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Four Harbors Audubon Society

Birdlovers art sale to support local environmental groups

By Melissa Arnold

Birds have long fascinated nature enthusiasts of all ages, and it’s easy to understand why. Their wide variety, brilliant colors, seasonal travel and flight skills provide a lot to admire. Those same qualities have made birds a frequent subject in art for generations as well.

On the weekend of Nov. 11, the historic Bates House in Setauket will host a special 3-day art sale and silent auction entitled “Audubon and Friends.” All proceeds from the weekend will be split equally among four local organizations dedicated to protecting Long Island’s wildlife and environment: The Seatuck Environmental Association, the Four Harbors Audubon Society (4HAS), The Safina Center, and Frank Melville Memorial Park.

The idea for the event came from conservationist John Turner and his brother Craig, who shared a love for nature from their early years.

John, who is conservation chair at Seatuck and serves on the board of 4HAS, developed a passion for birding as he watched his father feed the birds as a young boy.

“I was pretty active in conservation even as a teen — when you fall in love with something, you want to see it protected and have the ability to flourish,” said the Setauket resident. “I was really affected by stories of pollution, fires and disasters on the news, and I wanted to do whatever I could to help.”

Craig Turner’s interest in birdwatching developed later, thanks to an old friend from his time in the Air Force.

“He fed all sorts of birds at his home, and whenever I would visit I would become completely captivated by watching them stop to eat,” Craig recalled. “It became a wonderful excuse for me to get outside and see what I could find, and it was a great window into exploring natural history as well.”

Craig would go on to befriend a man who lived near him in Maryland who ran an Audubon magazine and also collected an array of bird depictions, many of them made by early natural history artists. Craig found the prints beautiful and desired to start a collection of his own.

“I thought the prints would look great at home, and then eBay came along, which gave me the ability to acquire things that would otherwise be very expensive, like prints made by John James Audubon in the 1840s,” he said.

By 2012, he had amassed so many prints that he decided to open his own shop in Annapolis, Md. The Audubon and Friends Gallery sold a variety of natural history prints as well as glassware and wood carvings before its closing in 2015.

As much as he treasured each piece, it didn’t make sense for one person to have so many, Craig said to John some time afterward. Why not continue to find ways to share beautiful work with others?

And John had another thought: Why not make it for a good cause as well?

“I wanted to do whatever I could to support the hard work of environmental conservation and protection, and I thought it would be fun to explore the history of natural history art in a talk,” said Craig.

So the event took shape — the beautiful Bates House in Frank Melville Memorial Park would host more than 100 prints from some of the earliest natural history artists, including John James Audubon, Mark Catesby and Alexander Wilson. Depending on value, some pieces will be for sale, while other, rarer pieces will be available in a silent auction held throughout the weekend.

“Audubon wanted to catalogue all the North American birds in life-size prints, and his work became the pinnacle of bird engraving,” Craig explained. “The idea of owning an original natural history print appeals to a lot of people as an important part of Americana, regardless of whether or not they’re birders themselves.” 

Among the pieces included at the fundraiser are many first edition, hand-colored prints from John James Audubon’s Royal Octavo edition of “Birds of America,” a foundational work in the field. 

Visitors to the show will enjoy light refreshments throughout the weekend, and on Friday, Nov. 11, Craig Turner will offer a special presentation on the history of bird illustration.

It’s a win-win situation for natural history enthusiasts, art lovers and the organizations who will benefit.

“When John Turner approached us about the fundraiser, we thought it was a splendid idea. The art is exquisite and classic,” said Carl Safina, founder of the Safina Center in Setauket. “Birds make the world livable. They are the most beautifully obvious living things in our world and they connect everything, everywhere. It’s truly a tragedy that most people barely notice them, nor do they understand that nearly 200 species can be seen on and around Long Island in the course of a year.”

The Safina Center inspires awareness and action in the community through art, literature and other creative outlets. Safina said that their portion of the funds raised would likely benefit their fellowship program for young, up-and-coming creators.

“Henry David Thoreau said that in wilderness is the preservation of the world, and it’s never been more important to do the work of preservation,” John Turner said. “The biggest thing we can all do is think about the planet in our everyday choices. Some people don’t realize how much of an impact they can make in what they eat, what they buy, and what they reuse.”

