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Monthly Hamptons Paint Night Gives Back To The Bays

Anastasia Lennon

Marine life and art intersect again on Thursday, April 19 at Cowfish in Hampton Bays. The Brush Strokes for the Bays session returns for its second event in its 2018 series with the painting of seahorses. This marine creature pairs with the Save Our Seahorses Initiative of the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County (CCE), which works towards the conservation, monitoring, and habitat restoration of the species.

Local artist Carolyn Munaco will join experts from CCE's Marine Program and guide participants - both novice and skilled - in this painting activity. All proceeds will go towards CCE's Back to the Bays initiative, which partners individuals, communities, businesses, and stakeholders with the CCE's various projects and initiatives.

Back to the Bays is part of the greater Marine Program of CCE, which was introduced a little over 30 years ago in 1985. The ultimate mission of the marine program is to protect the local waters and provide a clean environment for the local flora and fauna. Back to the Bays' efforts are more specialized to provide opportunities for individuals in the community to volunteer and learn about their environs. It seeks to facilitate greater engagement with community stakeholders via research-based stewardship.

Thursday evening's paint night, Brush Strokes for the Bays, is just one of the fourteen programs and/or projects that the Back to the Bays initiative has established. Others include facility improvement campaigns, horseshoe crab monitoring, and STEAM programming (which imbues the hard-science acronym, STEM, with the equally innovative field, Art.)

Last month, participants painted a clam after learning about the Long Island Shellfish Restoration Project from CCE experts. In addition to learning how to paint a clam, they also learned about CCE's ongoing work to grow and seed over one-hundred million hard clams into the bays over the next two years. Next month, on May 17, the focus will be on puffer fish, which relate to CCE's F.I.S.H. campaign that promotes eating Fresh, Indigenous, Sustainable, and Healthy seafood.

"We're so excited to be working with Cowfish again this year to present these fun and educational events," said Kimberly Barbour, CCE Marine Program's Outreach Manager. "They offer an inspired waterfront location to deliver this programming, and their generosity in hosting us enables funds to be raised to expand upon the work we are doing through our Back to the Bays Initiative."

The primary mission of the CCE's Marine Program is to connect scientists and the community and, together, solve the specific challenges that occur in the local regions. Such projects include water quality protection, habitat improvement, shellfish research, and youth education experiences.

"As a local restaurant that appreciates the town in which we live and our proximity to the beautiful waters that are so much a part of Long Island's DNA, we believe it is so important to give back locally to not only help improve our community, but also its gorgeous waterways," explained Rachel Hersh, founder of Rooted Hospitality Group under which Cowfish is operated.

"Later in the season, we plan to engage our entire team in Cornell's stewardship projects, which are a great way for all of us to come together as a team and learn more about the communities in which we all live. At Cowfish, we have also decided, appropriately enough, to donate a portion of proceeds from our well-loved Oysters Hampton starter right back to Cornell," Hersh added. "We think it's super important to give back, and get back, to the bays - it's work all of us can enjoy together for decades to come."

Tickets for the paint night are $40 and include all instruction, materials, and door prizes. The event goes from 6:30 to 8:30pm.

Cowfish is located at 258 E Montauk Hwy in Hampton Bays. To learn more about the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, please visit ccesuffolk.org.

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