New York Sea Grant (NYSG) supports a host of important research and outreach projects on issues such as shoreline protection, fisheries, aquatic invaders, and water quality. One of these outreach projects includes the NYSG Launch Steward Program which began in 2012. The Launch Stewards spend majority of their time at boat launches conducting watercraft inspections and educating boaters (and families) about aquatic invasive species (AIS) they might be seeing or transporting on their vessels/equipment. During the 2014 inspections, more than 88% of boaters proclaimed that the Launch Stewards increased their awareness of AIS.
In addition to launch site education focusing on teaching boaters how to look for, remove and dispose of aquatic hitchhiking debris and organisms, another main priority of the NYSG Launch Stewards is to attend different events to educate the general public about preventing the spread of AIS. Throughout the summer of 2014, eight NYSG Launch Stewards participated in several outreach events ranging from boat shows and triathlons to statewide events including the Great New York State Fair.
Save our Sodus’ Citizen Self-help Exposition
Launch Stewards participated in the Citizen Self-help Exposition held by Save Our Sodus in the Village of Sodus Point, NY. Stewards staffed the display and spoke with event attendees about AIS-related issues and ways they could actively help prevent the further spread of AIS. At the event, Launch Stewards set up a display booth with program-related literature, specimen preserved in resin and items to be given to those who were interested. Approximately 60 attendees browsed at the booth while more than 20 became familiar with the importance of maintaining a stable ecosystem and the importance of native and invasive species have in the Lake Ontario aquatic system.
The following events were attended by the 2014 Launch Stewards in chronological order.
2nd Annual Oswego Paddle Fest
At the Oswego Paddle Fest, paddlers of all ages and abilities had the opportunity to paddle the locks on Oswego River from Fulton or Minetto to Oswego, depending on the desired distance each paddler wanted to go. The event encouraged a ariety of paddlers to enjoy and appreciate the unique beauty of the historic Oswego River. For those who didn't paddle, a finish line celebration was held at Lock 7, which included food, live music and many booths to check out. Launch Stewards staffed a display races finish line (at Lock 7). Launch Steward Jeremy Galvin educated the festival attendees and paddlers about AIS that are established in the Great Lakes basin and how paddlers can help prevent the spread of AIS by inspecting their paddling and other recreational gear. Any questions that were presented by attendees were answered. Informational literature and other items were also given away. Approximately 40 people spoke with the Launch Steward about the program while many others took time to look at the display and take extra information.
|NYSG Launch Steward, Jeremy Galvin, awaiting paddlers at NYSG’s Launch Steward |
Program display booth at the 2nd annual Oswego Paddle Fest.
Photo By: NYSG Chief Launch Steward, Brittney Rogers
Oswego County Fair
NYSG Chief Launch Steward, Brittney Rogers and Launch Steward, David Newell attended the Oswego County Fair, in the Oswego County tourism and promotion building where they educated the public about AIS. During this event the Launch Stewards answered questions presented by the inquisitive public who were in attendance. Speaking to over 100 people throughout this five day event, the Launch Stewards were capable of increasing public awareness on the havoc AIS can have on our aquatic ecosystems.
|New York Sea Grant’s Launch Steward Program display set up at the Oswego County |
Fairgrounds in the Oswego County Tourism and Promotion building.
Photo By: NYSG Chief Launch Steward, Brittney Rogers
Henderson Harbor Triathlon
NYSG Launch Steward, David Newell conducted an AIS educational program at the Henderson Harbor Boat launch for participants and spectators in attendance during the Henderson Harbor Triathlon. During this event Newell had the opportunity to speak to several large groups of attendees who took numerous educational pamphlets on AIS.
Skaneateles Antique and Classic Boat Show
NYSG Launch Steward, Robert Bucci operated a booth at the annual Skaneateles Antique and Classic Boat Show. During this even Robert was able to educate a wide variety of participants about AIS. Over the course of this three day event, the Launch Steward spoke to more than 200 people, and dispersed educational materials to all who were interested in learning more about how to stop the spread of AIS. The Skaneateles Antique and Classic Boat Show offered spectators the ability to enjoy live bands, as well as view many classic boats, including an amphibious car that looked like a 60’s Chevrolet.
|Amphibious car on Skaneateles Lake during the annual Skaneateles Antique Boat Show. |
Photo By: NYSG Launch Steward, Robert Bucci
Empire Farm Days; Seneca Falls
NYSG Launch Steward, Jeremy Galvin spent three days working a booth at Empire Farm Days in Seneca Falls, NY. Throughout the duration of the event more than 165 people were educated on AIS. The main attraction which drew many of the attendants at this event included AIS specimens (pickled and preserved in resin) which many were unaware plagued our water bodies. Fortunately Galvin’s extensive knowledge on the subject matter helped enlighten those interested in learning more about AIS, and how to prevent their spread by participating in Clean, Drain, Dry boating methods.
USGS R/V Kaho Commissioning Celebration
The Great Lakes Science Center celebrated the newest addition to its large research vessels, the R/V Kaho. The new, 70-foot R/V Kaho enables the USGS Lake Ontario Biological Station scientists to enhance ongoing explorations of Lake Ontario. NYSG Launch Steward Ashleigh Grosso attended this traditional christening and commissioning ceremony held in Oswego, NY. During the event, the Launch Steward spoke with more than 50 people about AIS and the NYSG Launch Steward Program.
|NYSG Display at the USGS R/V Kaho event.|
Photo by 2014 NYSG Launch Steward Ashleigh Grosso.