The “Audubon and Friends” art sale and silent auction will be held at The Bates House, 1 Bates Road, Setauket on Friday, Nov. 11 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. with a special presentation from Craig Turner titled “A History of Bird Illustration” at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Nov. 12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Sunday, Nov. 13 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is free to attend. For more information, call the Bates House at 631-689-7054.

Audubon lecture

Join the Four Harbors Audubon Society for an autumn lecture via Zoom on Wednesday, September 28 from 8 to 9 p.m. Guest speaker and naturalist, artist, writer Julie Zickefoose will discuss her latest book, Saving Jemima: Life and Love With a Hard-luck Jay, the intimate story of how an orphaned bird can save a soul, which she wrote and illustrated after spending nearly a year healing, studying and raising a young blue jay for release.

From the press release:

Naturalist/artist/writer Julie Zickefoose thinks of herself as an unsung, minor, rather dirty superhero. Her superpower: saving small, economically worthless wildlife that would otherwise die. An orphaned jay named Jemima was one such foundling. Spending nearly a year healing, studying and raising the young blue jay for release opened the door to their world for Julie. She began writing and illustrating Saving Jemima: Life and Love With a Hard-luck Jay immediately upon becoming her foster mother. More than a wildlife rehab story, it’s the story of life, love and dealing with great loss; of finding grace and redemption in bonding with a wild bird.

Julie Zickefoose lives and works quietly on an 80-acre wildlife sanctuary in the back country of Whipple, Ohio. She is a prolific writer and painter and Advising Editor to BWD Magazine. Her heavily illustrated books include Natural Gardening for Birds, Letters from Eden, The Bluebird Effect, and Baby Birds: An Artist Looks Into the Nest. Saving Jemima: Life and Love With a Hard- Luck Jay, the intimate story of how an orphaned bird can save a soul, is her newest book.


This special event is free and open to all. Reservations required. To join this Zoom presentation, you must register in advance by clicking on the link here. Afterwards you will receive an email with link and instructions on how to join the presentation. For more information, visit www.4has.org.

Bird lovers gather at the Stone Bridge at Frank Melville Memorial Park to witness the common nighthawk migration. Photo from Four Harbors Audubon Society


It’s that time of year again! Starting on August 27, the Four Harbors Audubon Society will be tallying migrating Common Nighthawks to better understand nighthawk population trends. Join them at the stone bridge at Frank Melville Memorial Park, One Old Field Road, Setauket to witness nighthawks as they pass over during their migratory journey to their wintering grounds in Brazil and Argentina. The watch dates are August 27 to October 6, 5:30 p.m. until dusk. Visit www.4has.org for further details.

This year's Wet Paint Festival will be held at the Sherwood-Jayne Farm in East Setauket. Photo courtesy of Preservation Long Island

By Melissa Arnold

Since 2004, Gallery North’s annual Wet Paint Festival has invited artists from far and wide to revel in nature’s beauty. For a week or a weekend, artists enjoy each other’s company and a healthy dose of plein air painting — the tricky, constantly changing art of working outdoors.

This year’s festival, scheduled for June 4 and 5, will be held at the historic and picturesque Sherwood-Jayne Farm on Old Post Road in East Setauket and seeks to build upon past events where visitors can watch the artists work and ask questions about their creative process. There will also be the opportunity to tour the Sherwood-Jayne House, go bird watching, enjoy live music and more.

An artist paints plein air at the Sherwood-Jayne Farm. Photo from Preservation Long Island

“The landscape of the show has changed in a variety of ways over the years, not just in location but in the way it’s structured,” said Ned Puchner, executive director of Gallery North. “During the pandemic, people could paint remotely for a two-week period. Last year, we had a few different locations to choose from. This year, we’re returning to the traditional style of having a specific site where everyone will come together and paint for a weekend, with some additional activities for the public to enjoy.”

The Sherwood-Jayne Farm was originally slated to host the Wet Paint Festival in 2020, and planning for the event was nearly complete when the pandemic shut things down.  

