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Music, Dance, and Fun at CEED

Music, Dance, and Fun at CEED

Music, Dance, and Fun at CEED

At our Summer Solstice Festival on Saturday, June 18 (from 11:00-3:00), you’ll be treated all during the festival to special entertainers in fitting with our All Things Native theme:

MusicWalter Rojos is a master of the pan flute, an instrument of the Americas.

DanceThe Shinnecock Dancers will share the dances of their tribe, one of the original Long Island tribes. 

There will also be food, live animals, and activities for kids. Join us!

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Teens Conserving Nature

Teens Conserving Nature

Teens Conserving Nature

CEED’s summer Leadership and Conservation Program gives your teen the chance to not just learn about conservation, but also do real conservation work. One of the projects this summer will be to learn to use apps like iNaturalist to identify plant and animal species on the 60 acres of Brookhaven and Suffolk County land CEED stewards. This will help us document invasive and threatened species, so we can make long-term plans to improve our habitat. Then the young people will develop their leadership skills by designing and creating ways to teach younger kids about nature and conservation. 

And “Leadership and Conservation Program” looks great on a college application!

There is a three-week program and a two-week program. Register today to make sure you can fit your family’s summer schedule.

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Questions for a Co-Founder – Eric

Questions for a Co-Founder – Eric

Questions for a Co-Founder – Eric

As with many people, I had the fortune of knowing Ranger Eric Powers for a very long time, but not really knowing him beneath the “Ranger Eric” persona.  The past couple of years, I have had the opportunity to learn more about who he is and understand how he got to the point of starting our successful non-profit organization Art & Nature Group, Inc. dba CEED. 

We first met many years ago, before cell phones were the norm.  I worked for a summer program through SCOPE outdoor education when I was a teacher and Ranger Eric was a full-time employee for SCOPE/ Western Suffolk BOCES outdoor education program. We were camping at Blydenburgh County Park with a bunch of pre-teens and Eric stopped by.  It was August of 2003 when we had the big blackout in the Northeast.  We had no idea there was no electric on Long Island because we were camping. What I remember most about Eric were his bird calls and his ability to get the children away from talking about video games and other non-nature activities.  He had and still has a gift of getting people excited about nature.  I jumped at the opportunity to interview Ranger Eric Powers because I know we would all love to learn more about this what brought him to Long Island almost 30 years ago and how he got to where he is now. The following is my interview with Ranger Eric Powers, co-founder of CEED. Sally Wellinger, Executive Director

1) What inspired you to enter the field of conservation and environmental education?

“Well, it was a series of events.  After college, I landed my dream job as a park ranger.  After 2 years, I realized it was more of telling people what they can’t do instead of teaching people why you would want to protect the Earth.  I found myself gravitating to helping at the nature center whenever I had the opportunity.  When the director left, I asked if I could fill in and they said yes.  I really felt I was making a bigger difference in the world and loved creating programs and teaching about animals.”

2) Is there one person who comes to mind as an inspiration for you?

“There actually are two people that come first in my mind, for two different reasons. First, David Attenborough with his nature videos, that have always inspired me to learn about the natural world.  Second, Larry Rogstad, a game warden who I worked with in Colorado, helped me find my career path.  I would ride around with him and learn what he did as a game warden and discuss different opportunities.”

3) What brought you to Long Island from Colorado?

“My career plan was to travel around the United States taking seasonal jobs. After two years of travelling the country, I saw a full-time position with Western Suffolk BOCES posted as an outdoor educator.  I applied, got an interview, and flew to Long Island on my last dollar.  I felt great about the interview and was offered the position the next day.  I put all of my belongings, which were mostly skulls, furs, rocks, and camping gear in the back of a pick-up truck and drove to Long Island.” 

4) Who was your first friend on Long Island?

“I have to say my first friend I met on Long Island is Barbara LaGois. (Who by the way is one of CEED’s most dedicated volunteers!). I went on an Audubon night hike looking for owls.  They were repeatedly playing a recording, which I am not a fan of recordings.  After a while, I started using my Eastern Screech Owl call to answer back to the recording.  The crowd was excited to hear the owl respond back to the recording.  Barbara was the only person who noticed it was me calling back and we became fast friends.  Another early friend, Patrick …., took me kayaking on every stream and river on Long Island, which really helped me learn about all of the natural places on the island.”

5) When did you start your own company YC2N (Your Connection to Nature)?

“I started my own company in 2005.  As an outdoor educator for schools at Caleb Smith State Park with BOCES, I noticed there was a huge calling for bringing environmental education programs into schools, especially with live animals. It was a perfect way to blend my interests of handling animals and environmental education into a career.”

6) What were your feelings about taking the jump to start your own company?

“It was terrifying and a huge leap of faith.  My mom and all my friends supported the idea, but I had no funding and no idea on how to run a business. I used all my savings to start and took a business class on writing business plans.  I was taking any program that came my way, which gave me the phrase of doing programs from ‘Manhattan to Montauk’.”

