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NYSG’s Award-Winning Educators Announce Latest Endeavors

NYS Marine Educators Web Site Re-launch Set for Early April;
State of the Lake Meeting in May, Lake Ontario Teacher Workshop this Summer


  • Helen Domske, Coastal Education Specialist, NYSG, E: hmd4@cornell.edu; P: 716.645.3610
  • Larissa Graham, Long Island Sound Study Outreach Coordinator, NYSG, E: ljg85@cornell.edu;
    P: 631.632.9216

Stony Brook and Buffalo, NY, March 31, 2010 – Two of New York Sea Grant’s (NYSG) Extension Specialists, Larissa Graham and Helen Domske, were recently awarded for their efforts as educators. Graham – who will help launch a new Web site for the New York State Marine Education Association (NYSMEA) early next month – is the recipient of the 2010 Science Council of New York City (SCONYC) Jerry Resnick Memorial Presidential Award. Domske – who will help coordinate a State of Lake Erie meeting next month and lead a Lake Ontario teacher training workshop in late July – was named “Public Servant of the Year” by the Erie County Federation of Sportmen’s Clubs (ECFSC) group.

"I’ve found working with this group to be rewarding and enjoyable,” says Domske. “The representatives of the Federation are some of the most dedicated stakeholders in New York. They have great knowledge of and concern for the environment and are always interested in expanding their knowledge base with scientific information.  I am proud to have been given this award by anglers who love the Great Lakes as much as I do.”

As NYSG’s Coastal Education Specialist and the Associate Director of the Great Lakes Program, Domske has worked first with retired Assemblyman Dick Smith and current Assemblyman Jack Quinn for many years to coordinate the State of the Lake meetings, bringing in many quality speakers to help the Lake Erie anglers keep up with current events. This year’s State of the Lake meeting, during which Helen will receive her award from ECFSC, will be held on May 6 from 7-9 pm at Armor Fire Hall, 4932 Clark Street in Hamburg, NY.

"The ‘State of the Lake’ is one of the most important programs in the state concerning the continued well being of Lake Erie,” says Assemblyman Quinn. “Each year, it brings a variety of stakeholders, from anglers to biologists, under one roof for up-to-date reports on ecological information, current initiatives, and future plans. This event could never have been or continue to be such a great success without the commitment and effort of New York State Sea Grant and Helen Domske."

“Helen has always brought important Great Lakes fisheries and invasive species issues and concerns to the attention of our representatives and the anglers of Erie County and Western New York,” says Paul Stoos, ECFSC Second Vice-President. Domske’s published work – papers and conference proceedings on Great Lakes botulism, invasive species, and other concerns – is also recognized by the angler group.

“In 2009, Helen was instrumental in helping our Erie County Federation to get a meeting with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation managers to openly discuss the Lake Erie and Niagara River transport of baitfish,” adds Stoos. Baitfish regulations in the Great Lakes tightened in 2007 to help prevent the further spread of Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS), a fish disease affecting yellow perch, muskellunge, round gobies, smallmouth bass and other species.

Under these new regulations, anglers cannot transport uncertified baitfish from the Niagara River to other areas of Lake Erie. This has led them, up to this point unsuccessfully, to find alternatives for emerald shiner, the predominant food and baitfish used to catch yellow perch. In addition, the supply of live certified bait from other areas is rather limited, expensive and, most times, not even available.

This summer, Domske will serve another valued user group, New York State teachers. She will embark on a six-day Lake Ontario workshop from July 25-30 with over a dozen 4th-10th grade teachers and non-formal educators to work with scientists on field studies and explore classroom activities relating to the Great Lakes and ocean sciences. For more on the workshop, a partnership between the Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE) Great Lakes and the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network, go to http://coseegreatlakes.net/events/loew.

Graham, NYSG’s Long Island Sound Study Outreach Coordinator, will be presented with her award at the April 24th SCONYC conference at Stuyvesant High School in New York City. She was nominated for the Resnick award by NYSMEA, a SCONYC-member association she has worked closely with for several years.

"Larissa is a talented and dedicated educator, and NYSMEA is lucky to have her working so hard on our behalf,” says Meghan Marrero, NYSMEA president and Director of Curriculum at U.S. Satellite Laboratory, Inc. “She is most deserving of this award. We are proud to work with her, and of all of the work that she does on behalf of marine education."

Early next month, Graham, other New York Sea Grant staffers and NYSMEA representatives will launch a complete redesign of the association’s Web site. "It's been a pleasure working with NYSMEA, especially on a new look for the Web site,” says Graham. “Once launched, the site will serve as a valuable resource for New York teachers, with lesson plans, field trip destinations, job opportunities, and much, much more."

The SCONYC award is named in honor of Jerry Resnick, a teacher, science chairperson and principal who was at the forefront of Science education in New York City and New York State for over 25 years.

 “It is especially appropriate that Larissa receive this award as she shares Jerry's love of nature and the marine environment,” says Lou Siegel, NYSMEA member and Science Coordinator for South Shore Estuary Reserve. “Jerry then, and Larissa now, both also share a dedication and competence that inspires others to meet their level of performance.”

NYSMEA, which includes educators from all levels, promotes marine awareness and encourages the growth and exchange of instructional resources within the scientific, commercial, and educational communities. Members include educators from all levels: museum, aquarium, and environmental center staff, research scientists, laboratory technicians and those with interests in SCUBA, fishing, boating, maritime history, folklore, archeology and the arts.

Sea Grant is a nationwide network of 32 university-based programs that work with coastal communities. The National Sea Grant College Program engages this network of the nation’s top universities in conducting scientific research, education, training, and extension projects designed to foster science-based decisions about the use and conservation of our aquatic resources.

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