public," says Willow Eyres, a Biology major at SUNY-Oswego.

Rachel Habig is a PhD candidate at the College of Environmental Science & Forestry in Syracuse. Her goal after graduation is to conduct research and teach outdoor recreation and environmental stewardship.

A Public Justice major at SUNY-Oswego, Charles Hawkins says he is enjoying learning about environmental issues on state lands and learning from the state Environmental Conservation and Park Rangers he is meeting as part of the dune steward program. His career goal is to become an Environmental Conservation officer.

Jeffrey Nassimos is studying environmental policy and management at the College of Environmental Science & Forestry with the objective of becoming a consultant. "I'm learning to work as a team and about the key role public outreach plays in the environmental policy and management discipline."

For more information on the Dune Steward Program and other New York Sea Grant extension programs, visit www.nysgextension.org.
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