Announcing The Miriam Brown Community Stewardship Awards

It was just over a year ago that I lost my mom.   She truly was a renaissance woman — cooking, sewing, gardening, restoring wicker antiques, knitting, raising five children.   She was also a scientist, a five time Jeopardy contestant (she lost in Game 5 by $30!), and a Sayville resident for over 50 years.


She went to Barnard on a full scholarship at 16.   Without that, her family could not have afforded to send her to college.  Recently, for my ‘birthday cause’ on Facebook, I asked for the funds to support a couple of internships for Save The Great South Bay, young high school aged citizen-scientists, who would work with their schools and communities to help measure and understand local environmental conditions.   So far, the Facebook campaign has gotten us about halfway to $3000, which would support three interns.

Save The Great South Bay looks for award to be given on an annual basis.   We hope that every community on The South Shore will enlist their own young talent for the cause of protecting and restoring our local environment.

For Sayville, we have two wonderful interns set to work with Maria Brown, their highly esteemed science teacher, and with The Sayville Creek Defender Program (June 13th at 7 PM at Sayville Library) to help us understand what’s in our water and soil and how we can address local pollution.   The one of the two recipients chosen this year is Michael McKillop.  His teacher Sonya Anderson had this to say about him:

Connecting students with their local ecosystems can offer opportunities that instill confidence and generate skills that will help to support their passion and concern for the natural world.  Michael will be a valuable asset to this program while bring a strong foundation of ecological understandings to this position.  Michael’s intelligence, enthusiasm and passion for the environment make him an excellent candidate for this position.

Our second recipient is Harrison Bench, who describes himself as a “climate reality leader and activist.”  He is also a lifeguard.   He will be offering his talents in field work & geospatial analytical work, having participated this past year in the Stony Brook GIS Mapping course, under the supervision of Mrs. (Maria) Brown.   He has participated in Maria’s RISE program over the past three years, which concerned itself with salt marsh geochemical analyses & sea level rise projections.

Maria says of the internships:

The Internships provide a mechanism for our students to gain hands-on practical experience and use the skills they have acquired through the RISE and AP Environmental Science Program for a community-based project.  Opportunities like these give students the confidence to pursue STEM-related careers while being active in their community to promote a healthier environment.  Harrison is a focused and highly intelligent young man who will not only benefit greatly from this experience, but those who have the opportunity to work with him will benefit from his leadership, enthusiasm, love of nature, and drive.

As Frank Piccininni, one of our directors who oversees the intern program states:

I’m excited to work with these exceptional students in honor of Miriam Brown and on behalf of Save the Great South Bay.   It is my expectation that we will contribute greatly to the field and provide much needed data to drive sustainable and conscientious land use decisions.

It would be a fitting honor for my mother if we actively supported the young scientific talent emerging from our schools, so that they in turn could give back to us.