Against a backdrop of the sun setting over the 840-acre Charles Wheeler Wildlife Management Area, the Connecticut Audubon Society’s Coastal Center in Milford hosted its annual Return of the Osprey event, Saturday, April 13. The sold-out gathering is the largest yearly fundraising event at the Center. It supports the Center’s work to promote awareness and preservation of Long Island Sound’s ecosystem, and the conservation and environmental education programs and activities offered throughout the year.
After a warm welcome from Connecticut Audubon’s Southwest Regional Director Shari Greenblatt, a highlight of the evening was the recognition of key community contributors to the Center’s efforts. Connecticut Audubon Executive Director Patrick Comins presented the Volunteer Appreciation Award to Carol Dunn who has been actively involved with the organization for 22 years. Dunn serves on the Milford Regional Board, is a docent, and since 1994 has been monitoring 20+ Osprey nests for Connecticut’s DEEP. She is also responsible for the installation and monitoring of monofilament collection bins, including one at the Center. “Carol is one of the biggest supporters and protectors of Osprey, and a truly dedicated citizen scientist,” stated Comins.
The Corporate Recognition Award was presented to Harry Garafalo of Wakefern Food Corp./Shoprite/Garafalo Markets. Wakefern/Shoprite and Harry Garafalo have been supportive of the Center and the Return of the Osprey event for many years. “In addition to ShopRite’s sponsorship of this event, we are grateful to their employees who come every year for a volunteer workday at the Center,” said Comins. “Their commitment to sustainability makes them valuable environmental partners in this community. And their leadership and support inspires many others to share that awareness of, and dedication to, environmental stewardship and conservation.”
Greenblatt also used the occasion to announce the launch of the Adopt-a-Purple Martin Gourd project. Just in time for the 2019 nesting season, for a $50 donation, an individual or family can adopt one of the 70 purple martin gourds at the Coastal Center. Participation in this initiative helps efforts to increase the population of this largest North American swallow. Adopting a gourd allows participants to monitor nesting activity, receive a weekly status report and attend two purple martin education sessions. Anyone interested in learning more about the project can contact the Coastal Center at (203) 878-7440.
In addition to the support of Wakefern/Shoprite/Garafalo Markets, the Coastal Center gratefully recognized the generosity of additional sponsors and contributors who made the evening a success including Subway, Milford Boat Works, The Milford Bank, Edgerton, Inc., Wild Birds Unlimited of Fairfield and those who donated items for the silent auction. Thanks to everyone’s efforts, the proceeds raised by this event will go a long way toward sustaining the Center’s efforts to raise awareness about environmental stewardship and the preservation of nature’s treasured habitats--like this one in Milford that the Osprey have chosen as their summer home.
The Connecticut Audubon Society conserves Connecticut’s environment through science-based education and advocacy focused on the state’s bird populations and habitats. Founded in 1898, Connecticut Audubon manages 20 wildlife sanctuaries around the state, preserves over 3,000 acres of open space in Connecticut and educates more than 100,000 children and adults annually at their seven centers including the Coastal Center at Milford Point. Find more information about The Connecticut Audubon Society’s Coastal Center at: ctaudubon.org/coastal-center-home/.