“Gallery North reached out to us a few years ago looking to change up the festival from the way it was done in the past,” said Elizabeth Abrams, Assistant Director of Operations and Programs for Preservation Long Island, which cares for the property. “We used to team up with the gallery for an apple festival, and considering we are just down the street from each other, it was natural for us to work together again.”

Preservation Long Island is a multifaceted not-for-profit organization dedicated to protecting Long Island’s history and culture. Founded in 1948, their focus is on education, advocacy, and the stewardship of historic buildings and artifacts.

Abrams explained that the Sherwood-Jayne House was built in 1730 as an early colonial, lean-to salt box dwelling. The house and surrounding farmland were cared for by the Jayne family for more than 150 years. In 1908, it was acquired by the founder of Preservation Long Island, Howard Sherwood, who lived in the home and displayed a variety of antiques there.

Throughout the weekend, the Sherwood-Jayne House will be open for tours with Preservation Long Island curator Lauren Brincat. Keep an eye out for the Tallmadge wall panels, and the incredibly beautiful wall mural in the parlor that’s meant to look like wallpaper — they are very rare to see, especially on Long Island, Abrams added.

“The house contains a large portion of Howard Sherwood’s personal antique collection and other bits of history from colonial Long Island. This area had a foundational role in American history — exploring the house and its collections are a unique way to learn more about that important time period,” she said.

There will be plenty of outdoor inspiration for the artists at the festival as well. The property is also home to a variety of outbuildings and trails, gorgeous old-growth walnut trees, an apple orchard, and all kinds of wildlife. 

The Four Harbors Audubon Society will lead tours exploring the wildlife and ecology of the area, with a particular focus on local birds. If the barn is open, you might be lucky enough to meet some goats, a few sheep, or an old, sweet white horse named Snowball.

Visitors are free to wander the grounds at their leisure, watch the artists work or ask questions, Puchner said. For those who are feeling shy or not sure what to ask, an artist will offer a guided tour and lead discussions once each day.

“The whole objective of the Wet Paint Festival is to help people understand what goes into the process of creating a painting, and to meet local artists. It’s a great way for someone who has no artistic experience to learn how it all works,” Puchner said.

Nancy Bueti-Randall, pictured in her studio, will join over 40 other artists at this year’s Gallery North Wet Paint Festival.
Photo by Heidi Sutton/TBR News Media

Over 40 artists will be participating this weekend including Nancy Bueti-Randall of Stony Brook who began to paint outdoors as a way to recharge while raising her three children. She’s spent more than 20 years creating and showing her work, which runs the gamut from pictorial to abstract, figures and landscapes. Most of the time, though, she’s painting in her garden or other familiar surroundings.

Sometimes, she’ll start a painting with the idea to focus on one thing, but something else in a landscape will catch her eye instead.

“There are a lot of challenges with plein air painting. It’s very fleeting — a landscape is always changing, even from day to day,” Bueti-Randall explained. “You have to be fast and responsive to what’s going on around you. It’s about becoming engaged with the thing you’re painting. I can get overwhelmed by beauty, and I try to capture the essence of what I’m seeing in a process of give and take.”

Marceil Kazickas of Sands Point considers herself an artistic late bloomer. She started drawing and painting to cope with a health crisis, and found that when she was being creative, she wasn’t in pain. Kazickas prefers to work in oil, which she loves for its luscious, sensual properties.

“When you go outside, there’s an overwhelming amount of information to take in — the views are always changing, the clock is running, and you want to get your design done quickly because the light and shadows are constantly evolving,” she explained. 

“I’m not as focused on painting exactly what I see … People can get caught up in producing a finished, frameable piece of art, but for me it’s exciting to be outside and come up with whatever I can in the short time I’m out there, even if it’s nothing. It’s about the painting process.”

Puchner hopes that the variety of activities, including a scavenger hunt for kids and live music from the Keenan Paul Zach Trio and Tom Killourhy, will appeal to all kinds of people.

“These new additions will give the public the opportunity to enjoy nature, the arts and history all in one place, and our artists will have a fun new location to experiment and be creative in,” he said.