Magic in Minetto
NYSG Launch Steward, Ashleigh Grosso manned a booth at the annual Magic in Minetto event. A free, fun, family festival that included music, crafts, vendors, and a kayak and canoe race. Approximately 40 people gained knowledge about NYSG and AIS. Many educational resources were handed out to spectators and racers who were interested in learning more information.
|NYSG Launch Steward Ashleigh Grosso at the Magic in Minetto Display.|
Photo By: Richard Drosse
Great Shipwrecks of New York’s Great Lakes exhibit
NYSG in partnership with many other organizations held an exhibit at the New York State Fair. The exhibit which highlighted the shipwrecks of New York’s great lakes was a huge success. During this event, the NYSG Launch Steward Program was able to outreach to nearly 7,200 patrons in attendance at the NYS Fair. During the 10 day event, all eight Launch Stewards were scheduled to attend and educate the public who came in to visit the exhibit. Those who visited the display were able to observe preserved AIS specimens, large AIS/Stop Aquatic Hitchhiker panels and view/collect educational fact sheets. The Launch Stewards helped to increase attendant’s knowledge on which species are present in the Great Lakes, as well as the adverse effects AIS can have on aquatic ecosystems. In addition to this the Launch Stewards were able to hand out educational pamphlets and brochures educating boaters on proper clean drain dry boating methods.
|NYSG's Coastal Education Specialist, Helen Domske educating fair goers about |
AIS at the Launch Steward's display booth.
Photo By: NYSG Chief Launch Steward, Brittney Rogers
The 7,200 patrons that were educated on AIS does not include the total number
of visitors to the Great Shipwrecks of New York's Great Lakes display.
Oswego County Conservation Field Day
NYSG Chief Launch Steward, Brittney Rogers and Launch Steward, Robert Bucci attended the 6th annual Oswego County Conservation Field Day hosted by Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation District. During this day long event many classes from the area bring students to rotate through 6 or more stations where they learn about various environmental/conservation topics. The Launch Stewards educated 145 fifth graders, chaperones and teachers on the Lake Ontario aquatic food web and impacts AIS have on food webs. The interactive Lake Ontario aquatic food web activity is a hands on approach to further educate students about food webs and AIS influences on the aquatic ecosystems. Students, chaperones and educators from many different surrounding schools (i.e., Oswego and Pulaski) attended the event.
|Some of the preserved specimen used during NYSG events to give patrons a better look at different species found in Lake Ontario. Photo By: NYSG Chief Launch Steward, Brittney Rogers|
Jefferson County Environmental Awareness Days
NYSG Chief Launch Steward, Brittney Rogers and Launch Steward, Robert Bucci attended the Jefferson County Environmental Awareness Days held at Fort Drum Natural Resource Management Area. The Launch Stewards educated 330 sixth graders, chaperones and teachers on the Lake Ontario aquatic food web and impacts AIS have on food webs. Students, chaperones and educators from many different surrounding schools (i.e., General Brown, Indian River) attended the event.
Salmon River Fish Hatchery Open House
(National Hunting and Fishing Day)
The Salmon River Fish Hatchery (SRFH) held a one day open house on National Hunting and Fishing Day. NYSG Chief Launch Steward Brittney Rogers and Launch Steward Robert Bucci manned a large display to talk with visitors about AIS and their impacts on the environment. The Launch Stewards handed out fact sheets, brochures, published articles, watch cards and other information about AIS. The booth also contained the laminated, pickled and resin species. The visitors to the booth had a variety of knowledge about AIS, some presented questions they had, and many others learned new information. Many of the visitors had previous experiences with Launch Stewards while boating and fishing in the area. The launch stewards reached more than 275 people during the daylong event.
|NYSG Launch Stewards showing some of the SRFH visitors the Sea lamprey and other preserved specimen while educating them about AIS. Photo By: SLELO field crew member, Sabrina Dreythaler|
Guided Tours at the Salmon River Fish Hatchery
NYSG Chief Launch Steward, Brittney Rogers and Launch Steward, Robert Bucci provided educational information to visitors over the course of the salmon run throughout the month of October at the SRFH. NYSG Launch Stewards assisted New York State Department of Environmental Conservation River Stewards with tours of the SRFH for multiple different groups including college classes/clubs, high schools, middle schools and many more. The Launch Stewards taught the field trip goers about AIS and how they can have a detrimental effect on fishing, the salmon and other species of the river and the Great Lakes. Visitors to the SRFH learned about AIS pathways, and prevention techniques, as well as the history of the SRFH, and the salmon and trout natural history.
NYSG Launch Steward Outreach and Education
The NYSG Launch Stewards attended 13 different events to teach others about AIS. More than 10,200 people were reached by the Launch Steward efforts during these events. The goal of the public education programs and watercraft inspections/launch site education offered throughout the boating season by the NYSG Launch Stewards is to empower boaters and the general public to prevent the spread of AIS. The NYSG Launch Steward Program is the product of valuable partnerships, these partnerships make outreach activities possible.