Avalon’s Nature Initiative provides teens with skills to protect the natural environment and to inspire others to do the same.


Offering diverse connections with local organizations, Nature Initiative coordinates events to bring our teen volunteers together with the environmental community.

If you are eager to create a conservation ethic and to build friendships with like-minded students who are passionate about the outdoors, then Nature Initiative might be the perfect place to fulfill your desire to serve.

Time commitments and participation will vary among our members, but the character traits we are looking for will rarely change. Please be reliable, hard-working, group-oriented, and environmentally-minded.



Shellfish Restoration Project

Returning Summer 2024

**Schedule will be created according to low tide times**

Did you know that one oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day? Slightly less than three quarters of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, and with this at least half of the oxygen we breathe on a daily basis is generated by marine plants and phytoplankton. The point is that our waters are very important, however there are still many areas that have poor water quality and are heavily clogged with pollutants, algal blooms, bacteria, and excess nutrients, which all deplete oxygen. Shellfish are huge contributors to improving water quality and keeping our waters clean.

Stony Brook Yacht Club (SBYC) is continuing its mariculture program for the 2023 season, and is run by the Stony Brook Mariculture Committee (SMC). The SMC, composed of members of the SBYC, has proposed and successfully established a shellfish aquaculture program with the intention of improving water quality, promoting the health of the tidal wetlands, and to reintroduce stocks of cultured species for restoration purposes.

Going into its twelfth year, the mariculture program has designed various methods and techniques to rear shellfish species. Specifically, Eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) and hard shell clams (Mercenaria mercenaria) will be raised and then dispersed into Stony Brook Harbor and adjacent waterways. By rearing oysters and clams we hope to replenish shellfish populations and to create cleaner bays.

We are shifting the focus of the program this year to be on utilizing research techniques such as benthic sampling, quadrat and transect surveys, and assessing more detailed water quality data. We’ll have the opportunity to meet scientists who are experienced in studying shellfish, fiddler crabs and other bottom dwelling invertebrates to learn some of these methods. We are looking for a small team of volunteers to participate in research methods, to do weekly checks and maintenance on cages, record growth data, and to raise the oysters from spat throughout the field season. Seed from spat and cages will be supplied for Nature Initiative volunteers.

We are seeking volunteers who have a love for the ocean and marine ecosystems, who want to learn more about bivalves and their contributions to water quality health, as well as expand their scientific research skills using a hands on field approach. If you enjoy collaborating with a small team and are eager to make a splash in shellfish monitoring, please make sure to apply!

Boat Building Program

NO BOAT BUILDING for 2023; This program will resume in Fall 2024

There are so many uses for water in our daily lives, including recreational purposes in our oceans and bays. If you’d like to go back in time and challenge yourself to a build from scratch, we have the perfect project. We will be assisting on the build of a 25’ Whaleboat model that will go on display in Port Jefferson Village. Specifically, our team will be working on constructing six 16’ oars from spruce lumber.

This whaleboat is based on the design of William A Baker, a naval architect who specialized in the reconstruction of colonial vessels. This type of whaleboat was actually used during the Revolutionary War and was involved in the Culper Spy Ring- no, it was not used for hunting whales! In honor of the bicentennial of this model, LISEC was approached to take on this exciting and tedious project.

Long Island Seaport and Eco Center (LISEC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting an appreciation, awareness, and understanding of maritime history and the marine environment. It supports projects and activities to raise awareness of the area’s nautical history and environment, while educating youth and encouraging the spirit of community involvement.

This program is set up to take place for the duration of the school year, one afternoon or evening per week (lasting for approximately 2 hours). You will have the satisfaction of completing a long term project that is original and unique, working with a team of like-minded volunteers, and seeing the oars from a template on paper to its finished product! This is an opportunity for learning new skills, working hands on, talking to others, and being a boat craftsman or craftswoman!

We are seeking 8 volunteers who have a passion for building, creating, or crafting something new, who want to participate in an activity that goes back to the roots of maritime history, conservation, and environmental stewardship, and who want to learn more about the trade by participating in a STEM project. If you enjoy collaborating with a small team and want to be a part of this experience (even if you don’t have a lot of involvement with boating), please be sure to apply!




Meet Kayla

Being a Long Island native, Kayla gained an interest in science at a young age. Not everyone knows what they want to study “when they grow up”, but Kayla was always intrigued by the ocean and the mysteries unfolding beneath them. After participating in Marine Science camp at a young age and then enrolling in Oceanography and Marine Ecology classes as a junior in high school, Kayla knew she was following her passion.

Kayla received her BS degree in Marine Vertebrate Biology from Stony Brook University in 2012, and her MAT degree in Science Education at Queens College in 2017, paired with a teaching certification in Biology for grades 7-12.

Email Kayla