Kayla and the S.T.A.T.E. volunteer group are measuring and weighing diamondback terrapin hatchlings that were from a protected nest. Throughout the summer months, during terrapin nesting season, they help to locate the nests by following the egg laying female, take gps coordinates, dig up the sand to place a protective mesh covering over the eggs, and check the eggs for hatching. Once the eggs hatch they process the babies by taking photographs, clipping a piece of shell for dna sampling, measuring the length of the carapace and plastron, and weighing them. This is followed with releasing the hatchlings back into the marsh.
Alumni Instructor Spotlight: Kayla Kraker
The WaterFront Center was established right at the dawn of the internet age, and as our community has grown larger, so has the ways that we reach new audiences, students, and amazing instructors like Kayla Kraker.
As Kayla was finishing up her Marine Vertebrate Biology degree at Stony Brook University in 2012, she stumbled upon The WaterFront Center in a Google search for marine science-related jobs. Despite growing up in Smithtown and having lived on Long Island almost her entire life, Kayla, “stumbled upon The Waterfront Center and had actually never heard of it before at the time. I was so excited when I learned more!”
“There were so many great parts of working at the Waterfront Center! My favorite was being able to plan fun and creative activities as well as seeing the reactions from students & school groups to what they were learning (especially when they saw the sea cucumber from the touch tank!) Seeing the joy and excitement on their faces made everything that much more rewarding.”
Since leaving The Waterfront Center, Kayla earned her Master's degree in Science Education at Queens College and now is the Program Coordinator at Avalon Park & Preserve for a student volunteer group called, 'Students Taking Action for Tomorrow's Environment' or S.T.A.T.E. for short. Kayla elaborates on her work:
“Our participants are teenagers in grades 8-12 from various Long Island school districts, who have an interest in participating in environmental stewardship and citizen science projects. The purpose of this program is to offer local youth an opportunity to connect with environmental organizations within the community. We are not just limited to the park, but also participate in events and projects with like-minded nonprofit organizations.
Our projects have ranged from planting native gardens, building wood duck houses and bee boxes, trail maintenance, pulling invasive, building ROVs, horseshoe crab and terrapin tagging, and participating in many festivals. Our most recent project was raising oysters and clams at a local yacht club with goals to repopulate shellfish in the harbor and surrounding waterways while also yielding reproductive success.”