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GOSR, Hofstra offer coastal sustainability seminars

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Hofstra University and the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery are partnering to provide environmental education to Long Island communities through a certification program.

In a series of free seminars, participants can learn about various topics, ranging from storm preparedness and groundwater to fish spawning and marine life. The purpose is to inform local leaders about the forces shaping the environment, leading to better decision-making.

GOSR and Hofstra officials created the educational series with the state’s Living with the Bay project in mind. Living with the Bay aims to improve storm resiliency and flooding conditions around Mill River. Leaders in municipalities near Mill River, such as the villages of East Rockaway and Rockville Centre and the Town of Hempstead, are strongly encouraged to attend. However, anyone can participate.

“The idea was to develop a curriculum that would provide scientific information and research to [help with] solutions,” said Annetta Vitale, program manager and Hofstra professor. “People working in those areas will have additional knowledge they need to better do their jobs.”

The program just kicked off its second year of seminars with a session called “Climate Change and Long Island,” led by E. Christa Farmer, a professor in Hofstra University’s Department of Geology, Environment and Sustainability.

Ten attended the session on Feb. 14 — the classes average about 20 participants, depending on the topic, Vitale said. This presentation covered the science behind climate change and its local impacts.

“I want people to know the impact here on Long Island,” Farmer said. “People talk about global impacts a lot, but the local is important so we can think about mitigating those impacts.”

For some participants, like Tim Messner, deputy commissioner of the Nassau County Parks Department, this was their first time attending a Hofstra/GOSR seminar. “We work directly with the preserves and waterways, so this is good information,” Messner said. “I look forward to coming in to classes over the next year and seeing what we can incorporate.”

Others had attended a few in the program’s first year in 2019 and looked to finish up their certification. The program spans three years, and this is its second year. Participants must complete six sessions for a Certification in Environmental Sustainability and nine sessions for an Advanced Certificate.

Farmer structured the three-hour lesson into three sections, trying not so much to lecture but to open a discussion. Participants sat around a large table and offered their own knowledge throughout.

“The goal is to have room for people to interact with each other, [with] breaks and time for discussion and questions,” Farmer noted.

There will be a different Hofstra professor leading each For more information, contact Annetta Vitale and include “GOSR/Hofstra” in the subject: annetta.centrellavitale@hofstra.edu or call (516) 463-5565.