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The Suffolk County Tick Control Advisory Committee Completes A Second Successful Year Of Tick Poster Contest And Educational Efforts

Sydney A. Braat

"Members of the Tick Control Advisory Committee award prizes to the winners of the Second Annual Tick Poster Contest." (Courtesy Photo)

The Suffolk County Tick Control Advisory Committee hosted the winners of Legislator Bridge Fleming's Second Annual Tick Poster Contest on Friday, August 25. The event recognized contest participants for their efforts to educate friends and families on the dangers associated with ticks and appropriate prevention and removal methods. The winners received prizes that were donated by Splish Splash, Brian Kelly of East End Tick and Mosquito Control, 7-11, and Buddha Berry. The poster contest is sponsored each year by Legislator Fleming, Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, and East End Tick and Mosquito Control, in conjunction with the Tick Wise education campaign.

Tick Wise is an educational program highlighting the dangers posed by ticks and prevention methods, sponsored by East End Tick and Mosquito Control, and implemented by April Boitano, an educator for Stony Brook Southampton's Tick-Borne Disease Resource Center, at summer camps throughout the East End. The winning posters were selected based on effectiveness and the accuracy of the messaging on what Boitano calls "the Big Three:" protect yourself, your family, and your pets. Posters were also judged on their originality and visual appeal.

"The incidence of tick-borne illnesses continues to grow on the East End of Long Island, and we must do everything we can to stem that growth because of the devastating effect of the diseases on public health," reflected Legislator Fleming. "While understanding and managing the tick population is a primary concern, education about often simple measures can go a long way toward prevention. I'm grateful to our many knowledgeable partners on the TCAC, and particularly Brian Kelly, April Boitano and the hospital, for getting the word out on prevention measures.  I'm also deeply grateful to the camps that participated, and particularly Camp Soulgrow, and the kids who took the important message so seriously."

"The poster created by the first prize winner of the Second Annual Tick Poster Contest." (Courtesy Photo)

The challenge in today's world is educating the younger generations and helping them understand the severity of the consequences of tick bites. This contest is an effort to make the educational process more fun and appealing to children and young adults. "For the second year, the Regional Tick-Borne Disease Resource Center at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital is pleased to be a supporter of the Tick Wise prevention and awareness program and poster contest for children. Educator April Boitano, MSED, has done an outstanding job reaching thousands of East End kids at schools, libraries, museums, and summer camps with her message of awareness and prevention," said Karen Wulffraat. "Children really respond to her puppet show and hands-on learning exercises, and the poster contest reinforces that message."

Brian Kelly and all who are behind this effort hope to spread more tick safety education programs in other school districts. The more people that understand the dangers of tick bites, the safer our communities will be. "East End Tick & Mosquito Control is proud to be part of the Tick Wise tick safety education program," said Kelly. "The Tick Safety Poster contest was a great success! The kids did an amazing job on their posters and it was evident that they learned the important skills needed to protect themselves from tick bites and what to do if bitten. We look forward to bringing this program to more schools and camps throughout Suffolk County."

There were eight posters selected as winners by campers who all attended summer camps on the East End. The winning participants in the 2017 contest were Sully Matthews, Fisher Forsberg, Audrey Smith, Isabella Espinosa, Tommy Grenci, Kaila Zeh, Julian Costa and Maeve O'Donohue.  Special recognition was given to Camp Soulgrow in Montauk for excellent and enthusiastic participation in the contest.

"I am so incredibly grateful to be a part of this dedicated effort by our local politicians, community members and health care providers to safeguard the health of the children and adults of Suffolk County" said Boitano. "I appreciate the cooperation of our local community leaders who are proactively taking steps to prevent tick borne illnesses by inviting me to be a part of their preparedness curriculum! I am especially grateful to Legislator Fleming for coming up with the idea of a poster contest and to her staff for drumming up support for the prizes. This poster contest provides motivation for the children to commit my lessons to memory through creative expression; the knowledge they illustrate empowers them to be sentinels of their own personal wellness! I always remind the children 'A very wise man named Benjamin Franklin once said 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!' Tick-borne illnesses are nearly 100 percent preventable! Use your eyes to be Tick Wise and check for ticks!"

The TCAC was originally formed in 2014 under the sponsorship of then-Legislator Jay Schneiderman. Once Legislator Fleming came to her position, she re-established the Committee in 2016, adding members like representatives of Stony Brook Southampton Hospital and the New York State Parks Department. It's mission continues to be "to review tick control methods and management options; provide advice to the County's Tick Surveillance and Management Program, and provide input to the annual vector control plans; and assist in public education and the dissemination of information regarding the prevention of tick-borne illnesses."




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