The 18th Annual Wet Paint Festival will be held June 4 and 5 at the Sherwood-Jayne Farm, 55 Old Post Road, East Setauket from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Rain date is June 18 and 19. The event is free and open to the public. 

All participating artists will have their festival work on display in an exhibit at Gallery North, 90 North Country Road, Setauket, from July 7 through Aug 7. A free opening reception will be held at the gallery from on July 7 from 6 to 8 p.m. 

For more information about the festival or to register to paint, visit www.gallerynorth.org or call 631-751-2676. Learn more about Sherwood-Jayne Farm at www.preservationlongisland.org.

Photo by Raina Angelier

By Tara Mae

Communities, both human and otherwise, thrive through connection. Four Harbors Audubon Society celebrates these relationships with a Tree Fest, a community event hosted at Three Village Historical Society, 93 North Country Road in Setauket, on Saturday, May 28, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Visitors will be able to partake in raffles, face painting, arts and crafts, educational exhibits by Avalon Nature Preserve and Living Lands Habitat Garden Design, a live bird presentation by Sweetbriar Nature Center of Smithtown, and other activities.  

During the event, Four Harbors Audubon Society will be giving away native tree and shrub whips procured from the Department of Conservation’s Saratoga Farm. These will include Black Cherry, Pussy Willow, Bare Oak, Beach Plum, Bayberry, Button Bush, and Red Osier Dogwood. In addition, a native plant sale will feature local flora such as shrubs, grasses, and spring/early summer flowering herbaceous plants. 

Board member Sue Avery said that the demand for native plants has increased in recent years as gardeners have become more cognizant of the benefits of growing them. Four Harbors promotes the national Audubon Society’s Plants for Birds initiative, which is an online resource that identifies the best plants for local birds. “We hope to raise awareness on the significance of trees and native plants for our ecosystem and how essential they are for birds,” Avery added.

Native plants are integral to the biosphere and local ecosystems. They provide fruits, berries, and nuts for birds as well as other animals and create a habitat for pollinators and other insects. 

The Tree Fest aligns with the national Audubon Society’s objective of restoring the wildlife and plants that have diminished or disappeared because of climate change, habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, pollution, and other environmental factors. 

“Basically, National Audubon and Audubon New York call this type of work bird-friendly communities work,” President of the Audubon Society Joy Cirigliano said.

Creating and supporting a stable environment for birds is incorporated into the Audubon Society’s mission, which recently launched the Bird Oasis Program that encourages residents to construct habitats in their yards to support bird life. 

“Part of the Audubon Society’s work is to restore as much habitat as possible because when birds thrive, people prosper. Everything in the natural world is connected and the health of one goes hand and with the health of the other,” Cirigliano said. 

Throughout the year, the Audubon Society organizes bird walks, installs native plant gardens in public places, and advocates for open spaces. Such a commitment to the local environment and its inhabitants is a trait Three Village Historical Society (TVHS) Director Mari Irizarry recognizes well. 

“Community is at the core of every program we run at TVHS and, we are absolutely thrilled to host Four Harbors Audubon Society on May 28th for their annual Tree Fest,” Irizarry said. “We support Four Harbors Audubon Society mission to protect and preserve birds, wildlife, and the places and resources needed, for today and tomorrow.”

Admission to the Tree Fest is free with a rain date of May 29. For more information, please visit https://4has.org or call 631-675-1803. 

Above, a Killdeer sits on its nest at Heckscher State Park in East Islip. Photo by Raina Angelier/Twin Roses Photography

By Cayla Rosenhagen

Cayla Rosenhagen

The Killdeer is a large, migratory plover that tends to nest in odd places around Long Island, such as school ballfields, golf courses, grass strips next to shopping malls, and even in parking lots! 

These locations are heavily trafficked by people and therefore extremely hazardous to the parent birds and their eggs or chicks. Frequently, Killdeer eggs are unintentionally run over by lawnmowers, cars, or trampled by human feet. 

However, this doesn’t have to happen. With the help of the Four Harbors Audubon Society’s newly-launched Killdeer Protection Program, you can contribute to a Killdeer success story!

First, where, and how can you spot a Killdeer; and secondly, how would you know it’s in trouble?  

