On Tuesday, February 26, the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR) teamed up with Hofstra University to hold the first of nine seminars being offered as part of a new Environmental Sustainability Certificate Program in Nassau County.
Developed as part of GOSR’s Living with the Bay Project, the innovative program will enable local government employees, policy makers, educators and other key stakeholders to learn more about the fields of sustainability, environmental science, geology, ecology and suburban studies. The attendees, all hailing from storm-impacted communities in the vicinity of the Mill River, will have the opportunity to gain knowledge and insight about fundamental challenges in— and possible solutions for— a post-Sandy landscape.
“Through our Living with the Bay Project, we aim to pursue a well-rounded approach to resiliency and to institute measures that make our communities stronger on both physical and social levels,” said Living with the Bay Project Manager, Laura Munafo. “As an agency tasked with driving recovery and resiliency in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee— GOSR sees the overwhelming benefits of equipping local governments and other partners with the tools needed for success. This includes the change to educate individuals about the significant cross-sector issues that ultimately must be understood in order to promote the future sustainability of our State.”
The Environmental Sustainability Certificate Program builds on GOSR’s existing partnership with Hofstra University, which last summer made it possible for 18 talented high school students to participate in a prestigious Living with the Bay Summer Fellowship.
Participants of the latest program will earn a badge for each three-hour session they complete and a Certificate in Environmental Sustainability for the obtainment of six badges. Those who attend all nine seminars will be awarded with an Advanced Certificate. All classes will be presented by Hofstra faculty and career professionals in their respective fields.
The topics of the nine sessions being offered are:1) Challenges of the Changing Suburbs and Groundwater/ Surface Water Hydrology of Nassau County; 2) Climate Change and Long Island; 3) Storm Hazards and Preparedness; 4) Long Island Water Quality Policy Issues; 5) Native Plants for Sustainable Suburbs; 6) Natural History and Landscapes of Long Island; 7) Coastal Wetland Ecology and Conservation; 8) Environmental Factors Controlling Hypoxia in Long Island Waters; and 9) Mill River and the History of the Changing Suburbs.
“Western Long Island is a region of remarkably diverse environments supporting a high-density suburban population,” said Dr. Bret Bennington, Professor of Geology at Hofstra University. “It is important for people to understand how these environments function and the services that they provide, so that they understand why different Living with the Bay projects are needed. One of our main objectives in this program is to make these connections. For example, if you understand how groundwater is related to streamflow, then you will understand why installing permeable sidewalks works both to decrease storm runoff and to increase aquifer recharge and improve the health of streams and ponds.”
Executive Dean of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, Lawrence Levy, agreed. "These are not our parents’ suburbs – they are denser, older, often poorer and more polluted – so it's important to understand the historic, demographic, economic and social context of the Rebuild by Design program and the challenges of creating sustainable resiliency in one of America's largest and fastest-changing suburbs," he said. "And that includes social resiliency – creating strong, interconnected economies and, as we are doing in this certificate program, partnering with GOSR to educate the public about the importance of these efforts."
The seminars will run through December of 2019 and are offered to applicants free of charge. New topics will be added in the years 2020 and 2021, with future courses slated to be open to additional pools of applicants.
Living with the Bay is one of two Rebuild by Design (RBD) projects being implemented by GOSR. The project, which proposes a series of resiliency improvements within the Mill River Watershed, was developed as part of the federal competition that was hosted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).