Day 4, Thurs, Feb 25: Know thyself in order to serve

“Know thyself in order to serve” is the Ross School’s motto; it important to prepare our students for meaningful lives, service and leadership in the global community. Service learning and giving back to the community are two big reasons why I believe Field Academy is such a wonderful opportunity for our students.

Our first team of students is helping out by working with Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk Student Build to help build a home for a deserving family in need. We have such a need on Long Island for decent affordable housing so that our young and older families can live and work here. Habitat for Humanity is making a difference one house at a time. We have the opportunity to work with Habitat for six days of our Field Academy course and really make a difference!

Habitat for Humanity Service Build in Bellport, NY

Habitat for Humanity Service Build in Bellport, NY

A second team of students is working to help out the Ross community in our own Spiral Garden with Ross School alum Sylvia Channing ’10. Sylvia was instrumental in getting the Spiral Garden off the ground when she was still a student here at Ross and is still key to its success. She has designed an exciting project for her team of students integrating the history of the spiral in with the garden in a way that has not been done before; it’s going to be very exciting to see it develop!

~ Linda H.

Slideshow below: select first picture!

Days 4 - 5: Habitat for Humanity_First Days

Day 3, Wed, Feb 24: Movie “Ingredients” and SOFO museum

Due to the wet weather, we decided it would be best to cancel our planned trip to explore the Long Pond Greenbelt trail. This was disappointing, but it gave us the chance to discover the film “Ingredients” which is a documentary film looking at the local food movement. This film focuses on the relationship between the chef and the farmer as they work collaboratively together to produce and make better tasting food. They can do this because they are creating a sustainable food system; a system of food that is more flavorful and nutritious because it is less industrialized. “Ingredients” illustrates the movement to bring health back to our communities and create a more sustainable future.

Sustainability and Service Long Island - 1 (1)In the afternoon, we explored the South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center known as SoFo. We enjoyed the natural habitat exhibits and stories told by knowledgeable and friendly staff members. A big hit was the marine touch tank where we could observe and interact with some organisms found in Long Island’s bays, such as crabs. After we explored the museum, we decided to take a short hike around the property. It was misty out, but the rain was holding off. It was good to go out and get some fresh air.

~ Linda H.

Article: Could Global Warming Turn the Sound into Blue Crab Heaven?
Select the first photo to see slideshow!

Day 3: SoFo Museum and Hike

Day 2, Tues, Feb 23: Dune Ecology Program, Marine Museum, Water Quality Testing

Dune Ecology Program: Walking Dunes, Napeague, NY

We left campus at 8:15. We arrived at the Walking Dunes trail after a 20-minute bus drive. This area is made with three dunes that were formed about 100 years ago. Northwest winds for over 100 years or more have been blowing sand from nearby headlands to the shore and formed the walking dunes that we see today. Sand dunes are really important because they act as a natural barrier against storms and waves, so it protects the houses and cottages that are on the island. We were warned not to touch any of the plants because we don’t know if they are poisonous. Our guide Stacy was very helpful and showed us around and introduced the historical background of the area and different plant life. She also explained that the dunes are moving southeast as they are slowly progressing. She also said that the only few trees that we see during the walking dunes is also going to be hidden under the sand. It was very hard for us to walk and climb up the hills. It was pretty windy and cold today so it wasn’t the best condition for the walking dunes, but it still was a very enjoyable and a valuable memory.

~ Annie S.

Walking Dunes, Napeague, NY

Walking Dunes, Napeague, NY

Today we took a very long walk at the very COLD Walking Dunes, where we observed the movement of these giant dunes, and the ecosystem that they support. There are lichen that grow on the sand and trees that support a spider ecosystem, and this is very interesting because all it takes for lichen to grow is air and bacteria (I believe). The Dunes movement is so soft, that the sand actually covers living trees as it moves, and it just so happens that when we were on the large dune, we were walking on top of 80ft high trees!

