<The following letter was addressed to the Westchester County Board of Legislators and forwarded to us for publication.>

On behalf of the trustees of the nonprofit Bird Homestead and Meeting House in Rye, I respectfully urge you to reinstate the multiple curator positions at the County nature centers, which were eliminated in the administration’s proposed budget.

The nature centers’ trained professional curators hire, train, and direct teachers for ecological summer camps, which have provided a tremendously important service to generations of the County's children. The curators also teach on-site, hands-on programs throughout the year to students from preschool through college age. These are educational experiences that cannot be duplicated in the classroom.

Some of the recipients of this knowledge have gone on to become naturalists and scientists themselves. All have gained a greater understanding of the natural world. This is key to having a well-informed citizenry, especially as important environmental policy decisions loom ahead for our nation.  In this era of rising sea levels and ferocious hurricanes, environmental education should not be seen as a luxury. It is, in fact, a necessity.

Please do not think of the curators’ salaries as a cost. For a very tiny fraction of the County budget, they are, instead, an investment that will yield important dividends well into the future for our children and our society.

—Anne Stillman, President

Bird Homestead & Rye Meeting House