If you have an interest in tidal marshes, chances are you have come across Ron Rozsa, either in name or in person. Ron is a plant community ecologist who retired from CT DEP's Coastal Area Management Program where he worked for 31 years supervising the Technical Services Section. Ron helped to create the Connecticut Tidal Wetland Restoration Program which restored over 1800 acres of degraded marshes. As you might expect, Ron knew Bill Niering and worked with many other Connecticut College experts including Scott Warren and Glenn Dreyer on various projects related to tidal marsh monitoring and health. GNCE's Jen Pagach has worked with Ron for many years on climate impacts to coastal areas as well as Sentinel Monitoring for climate change in Long Island Sound. longislandsoundstudy.net/research-monitoring/sentinel-monitoring/
We caught up with Ron while hiking Bailey's Ravine or Ayers Gap http://explorect.org/baileys-ravine/, a special site in Eastern Connecticut that Ron remembered from a college geology field trip. Ron has a gift for connecting the past to the present, as well as looking to the future to inform stewardship.
Ron's dedication to the environment started young and is still continuing today. After a marine class field trip on Long Island, Ron and a few of his Bellport High School classmates conceived the idea for an environmental club they named Students for Environmental Quality (SEQ). SEQ launched in the fall of 1970 (same year as the EPA!) with Ron volunteering to be the first chair. The club's first success was the recycling of oil by a local auto dealership instead of discharging the oil into a freshwater lake. SEQ would support the enactment of legislation to protect seals and assist NY DEC is the designation of the Carmen’s River as a Scenic or Recreational River. SEQ is the oldest continuously operating club in the schools history.
Ron continues with the GNCE connection today. He worked with GNCE students now alumns Mary Buchanan '14 and Jessica Wright '15 on his retirement passion, reconstruction the history of vegetation changes at the Barn Island Wildlife Management Area in Stonington, CT. This has led to the discovery of previously unknown impacts from mosquito ditches affecting eight decades of change. In the same period of time the natural marshes have seen virtually no change in the distribution of the plant communities.
Ron's past and continuing projects and contributions are a testament that environmental leadership can have ripple effects that can last beyond our lifetimes.
Jane Dawson is not only the Virginia Eason Weinmann '51 Professor of Government and Environmental Studies but she is notably the current Karla Heurich Harrison '28 Director of the Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment. We caught up with Jane at a local vegan restaurant, as her lifetime love of animals has shaped her food choices and beyond.
Jane grew up in Ohio where around age five the neighborhood boys introduced her to snakes. She started not just owning them but volunteering for the local nature museum so she could interact with reptiles, birds of prey, and many other creatures. She quickly worked her way through the ranks of Junior Explorer, Junior Naturalist, etc. until she was a curator giving full blown tours. In college there was no environmental studies major at that time, so at Bryn Mawr she majored in chemistry and science. At Harvard pursuing her Masters in physical chemistry, she felt disconnected being in the laser lab for three years searching for a hidden energy level that seemed to want to stay hidden. She took time off and started teaching high school chemistry and physics, all the while taking Russian language classes and studying then even visiting the Soviet Union. She decided to make this political hobby her career so she headed back to school at John Hopkins to get her Masters in International Relations and Soviet Studies, then on to Berkley to get her Ph.D. in the same topic. Here she met her now husband Robert Darst, where they both traveled to the Soviet Union and wrote articles together on waste and environmental justice issues surrounding nuclear power. At GNCE, Jane says she teaches and advises students to "wake up" the next generation on why they should care about social, political and environmental issues. She loves learning from Center students and their projects, and the students love the semester end sustainable potlucks she hosts in her home with her beloved cats. Jane went vegetarian over a decade ago, and is frequently biking or kayaking and traveling, even going on an African safari a few summers past. She continues to write and teach on environmental justice and animal welfare and the intersection of us, other species, and the planet, bringing her formative years full circle.
The warm weather and long days have arrived, so time to gear up so you can get out there! First you must decide what type of fishing as gear is specific especially to water type and species. For example, a freshwater pond setup for small panfish is very different than the gear needed for salt water fishing for Stripers (Striped Bass) in choppy Long Island Sound. Luckily many rods and reel setups are versatile with different line and tackle or live bait for species that inhabit similar waters. Maybe it is easier to pick where you want to go and start from there? Check out the CT DEEP fishing website and try the "Something Fishy" site:
The Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment at Connecticut College
a special community of students, faculty and staff that promotes student led and faculty guided interdisciplinary research on environmental issues