Keep an eye out for Killdeer here from mid-March to August, their breeding season. The Killdeer we see journeyed from their winter foraging grounds in Central and South America to build nests and raise their chicks here. These birds will spend most of their time on the ground in grassy areas laden with their favorite foods, like worms, grasshoppers, and other insects. 

Unlike other plover species, Killdeer do not necessarily live by the water, and so you may frequently spot them inland. Both males and females are about the size of a blue jay, sporting mostly brown and white feathers with two distinctive black bands on their breast. Listen to them closely, and you may hear their high-pitched namesake call: “Kill-deer!” 

A Killdeer searches for insects at Frank Melville Memorial Park in Setauket. Photo by Raina Angelier/Twin Roses Photography

Like other shorebirds, Killdeer nests are shallow depressions in the ground called “scrapes.” Here, they lay 4 to 6 eggs per clutch, twice in the season. The tan and brown speckled eggs are well-camouflaged and can easily be mistaken for rocks. Although this camouflage adaptation helps hide the eggs from predators such as crows and raccoons, it also makes it difficult for people to notice them, or to avoid interfering with the nest site. 

What should you do if you find a nest in danger? 

If you happen upon a nest, you are likely to see one of the Killdeer parents feigning a broken wing, luring you further and further away from the nest and its eggs. This “broken-wing dance” is a clear sign you have approached a Killdeer nest too closely. Make a note of the location, place a marker nearby if possible, and reach out as soon as possible to the 4HAS’s Killdeer Protection Program by email:  [email protected] 

Do not attempt to move the nest yourself. Since the Killdeer is a native migratory bird species, it is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It is, therefore, illegal to disrupt the active nest in any way without a permit. 

The members and volunteers of the 4HAS Killdeer Protection Program will work fast to make sure the nest is secured by roping it off, by bringing awareness to the site via signs and colorful pylons, and by making contact with the landowners for access. Once the Killdeer chicks fledge or become independent from their parents, members of the program will remove the barriers from the location. 

For more information about this remarkable bird, visit https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Killdeer. Thank you for looking after our feathered friends in need! 

Thank you so much to my fellow Killdeer Protection Program team members Elaine Maas, Patrice Domeischel, and Georgia Turner for their contributions to this article.

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.

Join the Four Harbors Audubon Society for a free screening of The National Parks: America’s Best Idea – Ken Burns – EPISODE TWO: 1890 –1915: The Last Refuge (2009) at the Smithtown Library, 1 North Country Road, Smithtown on Friday, Jan. 7 at 6:30 p.m.

Part of the series, The National Parks: Americas Best Idea, this episode tells how, by the end of the 19th century, industrialization had left many Americans worried about whether the country would have any pristine land left. Poachers in the parks were rampant, and visitors were littering or carving their names in wilderness sites. Congress had yet to establish judicial authority or set aside appropriations for protection of the parks.

This sparked a conservation movement by organizations such as the Sierra Club, led by John Muir; the Audubon Society, led by George Bird Grinnell; and the Boone and Crockett Club, led by Theodore Roosevelt. Learn about how America and Americans protected their last national open spaces. Age appropriate from those in middle school to retirees! For the budding environmentalist, and also those curious about how nature and the natural world works. All are welcome, as are questions and comments.

The screening is free and open to all but reservations required. Call Joy Cirigliano at 631-766-3075 or call the Smithtown Library at 631-360-2480, ext. 232, to reserve seating.

Photo from 4HAS

Native shrubs and herbaceous perennials that are valuable for pollinators and in a bird-friendly habitat will be for sale at the Four Harbors Audubon Society Fall Plant Sale on Oct. 2 at the Safina Center, 80 North Country Road, East Setauket. 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. FHAS members only, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. open to the general public. For more information, call 675-1803 or visit www.4has.org.

John Turner points to a flock of Common Nighthawks passing overhead. Photo by Patricia Paladines

By John L. Turner

Beginning on Friday, August 27th, the Four Harbors Audubon Society will kick off its fifth season of the “Stone Bridge Nighthawk Watch” at Frank Melville Park in Setauket. Each night participants will meet on the north sidewalk of the Stone Bridge (where Main Street crosses the water) and count Common Nighthawks as they pass overhead during their fall migration.

