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NYSG Coastal Community Development Specialist Mary Penney,
left, with the 2013 NYSG Launch Steward crew, standing l to r:
Brittney Rogers, Sophia Oliveira, Megan Pistolese, Heather Dunham;
front row l to r: Nick Spera, Ryan Thompson, Clinton A. Whittaker, Jr.
June 9, 2013 -- The summer steward program coordinated by New York Sea Grant (NYSG) is expanding from Jefferson and Oswego counties to include waterfront sites in Wayne, Madison, Oneida, and Onondaga counties.

In 2013, the NYSG Launch Steward program that informs the public about the Lake Ontario and Oneida Lake and inland rivers environment is focused on offering voluntary watercraft inspection education to motorized and non-motorized boaters at 15 launch sites.

The seven college students hired as the 2013 New York Sea Grant Launch Stewards have been trained and are now covering the eastern Lake Ontario shoreline from Sodus and Port Bays to Henderson, the Oswego River, Little Salmon River, Salmon River, Sandy Creek, Stony Creek, and the Oneida Lake south shore from Bridgeport to Brewerton.

The goal of the inspections and public education programs offered throughout the boating season by the NYSG Launch Stewards is to empower boaters to help slow the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS).

Nick Spera of Brewerton, NY, takes on the role of Chief Steward in 2013. He will assist the six new incoming stewards and expand his own educational outreach focused on public involvement in aquatic invasive species management through such activities as water chestnut pulls. Nick is an Environmental Science and Psychology graduate of Nazareth College.

Four of the stewards are graduates or students of SUNY Oswego. Heather Dunham of Hornell, NY, will be a senior zoology major at SUNY Oswego in the fall. The educational aspect of the Launch Steward program fits her interest in becoming an educator at a zoo.

Brittney Rogers of Mexico, NY, is a 2013 zoology graduate of SUNY Oswego. Her goal is to pursue a career in wildlife rehabilitation and conservation.

Ryan Thompson of Savona, NY, is a SUNY Oswego graduate with a biology degree and an interest in environmental health and biosecurity career opportunities.

Clinton A. Whittaker, Jr. of Manchester, NY, will be a senior biology major at SUNY Oswego in the fall. He is pursuing multidisciplinary interests in the field of ecology.

Sophia Oliveira of New Milford, CT, is a 2013 biology graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology. She plans to continue her education with graduate studies focused on conversation and wildlife biology in the fall.

Megan Pistolese of Watertown, NY, will be a senior environmental science major with Empire State College in the fall. She is interested to participate in public educational efforts to preserve the local waterfront environment. Megan will be blogging for the 2013 Launch Steward program.

New York Sea Grant Coastal Community Development Specialist Mary Penney serves as the Launch Steward Program Coordinator. New York Sea Grant coordinates the Steward Program in cooperation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Parks, the Towns of Sodus, Scriba and Henderson, the City of Oswego, and Onondaga County. Funding is through a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative contract administered by the Finger Lakes-Lake Ontario Watershed Protection Alliance.

For more information, contact Mary Penney at 315-312-3042 or watch www.nyseagrant.org for details on public programs.  The New York Sea Grant Launch Steward Blog will begin in mid-June. New York Sea Grant RSS news feed, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube links are online at www.nyseagrant.org. 

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Watch for An Aquatic Profile of Sodus Bay by New York Sea Grant Launch Steward Sophia Oliveira, posting soon!

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