By County Executive Ed Day
Here in Rockland County natural beauty surrounds us – flowers and trees, streams and rivers, mountains and valleys and so much more. This week I had the pleasure of presenting the 21st annual Rockland County Outstanding Environmental Volunteer Award.
The County Executive’s Outstanding Environmental Volunteer Award recognizes exceptional volunteers who care for our parks, champion our watershed programs, encourage recycling and work every day to enhance the natural beauty of our county’s open spaces.
But our natural environment doesn’t always stay pristine by itself. It needs our help. Thankfully Rockland has a powerful advocate looking out for it; Laurie Seeman. For nearly two decades Laurie has been advocating for Rockland’s environment and educating our youth about how they can help.
In 2002 Laurie founded the not-for-profit Strawtown Studio. Creating place-based art and science programming that serves as a new model in environmental learning and stewardship for youth and families. She has found an innovative way to bring children, community, nature and art together. Strawtown’s Nature-Connected teaching method is a sensory approach to learning which helps students develop a love for nature and see themselves as a part of it.
Inspired by her work outdoors with children, in 2007, Laurie began to directly advocate for the environment, becoming a water advocate on the Rockland Water Coalition and opposing the proposed desalination plant at Haverstraw Bay on the Hudson River. Her tireless work succeeded in the halt of the desalination plant and awarded the Rockland Water Coalition the 2015 EPA Environmental Champion Award.
In 2010 Laurie founded the Sparkill Creek Watershed Alliance, a community action group committed to promoting environmental awareness, partnerships and practices that restore and preserve the health of the Sparkill Creek from its headwaters on Clausland Mountain to its confluence with the Hudson River in the Piermont Marsh.
One of the many reasons Laurie is being honored today is something mentioned often in her nomination letters. Laurie has the ability to sustain the momentum of volunteer groups; she is able to connect with people on a personal level and inspire them to help.
Laurie is a true advocate, one who believes in a top to bottom approach; cooperating and finding common ground with anyone interested in our environment. In addition to all her advocacy efforts, I want to thank her for developing and nurturing the next generation of environmental advocates in Rockland. Preserving our beautiful county for future generations is something my administration takes very seriously.
For all of her efforts, we named Laurie Seeman the 2018 Rockland County Outstanding Environmental Volunteer. A pink dogwood tree was planted in Kennedy Dells County Park in her honor.