What’s included in this months bulletin:
- Chesapeake Bay Headwaters Educational Ecosystem Informational Webinar
- Naked Eye Astronomy
- Get Heat Smart!
- MWEEs for Teachers
- GJGNY Energy Study for Small Business and Not-for-Profit
- Invaders from…Earth? An Introduction to Invasive Species
- Heat Smart Office Hours
- Book Recycling Returns!
- Polystyrene Ban on the Way
-Amy and the rest of the OCCA Team
Chesapeake Bay Headwaters Educational Ecosystem Informational Webinar
Tuesday, February 2, 3:30-4:30pm
The Chesapeake Bay Headwaters Educational Ecosystem is a new program launched by OCCA that aims to increase student understanding of local watersheds, ecosystem functions, and issues that impact them. The program will prepare teachers to develop and implement Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) with their students. School administrators are invited to learn about MWEEs, how their students can benefit from them, and how they can support their teachers who are interested in this special webinar. To join, register here.
Naked Eye Astronomy, Winter Edition—Are You Sirius?
Friday, February 12, 7:00pm, Mohican Farm
Join OCCA Vice President, Jim Hill for an evening of naked eye astronomy as we tour the spectacular night sky of February. The winter sky provides a wonderful array of zero and first magnitude stars (the lower the magnitude, the brighter the star!). We will explore constellations including Orion, Gemini and Taurus; the magnificent asterism known as the winter circle; and the open star cluster, the Pleiades. If we’re lucky, we might get a glimpse of the most distant object you can see with the naked eye, Andromeda.
Please note, this program will take place entirely outside, so dress for the weather and bring a chair so that you don’t have to sit on frozen or snowy ground. Binoculars are optional. The program is free, but registration is limited to 30, and all participants are required to use a cloth face covering and observe social distancing guidelines. Register here.
Wednesday, February 10, 7pm, and Wednesday, February 24, 7pm
Have you ever been told, “Heat pumps don’t work here”? Come learn the truth! Join HeatSmart Mohawk Valley Campaign Director, Bennett Sandler as he presents real-world data from heat pumps installed in the region. Learn how cold climate Air Source Heat Pumps and Ground Source Heat Pumps (aka, Geothermal) save you money, add comfort and safety to your home, and keep your energy dollars local. Co-sponosored by Cornell Cooperative Extension Herkimer County. Register for this free webinar here (for February 10) or here (for February 24).
MWEEs for Teachers
Thursday, February 11, 3:30-4:30pm
Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) are an exciting way to teach your students about important science concepts through the context of local environmental issues. Teachers are invited to join us this hour to learn about MWEEs. The program will prepare teachers to develop and implement Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) with their students. School administrators are invited to learn about MWEEs, how their students can benefit from them, and how they can support their teachers who are interested in this special webinar. To join, register here. This program will also be offered on Tuesday, February 23 at 3:30pm, register here.
GJGNY Energy Studies for Small Businesses and Not-for-Profits
Thursday, February 18, 1pm
Learn about low-cost energy audits for businesses with less than 100 employees and not-for-profits of any size from the folks who do the audits. Learn about the process, see what’s in the report, hear about your options for improving your building. Energy audits identify ways to reduce your energy costs while increasing occupant health and safety as well as building durability. Presenter Adam Boese, Professional Engineer and Principal at The Daylight Savings Company has audited thousands of commercial buildings and farms and has more than three decades of experience. Sign up for the free program (pre-registration is required) here.
Invaders from…Earth? An Introduction to Invasive Species
Thursday, February 25, 7pm
National Invasive Species Awareness Week runs from February 22-26, 2021. Join OCCA Program Director, Jeff O’Handley for this overview of invasive species. The program will include the difference between invasive and nuisance species, a review of some common invasives found in our area, and do’s and don’ts for dealing with invasives on our properties. Sign up for this free Zoom program here.
Heat Smart Office Hours
Have questions about clean heating and cooling for your home or business? HeatSmart Mohawk Valley Campaign Director, Bennett Sandler has answers! Every Tuesday and Thursday from noon until 2pm, Bennett will have virtual office hours to address your questions. To schedule your free appointment, Register Here.
Book Recycling Returns!
Our friends at the Otsego County Planning and Solid Waste Department have reported that book recycling bins are back at the Northern and Southern Transfer stations in Cooperstown and Oneonta. The bins are provided by Discover Books. Collected books are either resold, donated to community-based organizations, and, as a last resort, recycled. All types of books are being collected. Note that books can also often be donated to local libraries for book sales as well as to many thrift stores.
Expanded Polystyrene Foam Container and Loose Fill “Ban” On the Way
In just under a year (January 1, 2022) New York State is set to enact a statewide ban on expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam food containers and polystyrene loose fill packaging (I.e., ‘peanuts’). This ban is aimed at protecting people and the environment by reducing litter (EPS foam containers and packaging are amongst the most commonly found types of litter in the world) and preventing consumption of styrene. Styrene, the primary chemical in EPS foam, is listed as a “reasonably anticipated human carcinogen” by the US Department of Health and Human Services and can leech into foods and beverages that people consume.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has set up a page at their website explaining the ban (https://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/120762.html). On January 21, DEC held a webinar to explain the ban. View the recording of that session here: https://youtu.be/wkULVhYijD4.
We recommend that everyone takes some time to read up on the ban and start phasing these products out now. On your next trip to dine out, bring reusable containers with you for any leftovers. When packing up a box to ship, reuse old packing peanuts or, if you don’t have any, consider old newspapers, magazines, or kraft paper.
In Case You Missed It
While we haven’t been able to meet or provide programs the way we prefer to, face-to-face, OCCA has been busy! For web-based programs on Invasive Species, Heat Smart Otsego, and the SEQR process, visit our YouTube Channel. We’ll be adding more content, as well. Subscribe to get notifications of new postings.
OCCA Online Garage Sale Ongoing
If you’re in the midst of spring cleaning and you find yourself with good condition items that you no longer need, why not get them into the hands of someone who could use them? Donate them to the OCCA online garage sale and help support our efforts to protect Otsego County’s environment! Items should have a minimum value of $10. Please send photos and a description and dimension of the item(s) to email@example.com. If you’re looking to buy, visit https://occainfo.org/garage-sale-items/ to see what we currently have!
The staff and board of directors of Otsego County Conservation Association offer our heartfelt condolences to the members of our Otsego County family who have lost loved ones to or suffered from COVID-19. Though our region has been fortunate to see a small number of cases relative to other parts of the world, we take this disease seriously. The safety and health of our staff and all of our program participants is our top priority. Therefore, as we move forward with in-person programs in the coming weeks, we will adhere to current guidelines put forth by New York State. As of this publication, these are:
*Program size will be limited based on current state guidelines, staff included;
*All participants must wear a mask during the program;
*Participants must follow social distancing guidelines at all times; should a program be expected to require close contact among participants, this will be made clear in the program description
*Participants must pre-register in order to attend;
*All participants must provide OCCA with contact information (name, phone number, email) in order to participate.
We apologize for any inconvenience these rules may cause; please understand this is in the interests of protecting all of us. Please note these guidelines will change as the situation here changes. We will post these guidelines at https://occainfo.org and update them regularly. Thank you for respecting each other, and for being part of the OCCA family.