A Day in the Life of the Peconic Estuary  |  Peconic Estuary Program photo
At last year’s ‘A Day in the Life of the Peconic Estuary’ | Peconic Estuary Program photo

The North Fork Environmental Council will present its Richard Noncarrow Environmentalist of the Year Award tomorrow evening, July 9, to Brookhaven National Laboratory educator Mel Morris, for his work in inspiring young people to care about the environment.

Mel Morris
Mel Morris

The celebration will be held at the Mattituck Park District’s Veterans Park Community Room at 11280 Peconic Bay Blvd. in Mattituck from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Mr. Morris, a resident of Mattituck, serves as the Manager of Special Projects for the Office of Educational Programs at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

In 2006, his office created a “GREEn Institute,” which stands for Gaining Research Experience in the Environment, to promote teaching, learning and research in environmental issues for students from Kindergarten through graduate school.

Mr. Morris also helped create the “Day in the Life” program, where students with interests in a variety of disciplines from science to art, history and English spend a day documenting quantitative and qualitative information about the state of our waters.

The ‘Day in the Life’ project began in the Carmans and Nissequogue rivers, and was launched in the Peconic Estuary last October.

NFEC President Bill Toedter said he first met Mr. Morris several years ago, when Mr. Morris offered assistance with the NFEC’s plan to build a green roof at the Cutchogue East Elementary School. That program has extended to a school garden that Mr. Morris now helps to oversee.

“What’s impressed me and impressed the board with Mel’s work is he has made, through the programs at BNL, a direct connection between the local and regional communities and the school children,” said Mr. Toedter this week. “What’s even more remarkable and important in the ‘Day in the Life’ programs is that the students involved are not just from the sciences. They are writers. They are artists. They are reporters. They are photographers. That engagement is so very important.”

Mr. Toedter said that kind of multidisciplinary educational link will be crucial to the future of Long Island’s environment.

“Although we look for science-based solutions, we know it’s going to take a full community generations to solve these problems,” he said. “We need to engage young adults and schoolchildren at this point in their lives and show them what’s happening right here. You don’t have to leave Long Island. There are problems that are also opportunities that are right here at home that need your help.”

Advance tickets to tomorrow’s ceremony are $35 a piece or $60 for two and include a glass of wine and appetizers. Tickets purchased at the door will be $40 and $70 respectively. Advance tickets are available online here or by calling the NFEC’s office at 631.298.8880.


Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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