Reflections from a Long Island Water Education Teacher

Since 2014, the North Shore Land Alliance has been visiting my West Side School sixth-grade science classes in Laurel Hollow to teach about the effects of pollution on Long Island’s aquifer. I have been teaching for over 30 years, and this workshop/field trip is by far my favorite! Two classroom workshops are held by Karen Mossey from the Long Island Water Education Program, in preparation for the field trip to the Shore Road Sanctuary. Through hands-on inquiry, Ms. Mossey engages the students to think about the amount of drinking water that is on Earth, which leads them to question about our drinking water here on Long Island. Ms. Mossey brings in supplies so the students can build their own aquifers, which allows them to visualize the different layers of Long Island’s Magothy aquifer. The kids are always amazed to discover that we rely on water that comes from an aquifer and how important it is to keep it clean.

The hands-on field trip to the Land Alliance’s preserve in Cold Spring Harbor connects what the kids learned during Ms. Mossey’s classroom visits and their own world. My students are always delighted to discover the grassland, shoreline and life buried in the sand and under the rocks, while testing water quality and soil permeability. Every year one of the highlights is discovering the abundance of the Asian Shore Crab species, first found on the North American Atlantic coast in 1988, and the impact invasive species have on our ecosystems. The students love to find mussels, (especially after learning that just one consumes four gallons of water every day), and blue-blooded horseshoe crabs that have been inhabiting our shorelines for over 450 million years. Volunteer educators explain that each day, litter finds its way to our shores. This program has truly impacted my students over the years – they leave the experience always wanting to educate others.

Since its inception, the LIWEP has reached 7,708 students in 25 schools in 14 school districts from north to south. This impact would not have been possible without dedicated funding from the Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation, the Merrilyn Foundation, the Rauch Foundation and the Weyerhaeuser Family Foundation.