Return to Headlines

Nassau BOCES Naturalist Sharon Kennelty-Cohen studied in Hawai’i for master’s degree


Nassau BOCES naturalist Sharon Kennelty-Cohen traveled to Hawai’i this summer to pursue an Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) master’s degree from Miami University's Project Dragonfly. Kennelty-Cohen studied what it takes to save species in the wild. She engaged with local partners to develop and test site-specific methods of community engagement to sustain ecological and social health.

While in Hawai’i, Kennelty-Cohen learned how to restore local plant communities and rescue species from extinction. Specifically she worked on helping to save the Hawaiian crow and other native forest birds.

“My experience ‘Saving Species’ in the Hakalau Forest National Preserve on Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawai’i directed my appreciation of native plants and animals that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Since we are also an island ecosystem, the comparisons to Hawai’i came easily. The natural threats may be somewhat different, we don't have volcanos and they don't have ice storms, but the fragility of existence is the same,” exclaimed Kennelty-Cohen.

“This program and the experience of studying in the field will help Sharon in her role as a naturalist with Nassau BOCES,” said Carolann James, Program Coordinator, Nassau BOCES Outdoor and Environmental Education.

Kennelty-Cohen, a Long Beach resident, has been a naturalist with the Nassau BOCES Outdoor and Environmental Education program since 1996.  Her years of experience leading and teaching students through outdoor learning will be enhanced by this real-world higher education program.

Project Dragonfly, housed at Miami University, Ohio, promotes inquiry-driven reform through the use of exhibits, education programs and the media. Students have travelled all over the world to study sustainable approaches to human wildlife coexistence. The Advance Inquiry Program offers face-to-face experiential learning and the chance to share ideas with peers and faculty nationwide.

About Outdoor and Environmental Education

Outdoor and Environmental Education experiences take place in a variety of outdoor settings throughout Long Island and New York State. They are closely coordinated with school curriculum, 21st Century Skills, NYS Learning Standards, Next Generation Science Standards and the Dignity for All Students Act. Emphasis is placed on firsthand, multidisciplinary experiences designed to develop sensitivity to the environment and a deeper understanding of curriculum introduced in the classroom.