The New York summer boating season has begun, and it’s off to a warm, sunny start! The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is excited to announce that we have launched the NYS Parks Boat Stewards Program to help boaters and anglers prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species throughout the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, and Lake Erie. This project is funded by a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
You may encounter Boat Stewards clad in red uniforms at boat launches in the Great Lakes watershed this summer. These friendly Stewards will be approaching boaters and offering to conduct voluntary watercraft inspections, free of charge! If the Steward notices any plant or animal matter attempting to hitch a ride on your boat, he or she will remove it for you and determine whether the species is native or not. Allowing a Steward to quickly inspect your watercraft takes less than 60 seconds and goes a long way in protecting our waters from invasive species that decimate fisheries and choke out boat landings with unwanted vegetation.
If you happen to see these friendly faces at a boat launch this summer, stop by and talk to them! They will be more than happy to provide you with aquatic invasive species information, and you might just even get some free swag!
MEET THE STEWARDS:
My name is Megan Kuczka and I am the boat steward at Oak Orchard State Park West. This fall I will be completing my senior year at SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY. I am majoring in Environmental Science with a focus in Renewable Energy and minors in Writing, GIS/Mapping, and Water Resources. Spending my summers in Wilson, NY on Lake Ontario, I have developed a great interest in the natural world and how humankind is impacting it. Working as a boat steward, I hope to learn more about aquatic invasive species and how to prevent and mitigate the human – caused spread of these nuisance plants and animals. After graduating, I hope to pursue a career that allows me to combine my love of nature and my knowledge on human impacts, to convince humankind to view the environment as a place that needs to be protected.
Hi, my name is Miranda and I’m from Buffalo, NY. I’ve always had a passion for nature and knew environmental science was the path I wanted to take. This past May I received my bachelor’s degree in environmental science with a chemistry minor from the College at Brockport. My four years at Brockport were a great learning experience. I had the opportunity to gain a lot of experience working in an aquaculture lab ran by one of my professors and labs that I was able to take allowed ample opportunities of field work. In the long run I want to study marine biology and do research on marine organisms. I’m very happy I’m able to apply my knowledge and help better the environment with the boat steward position with New York State Parks.
I was born and raised in Brockport NY along the south shore of Lake Ontario where I developed a passion for the Great Lakes watershed. After high school I attended Finger Lakes Community College where I earned Associates degrees in Natural Resource Conservation and Fisheries Technology. After a short stint in the “working world” I decided to go back to school and pursue my Bachelor’s degree in Fisheries and Aquaculture at SUNY Cobleskill. I recently graduated with my degree this past December.
Over the past six years I’ve had the opportunity to work at several different aquaculture facilities including the Powder Mill Park Trout Hatchery in Rochester NY and the SUNY Cobleskill Campus Fish Hatchery. I have always been passionate about the natural world and my interest include just about anything that involves the outdoors including fly fishing, hiking, hunting, birding and camping. In the near future I hope to land a permanent job in the natural resource or aquaculture fields as well as obtain my guiding license to start guiding fly fishing trips here along Lake Ontario.