After waiting forever in the cold at the walking dunes, the bus came to take us to the Marine Museum in Amagansett. We observed the historical whaling equipment used by Long Islanders since the 17th century. They used the blubber of the whale to stay warm and collect oil, which is used to fry donuts and power the oil lamps so we can see. Many cultures, such as the indigenous people of Alaska hunt whales not only for the blubber and oil, but also for their meat. In the museum, there were also illustrations of fish that were observed in the ocean during ventures, as well as paintings of the journeys, which took 3 – 5 years depending on the crew.

In the afternoon, Mark Cappellino, who is a Marine biologist from Cornell Cooperative on the North fork, also accompanied us in our studies. He came to talk to us about water, and the organisms that live in the water. We did a water quality lab, where we tested the nitrate/nitrite levels, ph levels, and copper content of the same water sample. This was interesting because we got to understand the waste and destruction that humans can do to the ocean, because these elements would not otherwise be found in water, or in such large amounts to the point that it hurts the ecosystem.

~ Wyeth M.

Select photo below to see more photos from our day!
Day 2: Walking Dunes and Water Quality Testing

Day 1, Mon, Feb 22: Introduction to Course and Morton Wildlife Refuge

Catherine Murphy Community Outreach Associate

Catherine Murphy
Community Outreach Associate

Today was the first day that the Sustainability and Service on Long Island course has met. In the morning, we had a guest from Habitat for Humanity Suffolk. Her name was Catherine Murphy and she did a presentation on introducing us to how Habitat for Humanity works. The company takes existing housing or builds new houses to help families on Long Island (and other parts of the United States, as well as internationally) own a home for them to live in. This company tries to help Long Island families cannot afford to buy a home because Long Island is an expensive place to live in. She showed us some graphs about the prices of homes on Long Island and why people can’t afford to buy them. At the end of the lecture she showed us a video that Habitat for Humanity made about a family in need of a home called “Nicks On The Wall”. The video shows how the family gets their home with the help of the company. After the end of the lecture, we went to lunch to eat.

~ Gurkan S.

Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge

Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge is a wildlife refuge established December 27, 1954, through a donation by the Morton family and it is located in Suffolk County, New York. It is managed like a park, so it is a suitable place for people to hike in the forest and to look at the view of the sea while taking in fresh air. However, you can neither cycle nor walk your pets due to the protection of the wildlife.

The refuge is composed of diverse habitats such as beach, ponds, marsh, grasslands, and oak forest. Its diverse habitat is significant to Long Island’s wildlife. You can observe diverse types of birds and you may have chance to feed them. It might not be easy to feed the birds, but if you stand still calmly with your seeds in your wide-open hand, the birds will come and get the seeds. This experience will help you to interact with nature and to feel the spirit of wildlife, leading to realize why sustaining the environment is an important thing that could influence you to change your bad habits toward nature.

For example, you can meet Cardinal birds when you hike through the woods. Cardinals are a species that can only be found in North and South America. They choose to inhabit forest edges, woodlands, fields, parks and backyards. In Long Island, one of the adequate places for these circumstances is Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge. Not only cardinals, but also other types of wildlife such as turkeys or woodpeckers are one of the animals that are involved in the food chain and are the preserver of nature. Therefore, we have to sustain the wildlife refuges and change our views to protect the wildlife.

For the remainder of your stay, after hiking in the forest, it would be better not to miss seeing the bay beach. The beach is wide and has benches where you can sit down and relax. The seawater is clean that you can see through the water. You can discover shiny gravels in the sand, so it would be a great chance for observing the gravel. Moreover, don’t forget to look through the telescope. You can see the smooth tide of the ocean, which makes people feel refreshed. Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge is a great area for experiencing and interacting with nature. So those who are interested in it should never forget to visit this place.

~ Tommy C.

Conservation efforts at Morton Wildlife

Resource Management

Select photo below to view more photos of our first day!

Day 1: Habitat for Humanity and Morton Wildlife