2019 Small Grants Projects


A “Sound” Long Island Sound Education and Field Studies Program for Urban Communities

Recipient: Friends of Outer Island
LISFF Funds: $5,000
Matching Funds:: $3,885.63
Project Area: Outer Island Unit, Stewart B. McKinney, US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Refuge, Branford and New Haven

Project Description: Deliver a ten event experiential education series to immerse 385 students, teachers, families, and the public primarily from urban New Haven about environmental challenges faced by Long Island Sound in the footprint of a US Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuge island unit offshore of Branford, Connecticut. The project will foster knowledge about Long Island Sound water quality, sustainability and coastal resilience among urban audiences.

Abstract: Friends of Outer Island, Inc. will provide a combination of environmental education including teacher workshops, student field trips, and a family day for low-income urban audiences from New Haven, and adult lectures and field exploration focused on Long Island Sound.  School and family budgets prevent people from participating in off-site environmental education leading to lower awareness about the Sound especially in urban areas with less access to natural areas.  This project will cover costs for urban low-income schools and families to participate in events held offshore at Outer Island, Stewart B. McKinney, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Refuge, Branford, Connecticut.  Project activities: 1) One workshop for up to eight teachers about habitats and birds of the Sound in the context of coastal resilience as the basis for five field trips for 150 students; 2) Deliver a family day for up to 40 children and parents.  Fun activities include marine education coupled with observing tide pools, beach and water habitats, counting birds, and butterflies, and seining for fish, algae, and shrimp with a goal of building an understanding about how to help maintain the natural environment and wildlife of the Sound; and 3) Conduct two lectures and one field investigation for up to 250 adults about pollution problems of the Sound including microplastics, microplastics impacts on fish, and citizen science water quality monitoring at the Outer Island Marine Laboratory.

Long Island Sound – Stewards in Training

Recipient: Sea Research Foundation
LISFF Funds: $9,654.92
Matching Funds: $8,935.69
Project Area: Groton, New London, New Haven, and Norwich, as well as visits for programming in Stonington and Groton

Project Description: Provide 16 educational programs for middle and high school students and their teachers to expose them to Long Island Sound and STEM career resources, engaging them in hands-on science activities and mentorship from working professionals at Mystic Aquarium, Connecticut. The project will open pathways for youth to achieve a better understanding of their connection with Long Island Sound and to green careers in the watershed.

Abstract: Sea Research Foundation, Inc. will provide school-based, distance learning, field-based experiences, and programming at Mystic Aquarium focused on green careers around Long Island Sound in Mystic, Connecticut.  One strategy to develop resilient and sustainable Long Island Sound communities is to increase exposure to Sound-based career and educational opportunities for middle and high school students.  Project activities: 1) Deliver unique programming about STEM careers, career pathways and information from working professionals to 805 students and 20 teachers grades six-twelve; 2) Six online distance learning programs to allow students to see first-hand what it is like to rehabilitate an injured marine mammal that has stranded along the shores of the Sound and more; 3)  Two school visits by members of the Aquarium’s Research department to discuss their pathway from student to established professional and how their career directly impacts the health of the Sound; 4) Three stewardship field trips to state parks and land trust preserves to engage students in hands-on conservation activities such as a marsh restoration project on the Sound; and 5) Five Aquarium-based visits providing an inside look at Sound-based research and water quality.  This project will help shape the next generation of Long Island Sound stewards.

Analyzing How to Increase Use of Reusable Bags to Reduce Plastic Pollution into the Sound

Recipient: Citizens Campaign Fund for the Environment
LISFF Funds: $10,000.10
Matching Funds: $7,000
Project Area: Fairfield and New Haven Counties

Project Description: Conduct analysis in twelve towns to collect qualitative information about the use of plastic, paper, and reusable bags to determine the most effective ways to promote the use of reusable bags in Fairfield and New Haven County, Connecticut. The project will provide information about how to reduce the use of plastic bags among consumers and businesses to decrease one source of plastic entering Long Island Sound.