The Watch begins at 5:30 p.m. and concludes at dusk each night, when observers typically see bats emerge to forage for insects over the ponds. Sometimes participants are rewarded with a dozen or so nighthawks feeding on aerial insects low over the ponds before it gets too dark.

Nighthawks, related to whip-poor-wills, are highly migratory birds that leave the Northern hemisphere in the autumn as their insect prey wanes, ending up a few weeks later in the Amazon River basin where they overwinter. Unfortunately, as with so many bird species the Common Nighthawk is declining and the Nighthawk Watch was established by the Four Harbors Audubon Society as an effort to gather more specific long-term data about its numbers and population trends. 

Participants often see other birds species such as Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Great Blue and Green Herons, Belted Kingfisher, many types of songbirds and mute swans. The Watch runs through to October 6. Please join us. The only items recommended for you to bring along are binoculars and a healthy curiosity about the natural world!

Frank Melville Memorial Park is located at 1 Old Field Road, Setauket. For more information, visit www.4has.org.

By Cayla Rosenhagen

Cayla Rosenhagen

“Look, look! There’s a bird up in this tree … and there’s a nest, too!”

A young boy with binoculars pressed against his face cheerfully announces what he has found. An American Robin flies to her nest, cozily tucked in a nearby cedar; the child notices she has a worm in her bill. More young birders gather to watch in awe of the mother robin feeding her recently hatched chicks.

Nothing compares to watching a child’s face light up with happiness and fascination as they become immersed in the world of birds. I had the joy of seeing this firsthand. On June 27th, my sister Iris and I launched the first Children’s Birding Adventure at Frank Melville Memorial Park in Setauket for Four Harbors Audubon Society. 

The event began early in the afternoon at the entrance to the park, as enthusiastic families circled around to introduce themselves on the lawn overlooking the lake. Their children ranged in age from infancy to age 10 and were bubbling over with questions and stories about wildlife they had seen. One of the participants, Olivia, 8, a birder for about two years, looked forward to seeing a Northern Cardinal, one of her favorite backyard birds. 

Before our walk began, the children engaged in a round of nature-inspired activities, including Sparrow Says (Simon Says with an aviary twist) and a storytime, featuring a book by Kermit Cummings entitled A Backyard Birding Adventure: What’s in Your Yard? To further their birding knowledge, we presented the budding ornithologists with a photo album of birds we were likely to spot on our adventure. Bird BINGO cards, illustrating the same feathered friends, were handed out to all the children so they could record their sightings in a novel manner. Each youngster was then lent a pair of child-sized binoculars and taught how to use them.

Eagerly, we headed down the path encircling the picturesque Mill Pond. As we strolled the half-mile paved loop, a dozen children and their families surveyed their surroundings for birds and were met with great success. Catbirds, swallows, woodpeckers, swans, and warblers filled the lenses of every pair of binoculars. Little eyes spotted blue jays, sparrows, and egrets; the children announced their birding discoveries to the group with delight. The group paused along the old stone bridge and I pointed out turtles on a floating log and the blackbirds who nest in the nearby reeds. When birds weren’t readily in sight, scurrying chipmunks, zigzagging butterflies, and the iridescent wings of dragonflies captivated the young minds. As the hour-long event came to a close, it was so gratifying to hear from both parents and kids alike that fun was had by all, and much was learned about the natural world.  

The members of Four Harbors Audubon Society have been my role models and mentors for many years and continue to inspire me. I started participating in their monthly bird walks when I was the age of many of the children who attended Saturday’s event. At age 16, I now serve on the Board of Directors for 4HAS, and it is a privilege for me to contribute to the younger generation’s love and appreciation of birds. Who knows? Birding may become a lifelong passion for them, as it has for me.

In the future, Four Harbors Audubon Society plans to run the Children’s Birding Adventures on a seasonal basis. If you are interested in joining us for our next program, please email us at [email protected] 

Cayla Rosenhagen is a local high school student who enjoys capturing the unique charm of the community through photojournalism. In addition to the Four Harbors Audubon Society, she serves on the board of directors for 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.