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.


Off Trail

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Boat Building Program

Duration: September-June (2019-2020 School Year), 1x/week for 2 hours

There are so many uses for water in our daily lives, including recreational purposes in our oceans and bays. Do you enjoy boating whether it’s canoeing, kayaking, sailing or operating a powerboat? We have the perfect project: building a 14-foot wooden paddleboard!

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). What better afterschool activity than building a paddleboard? 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 paddleboard 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 craftsman or craftswoman!

We are seeking 6 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!

Full Description

Deer Immunocontraception Program

Duration: 4-6 hours/week from May-August

Northern white-tailed deer have been densely populating areas in Stony Brook Village, and continue to face increasing threats. Safely and effectively stabilizing the deer population is not an easy feat, but action needs to be taken. Upon taking this into consideration, a new long-term deer sterilization study has been approved for park staff and volunteers to collaborate on. We need five enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers to set up feeding stations and PIT tag readers, collect data from wildlife camera videos and from reports by the general public, graph the data in order to analyze the long-term trends in this study, as well as to educate the public and spread awareness regarding human-deer conflicts.

If you are interested in wildlife tracking/tagging, enjoy learning about animals, have strong communication skills, want to expand your science research skills through firsthand field experience, and work well in pairs or with a small team, then this opportunity may be for you!

Upon evaluation and feedback at the end of the season, there is the potential to return and participate in this internship for the following year.

Full Description

Shellfish Restoration Project

Duration: 2-4 hours per week in May; 6-8 hours a week from June-August; return to seed the bays in the fall

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 about 70% 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.

We are looking for a team of 10 volunteers to do weekly checks and maintenance on cages, record growth data, monitor water quality data, and to raise the oysters from spat throughout the field season. Seed from spat and cages will be supplied for STATE volunteers.

More Information: We will be meeting at the Stony Brook Yacht Club beach once a week and we will be kayaking (~10-15 mins each way) to the Conscience Bay site from Setauket Harbor once a week. Our schedule will include 3 hours at each site for an estimated 6 hours per week throughout the summer months. **Schedule will be created according to low tide times**

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!

Full Description

Animal Husbandry Opportunity: Rearing Baby Chickens

Avalon Nature Preserve is taking on the responsibility of raising egg layer chickens for a local farm! We are asking for 2-3 volunteers to dedicate their time 1-2x a week to care for the babies. We are seeking students who have a passion for working with animals. No experience necessary!

What do I need to know?

  • Give chickens feed/water, check brooder temperature, interact with them
  • Attend 1-2x a week for ~45 minutes
  • Commit to caring for the chickens for 8 weeks (March-May) until they are ready to move outside to the coop. They will show up at about one day old!
  • Located at the Avalon Office on Harbor Road
  • Parents will ned to drop off/pick up

How do I sign up?

Please email kayla@avalonparkandpreserve.org with the following information:

  • Your name
  • Days of the week and time frames you are available for
  • Your answers to these two questions
    • Do you have any experience in raising chickens? (If not, please state that – it doesn’t mean you are excluded)
    • What do you hope to learn or gain from participating in this experience?

Deadline to apply is February 21st. Kayla will email you the week of February 24th regarding your selection.

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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