Celebration Highlights

Thank you from the President of the Ashley Schiff Preserve

The eleven posts below summarize the celebration of the 50th year that Ashley Schiff Preserve has remained wild and untouched. An event like this requires the help of so many people, from students to professors, from community members and alums. It’s a testament to all of the people who love open space–and have loved it for the last 50 years–that this forest has remained intact.

Our 50th celebration built new bridges, linking the Art Department to Sustainability Studies, Ecology and Evolution, and the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. We welcome the many ways we have to love the outdoors, the clean air, and the trees.

The Schiff family came from all over the country to help celebrate this milestone. It was my pleasure to meet Philip and Aimie Schiff, and their daughter Adira. Karen Schiff Dines and Rob Dines attended, along with their children, Noah and Arianna . Dorothy Schiff’s nephew, Dr. Russell Schiff and his wife Debbie came. Russell is the son of Ashley’s twin brother.

Our 50th celebration happened in a year where finding local politicians who care deeply about the environment was easy–they surround us. Thank you Senator Gillibrand, Councilwoman Cartright, and Legislator Hahn. Thank you all and also State Assemblyman Steven Englebright for supporting our Preserve and open spaces across Long Island.

The Stony Brook Students of 1969 had a chance to name a building in the name of their beloved professor, Dr. Ashley Schiff. But they did not embrace that idea. Instead, they wanted to give a rarer gift to the students of today–the gift of the forest. On behalf of the Friends of the Ashley Schiff Preserve, I thank those students. I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

When the Stony Brook students of 2069 invite their professors and community to help them celebrate 100 years of Forever Wild, it is my sincerest hope that they do so from a legally protected place that is at least 26 acres. And wouldn’t it be nice if the American chestnut tress used this space to help make their comeback?

With Gratitude,
Sharon Pochron, Ph.D., President, Friends of Ashley Schiff Park Preserve

Sharon Pochron, President, Friends of Ashley Schiff Preserve

Art Professors Nobuho Nagasawa and David Mather brought in the president of the Friends of Ashley Schiff Preserve to their classes to speak about the man who inspired students 50 years ago. The students designed wearable art to honor the forest, the environment, and the wildlands. On October 2nd, students winded around campus, visiting the places where Ashley Schiff worked, and ended at the Ashley Schiff Preserve.

We invited Suffolk County Legislator, Kara Hahn, as our keynote speaker because she has served on the Legislature’s Environment, Planning and Agriculture Committee, has twice served as the majority leader, and has served on the Parks and Recreation Committee. She has spearheaded a movement for cleaner parks, reduced reliance on plastic straws, prevented hydro-fracking wastewater from coming to Suffolk county, banned the sales of products containing microbeads, and has worked to preserve open space, among many other environmental accomplishments. As she addressed our group, we learned that she and her friends often use the trails through the Ashley Schiff Preserve for running. Thank you, Kara, for your Proclamation of support!

Valerie Cartright, Councilwoman, District 1 from the Town of Brookhaven has upgraded and renovated numerous public parks across her communities and spearheaded the opening of a new passive and historic park in her district. We were thrilled when Jennifer Martin represented the Town on Valerie’s behalf to read a proclamation officially making October 4th, Ashley Schiff Preserve Day!

As President of the University’s Environmental Committee, Tom Wilson read a resolution urging the University’s upper administration to keep the forest Forever Wild. The University Senate passed it unanimously on the following Monday. The Friends of Ashely Schiff Preserve thank both the Environmental Committee and the University Senate for their support!

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand received an Environmental Champion Award for her commitment to protecting our environmental and public health, and she supports open spaces. We were thrilled that Magdalonie Campbell, the Eastern New York Regional Director fro Senator Gillibrand sent a letter of greeting. Thank you for your support and for helping us celebrate 50 years of Forever Wild! #KirstenGillibrand #MagdalonieCampbell

Poet David Taylor wrote “Schiff Woods 50th Anniversary Poem: A Variation on an Ode, Oct 4, 2019” to commemorate our 50 years of Forever Wild. He also read it at the party. When he read the lines, “Turn off the cell phone and hide it as deep as possible in your backpack as though you are burying the dead. You are.” the people sitting to my left gave a quiet cheer of affirmation. We’ll be posting the poem in its entirety on the Friends of Ashley Schiff Preserve website soon.

Sue Avery, Secretary of the Friends of Ashley Schiff Preserve, plants an American Chestnut tree to commemorate 50 years of Forever Wild.