Long Island Sound Citizens Summit pairs citizen science and communication

The annual Long Island Sound Citizens Summit brought together scientists, communications experts, officials, and residents from around the Sound region at Stony Brook University on Long Island Friday.

Titled “Citizen Science: Translating Science into Action for Long Island Sound,” the all-day event marked the 25th anniversary of the summit, which is hosted each year by Save the Sound and the Long Island Sound Study, with support from the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission.

“Over the last quarter-century, we’ve seen a growing understanding of the damage humans have done to Long Island Sound and a growing commitment to making it right,” said Curt Johnson, executive director of Save the Sound, a bi-state program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment. “Today we’re celebrating our collective ability to make a difference for the Sound by joining together to monitor its water quality, catch threats to it before they spread, and speak up for its needs.”

“EPA Region II is a strong supporter of citizen science efforts, providing the tools and guidance that our communities need to ensure the data they collect are of high quality,” said Dr. Anahita Williamson, PhD, who directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Region II, Division of Environmental Science and Assessment.  “Our Citizen Science Program welcomes and encourages citizen scientists to help us better understand, protect, and enhance our environment. By involving the community, and providing the tools to collect quality data and assist in its interpretation, we can work together to achieve our important goals.”

“Effective communication and collaborations are essential for sound science and policy. It is wonderful to be involved with a group that brings together communities, scientists, and policy makers to help better understand and protect the beauty of the Long Island Sound,” said Dr. Christine O’Connell, associate director, Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science.

“The Long Island Sound Citizens Summit has always been about connecting people—citizens to elected officials, lobstermen to academics researching  changes, and policy-makers to advocates,” said Nancy Seligson, supervisor, Town of Mamaroneck, and New York Co-Chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee of LISS. “This year, it’s exciting to see scientists connecting with coastal residents who see the Sound every day and who can provide valuable data about its conditions. As a municipal official myself, I know how important it is to have accurate local information to make decisions.”

Presentations at the summit included “25 Years of Progress,” highlighting the history of the Long Island Sound Citizens Summit; an interactive plenary session by Dr. O’Connell, “Distilling Your Message: Putting Yourself Back into Your Science,” “Why Citizen Science is Important” by Dr. Williams “Using Data to Drive Local Water Quality Improvements: The Long Island Sound Report Card.” In the afternoon, attendees participated in breakout sessions about unified water quality monitoring programs and effectively communicating science to the public.