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Megan Frey

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) recently announced the creation of the WMHO West Meadow Field Guide and GCIS Survey. Working hand-in-hand, these creations will allow the public to identify and record environmental and ecological data.

Using the field guide to identify plants and animal species within the preserve, the public can store species and water quality data on the GCIS Survey webpage. The survey will be available soon on the WMHO website (WMHO.org). During preliminary testing, Ms. Megan Frey of the Frey Family Foundation found and recorded calanoid, a microscopic arthropod, within her first sample of wetlands water.

The announcement at the WMHO’s Earth Day event —Wetlands Legacies — at the Dr. Erwin Ernst Marine Conservation Center at West Meadow Creek Preserve on April 22. 

The event included guest speakers Megan Frey and Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolution Dr. Jeffrey Levinton, as well as a specially created drone video of the wetlands habitats by Nathan Levinton. The WMHO Youth Corps led exhibits that educated the public on water quality testing, the species of the area, the expeditions and life of world-renowned naturalist and ornithologist Dr. Robert Cushman Murphy, as well as the environmental challenges of WMHO’s pristine 88-acre wetlands preserve. Murphy, along with Dr. Erwin Ernst and Ward Melville, worked together in 1960 to create the West Meadow Creek Preserve.

Elected officials in attendance included former New York State Assemblyman, Steve Englebright,  Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine and Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich, who spoke about the various aspects of Long Island’s ecology and environments, as well as Dr. Murphy’s role in protecting them.  

Photo from WMHO

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) hosted its second Long Island Sound Connections Summit in the first week of June. This virtual, hands-on collaborative learning program connects students across Long Island Sound and allows them to conduct their own experiments to better understand the water systems in their environment.

Long Island Sound Connections is the first program to connect both shores with students from New York and Connecticut – With virtual class check-ins, “summits” where students present their findings, and an ongoing collection of data and that information’s analysis. The Long Island Sound Connections program was designed to help students learn about the Long Island Sound and to inspire them to protect their environment. The program is offered via distance learning from the WMHO’s Erwin J. Ernst Marine Conservation Center (EMCC), students have front row seats to one of the most pristine natural resources in the Northern Hemisphere.

WMHO collaborated with University of Stony Brook Professor Jeffrey Levinton of the Ecology and Evolution Department to develop a system of data collection parameters for monitoring West Meadow Creek’s water quality and species counts. Professor Levinton will continue to support WMHO in developing this multipronged project that seeks to educate the public while providing data representing the creek’s health over time to the public and researchers.

Students performed their own experiments and led their own research on the topics of water salinization, acidity and quality, and human impact on the environment. Students also compared and contrasted their two environments (suburban and urban), and presented it to their partner class. The research collected from both sides of the Long Island Sound has been entered in WHMO’s software. Each season additional data will be added to it to create a map to assist researchers of all ages to understand the similarities and differences and track changes over time.

The second “Summit” of classes in this program was between Michelle Millers’ 6th Grade Science Class from Middle Country School District in Selden, New York, and Victoria Soltis and Angelica Lawrence’s 6th Grade Science from Edison Elementary School in Bridgeport, who worked in collaboration with Mill River Wetland Committee. With grants provided by the Fullwood Foundation, the Frey Family Foundation and Webster Bank, this program was offered to participating classes free of charge. All costs associated with the program were sponsored by these organizations.

Pictured from left are Megan Frey, Frey Family Foundation; Max Frey; Deborah Boudreau, Education Director, WMHO; Gloria Rocchio, President, WMHO; New York State Senator Mario R. Mattera, 2nd Senate District; Dr. Richard Rugen, Chairman, WMHO; Kathleen Mich, Trustee, WMHO. Not shown, Nicole Sarno, Business Manager, Webster Bank and Dr. Robert Parker, The Fullwood Foundation.

For more information about the WMHO, on the Long Island Sound Connection program, other historic, environmental and scientific programs that the WMHO offers, please call 631-751-2244 or visit wmho.org.