Stories from people who protect the Peconic Estuary. Meet Peconic Estuary Partnership's dedicated Water Quality Sanitarians, Stormwater Stewardship Volunteers, and Summer Interns who are a valuable part of the PEP!
Click on each person’s name to read their story!
Kathy Governale- Suffolk County Department of Health Services, Bureau of Marine Resources, Sanitarian
SCDHS Sanitarian, Gary Chmurzynski, collecting water quality samples in the Peconic Estuary. Photo courtesy of Kathy Governale.
"As employees of the Suffolk County Department of Health Services (SCDHS), Division of Environmental Quality, Bureau of Marine Resources, we, as Sanitarians are involved in the sampling and monitoring of our local waterways. This includes streams and bays in both the Peconic and South Shore Estuaries. We also have stations in the Long Island Sound and conduct seasonal sampling and inspecting of our permitted bathing beaches. Our program includes monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly and seasonal testing. Special sampling events would include heavy rainfall, consumer complaints, brown and red tide sightings, and fish kills to name a few. Our team samples by boat and also by land depending on the location.
Our sampling parameters include: Nutrients, Total and dissolved, Coliform, Enterococci, and E. coli bacteria, Total Suspended Solids, Chlorophyll-a, Phytoplankton, Aureococcus, and Alexandrium (Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP)).The organics we test for include Carbamate Pesticides, Dactal Metabolites, Volatile Compounds, Chlorinated Pesticides and Micro-extractables,, Semi-volatile Organic Compounds, Herbicide Metabolites and Metals. We also take physical measurements: Temperature, Secchi Depth, Dissolved Oxygen, Salinity, Conductivity, Light attenuation and pH.
To conclude, we sample year round in all kinds of weather. It’s an exciting job and gratifying to be part of an organization involved in the monitoring of our precious natural resources."
Harbor seals sunning themselves on the beach. Photo courtesy of Kathy Governale.
Frank- PEP Stormwater Stewardship Volunteer
"I am retired now, however I grew up near the ocean and always enjoyed being around the water; fishing, digging clams, and raking seaweed from a dory. Always in some excuse of a boat! It was a way of life that we found great pleasure in, no matter the season or the weather. It was always interesting and different.
My wife and I followed the kids to NY and chose Mattituck as our home, to be near the water and also take the opportunity to explore the region. I believe I have 30 inlets marked on my chart of Peconic bay. I want to have a “Mathew Flinders” moment and discover each of them. The North Fork is really unique with its own combination of agriculture, aquaculture and suburban culture. Honestly there is nothing “twin” about the “forks”.
We live in a beautiful area yet it is sad to say that in just over the past 50 years – in one generation – we have seen population growth impact the quality of our coastal waters in an adverse manner. I wanted to get involved in some capacity that would help to protect these resources. Which is why I volunteered with the Peconic Estuary Program. I also volunteer with the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science; which runs a Phytoplankton Monitoring Network. Testing the water quality and sampling the foundation of the food chain can provide valuable early information about our environmental situation and lead to solid scientific solutions.
I’ve been meeting some great people and having a lot of fun in the process. I am very optimistic that we can do a good job so that our grandchildren will have wonderful experiences here on long Island sound and Peconic Bay. I’m thrilled that we moved here and happy to be part of the PEP team."
Beth Young- PEP Stormwater Stewardship Volunteer
"I was raised along the edge of the Peconic Estuary, looking out across its waters nearly every day as a child, watching the brown tide wash away the scallop industry and watching the efforts since to improve the bay's health. As a local journalist, I've tried to tell the story of what can be done to protect the health of the Peconic Estuary, but as a citizen scientist, I feel like I can play a role in adding to the collection of the hard data needed to ensure the bay will still be a beautiful, healthy place for our children."
