Friends of Wertheim

National Wildlife Refuge



The Friends of Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge (FOW) is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to the enduring protection, management and appreciation of Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge and its environs. 



Planting the CEED

There’s a grassroots effort to create a new nature center in Brookhaven at the Washington Lodge property on South Country Road in Brookhaven hamlet called the Center for Environmental Education and Discovery (CEED).  An initiative of the Art & Nature Group (ANG), CEED is a community-based center providing a collaborative program site with shared resources among its members, augmenting ANG’s ability to fulfill its mission to promote lifelong learning in, for and about the outdoors.

CEED had its genesis in the nonprofit ANG which was founded in 2013 by Eric Powers as a way to bring environmental art and nature to students at their schools.  An offshoot of his mobile nature education business Your Connection 2 Nature, ANG’s Art & Nature Festivals include engaging art stations with hands-on creations to take home, interactive music and dance performances, live multimedia art demonstrations, live animals, wildlife artifacts, and natural history specimens.  However, the lack of a home base for the growing group of artists, musicians, and performers became an issue.  Powers and wilderness skills instructor Rebecca Muellers from Primitive Pursuits scouted for sites and found the Washington Lodge. 

Connections to Local History

The site is a nearly 10-acre property with a 7,300 square foot, 100+ year old home steeped in local history jointly owned by the Town of Brookhaven and Suffolk County.  The house was built by the man credited with inventing a commercial process for making instant coffee, George Constant Louis Washington. The property was then a restaurant/hotel/boarding house, a summer camp, the location of the Bay Community School, and finally a summer retreat for the Marist Brothers.  It was purchased by the town and county with the assistance of the Post-Morrow Foundation, which subsequently donated its portion to the town for use as a nature center.  There are acres of additional preserved open spaces adjacent to the property, and across the street is a 40-acre county nature preserve.  CEED took control of the property in June 2017 at a Passing the Key ceremony celebrating its license agreement with the town.

Plans for the Future

CEED intends to renovate the lodge to become an education resource for the whole community, with space for local environmental nonprofits to collaborate and housing the Dennis Puleston Environmental Education Library (Puleston was a local naturalist, artist, and political activist).  There are also designs for a teaching kitchen and overnight nature retreat rooms.  As part of the renovations, the center will showcase green technologies, from alternative wastewater systems to solar energy.  CEED also envisions several miles of trails through the property, including an accessible trail, as well as the restoration of gardens and a pond at the location of the old in-ground pool.  There are plans to lead public nature programs, environmental art classes, wilderness survival programs, wildlife conservation projects, cooking with native plants demonstrations, and much more. Plus, a variety of live animal ambassadors will reside on site for wildlife education programs. 

CEED has already held several well-attended events on the property marking the change of seasons on the equinoxes and solstices, with nature arts and crafts, musical performances, storytelling and poetry readings, and earth science demonstrations.  As the funds are raised for renovation, services at the center are coming back on line: water and electricity are already up and running!

Like CEED on Facebook or visit to make a donation.

Passing the Key Ceremony, June 1, 2017. 



Reaching Into Cities Will Help Kids, Wildlife

By Dan Ashe - Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex consists of 10 refuges of which Wertheim NWR is the Headquarters. Many of the Long Island Refuges are considered Urban Refuges, which is why we feel it is important to share this article with you our members.


I was at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act in September. I know for most, New Jersey isn’t the first state that comes to mind when wilderness is discussed.  But Great Swamp, 26 miles as the crow flies from Times Square, was the first Department of the Interior designated wilderness. Today, you can hike eight miles of trails across 3,660 acres of wilderness and experience nature in solitude.


Places like Great Swamp Refuge are more than just escapes from the modern world. From John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum near Philadelphia to Bayou Sauvage Refuge in New Orleans, urban refuges are a key part of our conservation strategy: working with partners to engage urban populations in building an inclusive conservation movement.


More than 80 percent of Americans live in urban environments – a shift that has profound implications for the health and well-being of millions of people, especially youth. We’re learning that kids who spend more time in nature are physically healthier, cognitively more advanced and suffer fewer emotional problems.  Today’s children soon will be our nation’s elected officials, business leaders, parents, activists and public servants. What happens when a generation disconnected from the outdoors is in charge of taking care of nature? We must bridge the growing divide between young people and nature.


We can do that by helping kids make personal connections to the outdoors, especially through nature-based recreation and education and, yes, through better use of technology and social media. Childhood memories and experiences shape the values and priorities we apply as citizens and leaders.  We’re looking to use our Urban Wildlife Refuge Program to engage new audiences in metropolitan areas across the country. And we must use technology to keep them engaged.


We are building our newest urban refuge – Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge in Albuquerque, NM – from the ground up. In August, Secretary Jewell announced the acquisition of the remaining acreage needed to complete the 570-acre refuge, which gives us an unparalleled opportunity to help families engage nature firsthand.


In urban areas where we don’t have a land base, we’ve created 14 Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnerships to bring us together with community leaders, educators and conservationists. We are working to change how people perceive the outdoors by helping them connect with nature in a fun and culturally relevant way.  By building community support and rethinking where and how we reach families and youth, we can enrich and transform lives. We can nurture the next generation of citizen-conservationists.

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