Hofstra University

In 2018, the DMEA began partnering with Hofstra University. Dr. Bret Bennington, Professor of Geology at Hofstra University. A team of volunteer university students collected water samples, tide and weather data, and soil borings. The DMEA’s partnership with Hofstra enables us to better understand the geologic history and degradation over time of the Big Rock Wetland area.

Dr. Bennington and Hofstra students were instrumental in collecting data for the DMEA, including coring soil samples taken from several different points in the marsh that reveal the geological history of the site over hundreds of years. The discovery of a distinct change in the nature of the site in the 1850s tied to the impact of pollution caused by the Industrial revolution was one of the more interesting findings of Dr. Bennington’s students’ work.

Hofstra’s data revealed that the wetland currently receives heavy freshwater infusions along Douglas Road and that this water is tainted with nitrogen that encourages invasive plant growth. The data also showed that the wetland once had a freshwater pond, and that the site started to physically change in the mid-19th century, the result of the forces of the Industrial Revolution. Pollution peaked in the 1970s.

Dr. Bennington presented his team’s findings to the Douglaston community and then went a step further…he shared the data and Hofstra findings with science teachers at MS 67, lectured to magnet science students and attended the MS 67 Science Fair as a volunteer judge. The DMEA was thrilled to see our partners connect and become partners with each other, especially when it involves the next generation of young scientific thinkers and nature lovers.