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The Whaling Museum and Education Center’s public event, SOUNDoff!, was held at the museum on April 23, 2017. Funded in part by a grant from Long Island Sound Futures Fund, this second annual event engages people who live and work in the communities surrounding the Sound to foster a new generation of advocates and caretakers. Since 2005, the Futures Fund has provided millions of dollars for hundreds of projects to protect and preserve this critical ecosystem, restoring valuable habitats and treating and cleaning polluted waters.

The event was a strong success, attracting 250 people of all ages and backgrounds. Visitors spent their time going through a rotation of interactive exhibits, tented stations, and activities exploring people’s impacts on the Sound’s health. Families spent hours engaging in hands-on demonstrations offering a wide variety of conservation-themed topics including storm water management, wildlife protection, oil spills, conservation history, and water monitoring.   

People walked away with a sense of personal responsibility and understanding how small changes in our behaviors can contribute to real change in protecting our waters. The youngest of the visitors were fascinated with the enviroscape model of storm water run-off scenario, showing how pet waste and lawn fertilizers end up in our bays, estuaries, and Sound brought by the Cornell Cooperative Extension, as well as the touch tank with hermit crabs, horseshoe crabs, sea stars, sea cucumbers and more brought by The Waterfront Center. Adults learned about pollution prevention with Save the Sound and how to help injured shore birds from Volunteers for Wildlife. Other vendors included the Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon.

Based on our educators’ feedback from last year’s event, we implemented some new initiatives at this year’s event, including a take-home project for children involving planting a seed with peet pots;  creating a  “LI Sound Passport” punchcard that guided them through all the stations, ending in everyone choosing their own pledge to help save the Sound; and reusable tote bags as a “prize” for visiting all the vendors and experiment stations on the Passport that they then decorated with fabric markers.

Visitor feedback was extremely positive and we all look forward to recreating the event next year, with even more conservation partners!

The article was written by Cindy Grimm, assistant director of the Cold Spring Whaling Museum and Education Center. Grimm also took the photographs.



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