Local group looks back on what has been accomplished and what we can do to help
Programs connecting youngsters and adults to nature through education as a grooming tool towards future stewardship of the earth is the galvanizing mission of Center for Environmental Education and Discovery. It is also this Brookhaven nonprofit’s major weapon to fight climate change damage.
“I worked with the William Floyd School District in conjunction with Bellport Village, utilizing their ferry to Ho Hum Beach after Superstorm Sandy in 2013 and walked the students to the Old Inlet breach,” said Eric Powers, CEED co-founder and program and site director. “These were high school juniors whose homes had been flooded and wrecked. We took measurements of all kinds and studied the results before and after the storm, like why the eelgrass beds were coming back. We even saw a sea turtle, which eats eelgrass, and then discussed how important the breach was to the ecosystem.” The students were tasked with presenting whether to close the breach or keep it open.
“They all agreed to keep it,” Powers said of the 40 students.
The Beach to Breach program is still a hot seller and one of 25 programs CEED offers. Powers is now living on-site as CEED’s caretaker along with the animals he shows. Two box turtles he brought out were being rehabilitated; one was underweight, the other had a respiratory issue.
How does CEED abate global warming?
It’s been four years since CEED’s nonprofit status became official and two years since the keys were handed over to the old Washington Lodge. When the Marist Brothers of the Schools Inc. left in 2010, the Post-Morrow Foundation, Suffolk County and Brookhaven Town collaborated to save the 9.6-acre parcel and its structure.
“It starts with the kids,” explained Rebecca Muellers, co-founder and executive director. “Our immediate role in climate change is CEED’s courses and the experiences they provide.” If you’re not aware of nature, Muellers pointed out, you’ll walk through life buying gas-guzzling cars, chopping down trees unnecessarily, aiming for excessive consumption, and dismissing recycling.
Plans for the future
“Creating a collaborative office hub offering space to other environmental nonprofits,” Muellers said of a main aim for the 7,000-square-foot building. “That would encourage a synergy hub of collective ideas that would generate major change,” added Powers. Renovation plans also include adding green technology as a showplace for homeowners to view available possibilities. A grant for an innovative waste system is in the works.
How can I help?
“Help us get the building open, so we can do more and have it become a community and environmental hub,” said Muellers of welcome donations. “And attend our programs so you can understand what you’re seeing on a daily basis. (Donate and find out about programs at ceedli.org.)
“Also, be outside and connect with nature,” she added. n