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Veterans Become Citizen Scientists in Oyster Bay's National Wildlife Refuge

Updated: Jun 18

"When you spend six years blowing stuff up and doing drills - unless you have a really clear plan - it's hard to pivot once you get back to civilian life...


[being on the water]...It's extremely relaxing, it takes your mind off everything"

Highlighted Images Taken From The Birding Expedition

US Army Mortarman Veteran Tyreese

I sat down with Tyreese today and had an interesting conversation. Tyreese grew up in Coney Island, where he used to fish off piers, or wade into waist deep water before casting his line. For him, the water has a special place in his heart and has always been a place where he can go to be at peace. Tyreese is a part of the Samaritan Daytop Village program and is in the process of finding housing.

Tyreese spent six years in the Army, and says that civilian life can be challenging. Several of his friends shared that experience, and some have ended up in jail. When I asked why, Tyreese said "because they have no purpose, they hang out in spots they're not supposed to be and they end up in jail" he proceeded to knock on wood as he shared that he's been lucky, "and thank god, I could have been in a whole lot more trouble."

Since joining the Samaritan Daytop Village Program, Tyreese has found his purpose and adopted a positive attitude. He shares that "purpose, intent, and where your moral scale lands" are all important for living a good life after transitioning out of the military.

For most of the birding expedition Tyreese sat alone, observing and identifying the different bird species we encountered. Tyreese had never been on a boat like Easy Street (a Stirling Harbor Foundation Boat) before. Outfitted with a bathroom, bedroom, and galley, Easy Street is a great boat to bird, or do anything else with!

Despite spending most of the birding expedition alone, Tyreese was happy. To have something meaningful to do as a team can be just what somebody needs to feel good about themselves again. Watching our six, Tyreese was able to catch birds that we didn't see from the bow (front) of the boat. In this way, Tyreese had our backs, and the backs of environmentalist groups looking to protect and monitor our birds.

We wish Tyreese the best of luck, and look forward to bringing him out to the water again! Since we spoke at length about sailing, it will be exciting to "show him the ropes" next time on a sailboat.

To all veterans, welcome home!

Veterans Become Citizen Scientists!

Veterans Counting Bird Species and Populations to Add to a National Database as Citizen Scientists

With the support of the Stirling Harbor Foundation, and guidance from the CI Bird Sanctuary, we set out to observe and count bird species and populations in the Oyster Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Contributing to a global citizen scientist database called eBird, our outing was part of a broader mission of the CI Bird Sanctuary.

Beyond the joy of birdwatching, cataloguing species and their populations helps policymakers and environmental groups have a better understanding of the health of bird species, many of which play key roles in their ecosystems. Thus, our veterans participated in the maintenance of the broader ecosystem by becoming citizen scientists!

To see the data collected by CIBS use this link.

Becoming citizen scientists is not as complicated as it may seem. Under the guidance of CIBS we diligently scanned our surroundings with our purpose of reporting the health of the avian populations as we encountered them.

It is one thing to go out for a day on the water, it is another thing to be on the water with a mission, and to contribute to a national organization in the process. For a sense of purpose, and for the sake of mental health, being a part of something larger than yourself is a proven way to feel better, and to feel you belong.

Sean Duclay, Emmi Triplett, and Veterans from the Samaritan Daytop Village on a boat
Veterans and Crew

Boats and Birds Program

Last year SailAhead and the CI Bird Sanctuary's Boats and Birds program was initiated to add a new perspective to the water.

The expertise of the Sanctuary's director, Emmi Triplett, allows us to learn new things about the birds that inhabit our area.

Together, CIBS and SailAhead have a mission to bring veterans birding and to continue offering purpose by inviting veterans as citizen scientists to monitor the health of our local birds.

Through CIBS, there will also be opportunities for volunteers to create habitats for bird species that need help making a comeback. Read about CIBS' habitat restoration projects here: The Purple Martin Project

CI Bird Sanctuary Director Emmi Triplett Teaching us how to Identify Different Gulls

There are more than 50 species of Gulls world-wide, and three of them can be found in Oyster Bay.

CI Bird Sanctuary and the Stirling Harbor Foundation

About CIBS

The Centre Island Bird Sanctuary, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, is dedicated to educating and engaging individuals through immersive experiences.
Embark on educational birding expeditions aboard historical sailing and motor vessels, participate in citizen science initiatives, and contribute to practical conservation efforts that support avian conservation.
Emmi Triplett with a Great Horned Owl

The Mission At the Stirling Harbor Foundation

The goal here at SHF is simple:  Get people out on the water!    We believe that being part of a crew brings people together in a unique way. Whether it’s a group of teens or adults, whether it’s a powerboat or a sailboat, whether it’s a sunny day or a rainstorm, Stirling Harbor Foundation provides special opportunities for growth.
A Veteran Outing On Arcadia, one of Stirling Harbor's Boats


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