7) What was your biggest surprise when starting YC2N?

“Honestly, that it would take off so quickly.  I was immediately booking programs left and right.  My biggest stumbling block was getting the website running.  Back then creating a website was much more difficult and I did not have the technology experience.”

8) Can you remember the first moment when the thought of the Art & Nature Group, Inc. came to be?

“I had known John DiNaro, local Brookhaven Hamlet artist, for a long time prior to the start of our art and nature collaboration.  He was gifted at painting environmental murals in schools with students and we met through BOCES.  We noticed an increase in requests from art teachers wanting art programs that were connected to nature.  We started meeting with other artists and discussing possibilities. 

“At the same time, I was doing some work with Journeys in Native American Territories.  I learned my survival skills through a Native American survival teacher, so these skills paired well with teaching Native American methods. Through this program, I met Uaian, a Taino story teller.

“At dinner one night, we just came up with a potential theme of art and nature combined and the four of us would each take a corner of a gym for an interactive assembly.  We called it the Art & Nature Group.  I listed it with BOCES and the first year several schools booked our program.”

9) Once the assembly Art & Nature program became successful, what was your next step toward where we are today?

“Since we had attracted several other environmental artists into the group, we knew our next step was to find a physical location for two reasons.  First, we needed space to put all of our accumulated supplies and equipment. Second, we wanted a location where we could provide our offerings. At that time. I had just met Rebecca Muellers in a Master Naturalist program I was teaching.  She jumped right in and offered to help.

“We travelled all over Suffolk County viewing potential locations that were recommended to us.  John DiNaro knew Jim and Pauline Hazard, also local residents.  Jim Hazard is the Facilities Manager for the Post Morrow Foundation.  Jim and Pauline were working hard at trying to think of ways to use the Washington Lodge and the surrounding grounds.  Jim Hazard had connected me and Rebecca with Tom Williams, one of the board of directors for the Post Morrow Foundation.  Rebecca crafted a proposal to the Post Morrow Board of Directors, who in turn introduced them to the Town of Brookhaven.  From there, Rebecca opened negotiations with the town and here we are today, located in this amazing community that has been connecting art and nature for over a century.”

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Honoring 50 Years of Environmentalism on Long Island!

Honoring 50 Years of Environmentalism on Long Island!

Honoring 50 Years of Environmentalism on Long Island!

When we celebrate All Things Native at our Summer Solstice Festival on Saturday, June 18 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., we’ll also be noting a very special anniversary. Fifty years ago this month, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the use of the pesticide DDT nationwide.

It had been shown that DDT was concentrating in top-of-the-food-chain predators like osprey and eagles, and was decimating the population of those birds of prey. Once the use of DDT was halted, osprey and eagles began to recover.

There’s a good chance that when you join us on June 18, you’ll see an osprey soaring over our 2022 Festival, which would have been unlikely if not for the ban against DDT. The campaign that led to that ban marked the birth of environmentalism … and it started right here on Long Island.

That is the ultimate tribute to All Things Native. So be sure to join us for fun activities, good food, and our celebration of Long Island’s Indigenous peoples and native plants and animals. 

We are still welcoming additional vendors for the festival.

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Celebrating a Special 50th Anniversary

Celebrating a Special 50th Anniversary

Celebrating a Special 50th Anniversary

Fifty years ago, on June 14, 1972, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), still in its infancy, issued an order essentially ending the use of the pesticide DDT.

That decision preceded CEED’s founding by about 45 years, but we still feel a special connection to this special anniversary in the history of environmentalism because of Dennis Puleston and other local activists.

Dennis was a naval architect, a naturalist, and a remarkable artist. He was one of the first to point to DDT as the cause of the drastic crash in the number of osprey, eagles, and other birds of prey. He and other locals filed a lawsuit to prevent the use of DDT to kill mosquitoes on Suffolk County’s marshes. Their victory was one of the very first to affirm a right of all to have a clean, safe environment.

With Bellport high school teacher Art Cooley and scientist Charlie Wurster, Puleston helped found the Environmental Defense Fund. After their victory in Suffolk County, they led the way to bans on DDT statewide in New York and then later nationwide.

At CEED, we hope to continue Long Island’s tradition of environmentalism. We’re proud that we are caretakers for one of two Suffolk County preserves named for Dennis Puleston. We’re also grateful for support from Dennis Puleston’s family, and in our newly opened Woodlands Hall, we display several of his gorgeous watercolors.

I hope you’ll come to our Summer Solstice Festival on Saturday, June 18 to share in our commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the DDT Ban that saved our beloved osprey and put environmentalism in the national and worldwide spotlight for the first time. And please visit our new Woodlands Hall to see Dennis’ paintings and pay homage to one of the people who started it all.

Tom Pelletier, Board Chair
Dennis Puleston painting of quail
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