An Important Project Defunded
Many of this paper’s readers may recall articles I’ve contributed about the Rye middle-school and high school students participating in the schools’ chapter of the Billion Oyster Project, an effort to revive the shellfish once so plentiful in our local waters. It has been the only Westchester chapter of the Project, based on Governor’s Island, dedicated to repopulating our local estuaries with oysters, which help keep waters clean and protect against storm surge through their reefs.
The Rye chapter has notably included many young women, nurturing their interest in the life sciences. Which is why I think many Rye residents will be shocked and disappointed to know that school officials have decided to de-fund the Billion Oyster Project club, cutting off both the very modest stipend received by their teacher-advisor and the official recognition which the students received for their effort. For those of us who believe both that the project has intrinsic value and that young women should be encouraged to pursue careers in the sciences, this decision is mystifying. A system which has, thanks to the recent bond issue, millions for a football field cannot find spare change for a club to which students have dedicated their time for years, carefully nurturing and measuring the growth of shellfish at the city’s Milton Harbor Boat Basin.
The students are hoping to carry on, with the help of a volunteer teacher/advisor. And the Bird Homestead and Little Garden Club are considering ways they might help. They reflect the great spirit of community that makes Rye a special place. But one still wishes that school officials would revisit their short-sighted decision. Their priorities are misplaced.
- Howard Husock