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South Fork Natural History Museum & Nature Center: Educating East Enders On Global Climate Change Impacts And Inspiring Care Of Our Planet

"The panel emphasized clean and renewable energies, including solar and wind power," said SoFo Executive Director, Frank Quevedo. (Photo: Xylia Serafy)

The South Fork Natural History Museum (SoFo) recently hosted its second annual climate change symposium (and benefit) entitled "Working Together Toward Sustainability: Innovations and Expert Recommendations for Positive Change on the East End" which included a panel discussion and cocktail reception with environmental activists and legislators.

Returning for the second year were Peter Boyd, founder of the Time4Good Group and a senior adviser and climate lead for the B Team; Assemblyman Steve Englebright of the 4th District, who is also a member of the museum's board, and Michael Gerrard, the Andrew Sabin professor of Professional Practice at Columbia Law School and Director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. Joined by Nick Martin, AIA, Principal, Martin Architects PC of Sagaponack, NY, specializing in environmentally sound residential, commercial, and pro-bono projects; Lynn Arthur, Chair of the Southampton Town Energy Sustainability sub-committee, Executive Director PeakPower Long Island; and Edwina von Gal, a landscape designer and founder and president of the Perfect Earth Project. Experts on this esteemed panel brought their collective knowledge and insight to bear on the unfortunate, but not hopeless, climate changes that have and will continue to affect the East End. Note: Be sure to see our recent "Here's Whose Here" profile on von Gal at www.hamptons.com.

Founded in 1988, SoFo is "The only state-of-the-art natural history museum on the South Fork of Long Island." The museum opened in 2005, as a "Place for children and adults of all ages to discover, explore, learn, and engage with scientifically accurate galleries, featuring live and recreated natural habitat exhibits, a Marine Touch Tank, terrariums and aquariums featuring local wildlife, a Nature Library, outstanding educational programs on and off-site, and a variety of outdoor nature walks and programs, all of which offer direct observation and hands-on experiences with expert nature educators about the rich natural heritage of the area."

Hamptons.com looked to SoFo Executive Director, Frank Quevedo, to answer a few questions summarizing discussed topics at the Symposium:

What would you consider to be the three most important factors the panel revealed during the symposium?

FQ: The panel emphasized clean and renewable energies, including solar and wind power. They are much more efficient and in the long run, more cost effective. They suggested special offers including discounts for going green like using energy efficient bulbs and free waste screenings that could lower energy costs of not only single houses, but reduce the cost of electricity in the community by decreasing demand. Use of chemicals and sustainable gardening practices was also a main factor in the discussion with emphasis on pollution of waterways and soil.

Given the particularly vulnerable geographic coastal positioning of our communities, and the already existing damage global climate change has created, what would be the highest priority now to be addressed on the East End?

FQ: The southern pine beetle invasion, more severe weather patterns and acid rain have already begun to damage our local environment. We need to combat these forces by including legislation on these issues on a local, state, and global level.

With such a diverse panel, what information does an average citizen and/or homeowner need to recognize immediately that will not only impact us globally, but may very well impact their neighborhoods and homes?

FQ: As suggested by the panel the average homeowner can restrain waste by sealing air ducts, using smart thermostats and even grass roofs that repel heat and insulate structures. Also landscaping can be beautiful using eco-friendly plants and natural fertilizers and pesticides.

With so much information available on global climate change, where would you recommend anyone who wants to know more begin?

FQ: Furthering your knowledge means getting involved. Anyone interested in making a difference please call SoFo or contact town, county or state energy sustainable committees.

It really does take more than a village but any steps in continuing to be both informed and involved will surely benefit us all.

South Fork Natural History Museum is located at 377 Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike in Bridgehampton. For more information call 631-537-9735 or go to sofo.org.

Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.

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