Nicholas Leone- Horseshoe Crab Monitoring Summer Intern 2017
"My name is Nicholas Leone and I am a Sociology major going into my junior year at SUNY New Paltz. During the day, I am a fieldworker at Robert Moses State Park. As a fieldworker, we pick up pounds upon pounds of garbage every day from beach goers. This made me realize how in danger the ocean truly is, and since then I have completely devoted myself to ocean conservation. Alongside working at Robert Moses, I also volunteer with the Riverhead Foundation as well as on a local organic farm. I simply love the ocean and learning about everything that inhabits it, which brought me to this Horseshoe Crab Monitoring internship! I am so excited to be working with and observing these ancient animals. I mean, how many people can say they are working with animals who's roots go back 450 million years!"
Ashley Longo is a recent college graduate from Hicksville, NY. She earned her Bachelor of Science from Eckerd College majoring in marine biology. Apart from being selected as a Horseshoe Crab Monitoring Intern for the Peconic Estuary Program, she volunteers for the Riverhead Foundation as a rescue team member. She also considers herself to be a huge advocate for shark conservation and fighting for that cause is something she loves to do in her free time. Ashley is looking forward to not only enhancing her fieldwork experience, but also contributing to a decade long study aiming to protect a species vital to our ecosystem.
Mary Bertschi- Horseshore Crab Monitoring Summer Intern 2017
"I am a sophomore at Stony Brook University, double majoring in Marine Vertebrate Biology and Ecosystems and Human Impact. Eventually, I hope to work to help conserve threatened species in the marine environment. Having been a volunteer during high school, I was thrilled to be offered an intern position to help tag horseshoe crabs, and be able to assist in such an important program. Growing up on the East End, I was a frequent visitor to the local beaches, and jumped at the chance to positively contribute to the efforts that will help the local ecosystems. I’m looking forward to an exciting horseshoe crab season!"
Susanna Osinski- Water Quality Monitoring Summer Intern 2017
"I am currently finishing up my freshman year at Cornell University. I am studying biology and planning to concentrate on marine biology. I also am interested in studying business on the subject of agriculture. I am planning to take over my family's oyster farm in a few years and hopefully expand it over time. I have worked on my family's oyster farm my whole life. There are the four of us that run the whole business. I have learned a lot about oystering. It is a lot of work but it has taught me a lot about responsibility and hard work. My whole life is oysters. In addition to that, I don't really like to sit around a desk and work, I'd much rather be outdoors and working by moving around. I chose this internship because it gives me the opportunity to work with marine science and gain some experience. Even though I am interested in marine life, I have yet to have such experience with anything besides oysters. It was conveniently close to home as well."
Mikaela Neary is currently attending Suffolk County Community College. She is planning on getting a degree in environmental science. She became interested in this subject in high school while volunteering for Avalon Park and Preserve’s STATE (Students Taking Action for Tomorrow’s Environment) program. The program did invasive species removal, education, trail clean up, and participated in some civilian science events. Mikaela is excited to be a part of the Terrapin Turtle Internship because she wants more experience in field research and in handling wildlife for this purpose.
"My name is Kaitlin Johnson, and I am a graduate student in the Marine Conservation and Policy program at Stony Brook University. As an undergraduate student I was a biology major at SUNY Cortland. I grew up on Long Island and have always loved the ocean. For that reason, I knew after graduating Cortland I wanted to pursue a career in marine conservation. I have always been really interested in studying turtles, and worked with them previously at Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery and Aquarium. When I heard about the Peconic Estuary program offering an internship about monitoring terrapins I knew that it would be an amazing opportunity. I am beyond excited to conduct research and promote conservation on terrapins this summer. I am extremely interested in performing research, and hope that in the future my career will involve conservation research."
Gabriella Green- Salt Marsh Restoration Summer Intern 2017
"I was born and raised in East Hampton, New York. Currently, I am a senior at SUNY Oswego studying Geology with a concentration in Environmental Earth Science, and am looking forward to graduation this December. My free time I spend training for Tough Mudders, hunting for fossils, clamming, and playing softball. I chose this internship because some of my favorite memories growing up were exploring the salt marshes and the unique ecosystem around us. This internship has provided an opportunity for me to help protect this beautiful area, and reach out to others about what they can do to protect it as well."
Peconic friendly people during the Peconic Estuary Day in the Life event.