Cayla’s Column: Litter, laughter and literature at Mount Sinai’s Cedar Beach

Cayla’s Column: Litter, laughter and literature at Mount Sinai’s Cedar Beach

By Cayla Rosenhagen

Cayla Rosenhagen

Smiles abounded on Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai during the Children’s Bird Walk and Beach Clean-Up on August 21st. Run by me and my sister through our education program, Beach Bucket Brigade, the event brought 20 children aged 4 to 12 and their families together to participate in fun, nature-themed activities. 

To kick off the program, we gathered on the beach to play ‘Sparrow Says,’ and read a book about our incredible avian life here on Long Island. Soon after, participants took to the paved nature trail to learn about and observe these birds in their natural surroundings. The children were delighted to see and hear mockingbirds, sparrows, catbirds, Mourning Doves, and cardinals.

Litter poses an immense danger to these birds as well as other local wildlife. Animals can get tangled up in it, or even ingest it, leading to heartbreaking outcomes. 

After observing such an abundance of wildlife, the families were motivated to do something to protect them, and so began the beach clean-up. Equipped with gloves and beach buckets to collect litter, we scoured the beach. We found a variety of improperly disposed-of waste including throw-away plastic utensils and straws, fishing lines, and lots of cigarettes.

At the end of the clean-up, we thanked the families for volunteering their time and told them they were heroes for doing their part to protect our environment. As a token of our gratitude, we gave the families eco-friendly souvenirs to take home with them.

The event was a great success. We collected an enormous amount of litter, all the while giving kids and their families an educational, entertaining, and fun-filled day to remember. Our hope is that by observing the wonder of nature firsthand, the younger generation will gain an even better appreciation and respect for it.

To keep an eye out for our upcoming programs, please follow us on Facebook at

Cayla Rosenhagen is a local high school student who enjoys capturing the unique charm of the community through photography and journalism. She serves on the board of directors for the Four Harbors Audubon Society and Brookhaven’s Youth Board, and is the founder and coordinator of Beach Bucket Brigade, a community outreach program dedicated to environmental awareness, engagement, and education. She is also an avid birder, hiker, and artist who is concurrently enrolled in college, pursuing a degree in teaching.