- The Eastern Long Island Audubon Society
(ELIAS) hosted a lovely 42 Annual Anniversary dinner at the Vineyards in Aquebogue on Wednesday, October 20. Every year the devoted organization holds the dinner that brings together a team of committed wildlife specialists, observers and activists from across the East End to enjoy a delectable feast.
Eileen Schwinn is honored to be on board as the fifth year president of the ELIAS.
The Vineyards, a catering company located on the North Fork, was a stylish setting for such a meaningful gathering. Orchids of ivory and violet graced the tops of tables draped with white linens as servers offered guests delicious entrees, including salmon, prime rib, and pasta. By the end of the evening, servers topped the feast off with irresistible slices of cheesecake that quenched every participant's taste palette. As guests mingled and ate, this year's featured guest speaker and Outreach educator, Susan Krause
from the Sweetbriar Nature Center took the floor.
Krause expressed her concerns for species on the East End that are slowly becoming extinct as she unveiled a handful of two and four legged friends rescued by the center - a non-profit corporation that works to educate students on Long Island about the importance of preserving wildlife as well as engaging in rescues that bring animals to 54 acres of green that they can call home on the Nissequogue River.
As she spoke, Krause brought Birds of Prey and Threatened Species out of their crates for participants to observe in the dining room, including a beautiful Barred Owl, a Red-tailed Hawk, a multicolored species of turtle known as the Diamond-backed Terrapin and a Peregrine Falcon. Some of them were injured, suffered emotional trauma or physical disabilities and one of the birds had been smuggled into the United States in a guitar from Mexico. With such diverse backgrounds each animal showed compassion and love for Krauss who kept them relaxed, perched them on her hand and talked to them as if they were people. Towards the end of her speech, she carried a white possum in her arms, eventually letting him trot across the dining room. Before bidding the crowd farewell, he made sure to nibble on a healthy treat that a guest shared off of her dinner plate. The animals added a warm and friendly touch to the dinner and the participants seemed overjoyed to be in the presence of such unique and beautiful species.
Krause cradles a possum as she brings the animal across the dining room for all to see.
Prior to the wildlife showcase, past president, Alfred Scherzer
presented Eileen Schwinn
with the 2010 Osprey Award. Schwinn has been the president of ELIAS for five years and she accepted the award with grace and honor. Her hard work as a member of the organization and her tireless efforts over the years preserving nature across the East End makes her the perfect candidate for such an honorable award.
"This is one of the best things that has happened to me personally with friendships and just getting out into nature and really realizing what a beautiful place we live in," she exclaimed. "Nature is all around us and our love for it makes us who we are. Every year we do this. Everyone in here has been involved on a field trip, has been involved in a Christmas and summer species count, has come to our meetings and has read our newsletters and this is the one time of the year we all get together," Schwinn remarked.
Over the years, the ELIAS has appreciated the rare and unique wildlife that builds a niche for itself on the Island. There's more to being a member of the organization than just being a 'birder,' (a person who admires and appreciates birds to the point of continuously being fascinated by the beauty of the species every day). It's about protecting nature in local communities across the East End and spreading the word. Through free field trips, hands-on nature groups for children, environmental education programs and much more the ELIAS is getting the message across for the greater public to acknowledge.
The rich, fertile habitat on Long Island is stunning in its own way and the society can make a difference. Whether it's small or large, raising awareness in local communities will help maintain biodiversity and preserve the lovely home we all share.
For more information go to www.easternlongislandaudubonsociety.org
Bev Prentice, Susan and Jim Benson, Dianna Taggart, Chris McCormick, Linda Sullivan, Carol Coakley and Jody Levin were delighted to be a part of the annual dinner. (Brittany Buckley)