Abstract: Citizens Campaign Fund for the Environment, Inc. will consider the most useful methods to encourage public use of reusable bags over plastic or paper bags in Fairfield and New Haven Counties, Connecticut.  Experts estimate that at least 260 different marine species are harmed by plastic pollution in the environment. Replacing plastic bags with paper bags does not eliminate the problem as consumers still discard rather than recycle these bags. This project will analyze ways to incentivize use of reusable bags.  Project activities: 1) Review grocery and retail stores in six towns with local bag ban ordinances including two towns that ban plastic only, two towns that have a tax on use of bags and two towns with no formal policies on plastic bag use; 2) Observe shoppers at twelve retail stores and document visible disposable versus reusable bag use; 3) Conduct outreach about the project using 1,500 educational brochures and social media posts to 7,000+ followers, and two electronic mail alerts to 32,500 people; and 5) Compile qualitative results into a document to be offered to local government making suggestions about how to reduce public use of plastic bags.  This project will provide useful information about concrete ways to reduce a large source of plastic pollution in the land and waters of the Long Island Sound Watershed. 

new york

Sound Effects: A Public Conservation Education Program –II

Recipient: The Whaling Museum Society
LISFF Funds: $9,864.94
Matching Funds:: $5,050
Project Area: Cold Spring Harbor

Project Description: Design and host a public education series for 300 adults, families and elementary school students with hands-on learning and conservation activities in Cold Spring Harbor, New York. The project will foster an appreciation of Long Island Sound among a diverse range of people who will gain a stronger understanding of their impact on and need for stewardship of the Sound.

Abstract: The Whaling Museum Society, Inc. will provide a year-long series of 14 programs focused on Long Island Sound including weekend demonstrations, experiments, and learning experiences, lectures and discussions, and a week-long summer youth marine education camp program in Cold Spring Harbor, New York. Based upon a survey of people in communities surrounding the Sound, 70% of individuals surveyed do not fully appreciate how their actions affect their water quality but are concerned about the environment’s health and future. This project will increase the knowledge of and stewardship by the public in the protection of the Sound, providing people with ideas about actions to take to improve water quality. Project activities: 1) Conduct outreach to generate interest in the programs; and 2) Deliver diverse educational programs including a five-part series for adults called “Conservation Conversations” with facilitators exploring ways citizens can adopt Sound-friendly behaviors and build a deeper relationship with the Sound; a four-part weekend “Ocean Science Sunday” for families with multiple hands-on exploratory learning experiences about Sound conservation; and a one-week marine education camp program “Sound Explorers!” for children encouraging them to play an active role in protecting the Sound; 3) Provide scholarships to low-income applicants to attend the programs; 4) Evaluate program impact with an advisory committee, attendance trends, and visitor interviews and comment cards.

Long Island Sound’s Fresh Pond Festival

Recipient: Salonga Wetland Advocates Network
LISFF Funds: $5,700
Matching Funds: $3,800
Project Area: Fresh Pond, Smithtown Bay, and Long Island Sound, Fort Salonga

Project Description: Conduct a festival and shoreline cleanup in Fort Salonga, New York. The project will increase public awareness of and commitment to restoration and protection of the environment of Long Island Sound.

Abstract: Salonga Wetland Advocates Network, Inc. will conduct a one-day festival and shoreline cleanup in Fort Salonga, New York.  Participants from the 10,000-person hamlet will experience hands-on learning, family fun, and music in a unique, natural setting that includes Fresh Pond and a section of beach along Smithtown Bay and Long Island Sound. The project will inspire and inform participants in different ways to “learn” while they “play” including 1) Learning from local environmental organizations about the health, habitats, and wildlife of the Sound and its watersheds and how these vital resources are affected by the choices that residents make; 2) Spending time on Fresh Pond and on the shore of the Sound, observing plants, fish, birds, turtles, muskrats, butterflies and other wildlife in natural habitats; 3) Attend educational presentations about individual actions people can take to improve water quality in local waterways and the Sound by installing rain gardens and using natural landscaping to reduce pesticides and fertilizers; 4) Join up to 100 community members in a cleanup of 200 lbs. of floatable litter and marine debris on a half-mile stretch of  Sound beachfront; 5) Take-home educational materials that will reinforce what is learned about the Sound.  The project will  raise awareness about the natural resources of waterways that are part of the Long Island Sound coastal watershed and how to take action to protect and restore its health and living resources

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