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School Parties, Holiday Crafts… and ants? (A is for Ants-Part 1)

2014 November 20

By Marcia Anderson

 A is for Ant

A is for Ant

Remember the ant marching song: “…The ants go marching two by two hurrah, hurrah…” The ants are lining up to enter classrooms around the country, eagerly following our children. Why? Why are ants the most common insects found in schools? Ants do not attend class for the math lesson. They could care less about multiplication, dividends or square roots. The dividends they are looking for are the crumbs students have dropped or left in their desks. With the holidays around the corner, many schools celebrate with food and special treats. If ants cannot find food, they will march on to, perhaps the kitchen or other classrooms.

It is important to recognize that most ants can be both beneficial and pests. Most ants are not a serious threat to human health or property, with the exception of carpenter ants (or fire ants in southern states). Ants provide an important ecological cleansing and fertilization service by aerating the soil outdoors and recycling dead animal and vegetable material. Ants also kill numerous pest insects, including fly larvae, termites, fleas, and caterpillars. Ants become pests when they invade school buildings searching for food and water to take back to their nests.

Before taking any action against an invading ant, be sure there is more than one ant present. Just one may have hitchhiked in on food packaging, clothing, or a backpack that had been placed on the ground for a while outside. Multiple worker ants (those without wings) suggest a nearby nest and an entrance hole. Take a few minutes to watch the ants. Where are they going? Where did they come from?

Did you know that there are approximately over a quadrillion ants alive in the world at any one time, or about one million ants for every human on earth? So it is neither desirable nor practical to try to eliminate most ants from their outside habitat.

 Ants feeding.

Ants feeding.

Ant control. Management efforts should aim at keeping them out of structures as part of a smart, sensible, and sustainable approach to pest control called Integrated Pest Management or IPM. Ant control should focus on excluding ants from the building, good sanitation, and building maintenance rather than routine spraying with pesticides, which may not always be effective. Ant management requires continuous effort.

Inspection and Detection. Often it takes detective work and ingenuity to discover where ants are coming from. When you spot large numbers of ants in a trail, try to follow the ants to where they are entering the building. Carry a good flashlight. Take good notes during your inspection and record problem areas, entry locations and areas needing repair. If a nest is found inside, it must be removed. Call your IPM coordinator or a pest management professional for help. To do it yourself, use an industrial vacuum,  and vacuum up some cornstarch to prevent ants from escaping, then seal and destroy the vacuumed material.

Habitat modification: Exclusion. By carefully sealing places where ants enter, you will make a long-term impact on the number of ant invasions. Begin with sealing actual and potential entryways – especially where wires and pipes enter the building, then weather-strip around doors and windows. Always carry a tube of sealant when making inspections and seal as many cracks as time allows, especially those around baseboards, pipes, sinks, toilets, and electrical outlets. Silicone sealant is flexible, easy to apply, and long-lasting. Keep plants and mulch away from the foundation of buildings as they provide ant nesting sites.

For more information on ant control in schools go to: http://www.sites.ext.vt.edu/schoolipm/ipmtechniques/documents/ants.pdf and look for more information in a future blog.

About the Author: Marcia is with EPA’s Center of Expertise for School IPM in Dallas, Texas. She holds a PhD in Environmental Management from Montclair State University along with degrees in Biology, Environmental Design, Landscape Architecture, and Instruction and Curriculum. Marcia was formerly with the EPA Region 2 Pesticides Program and has been a professor of Earth and Environmental Studies, Geology, and Oceanography at several universities.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Rise Higher

2014 November 12

By Meghan La Reau

Scrambling toward the finish line.

Scrambling toward the finish line.

My brother recently started an active outdoor lifestyle company. Its mission is to return fitness back to its outdoor roots and their philosophy is “nothing compares to the authentic challenges provided by Mother Nature.”  It’s much more than just a race, rather it’s an experience from camping to fireside speakers to promoting environmental stewardship.

O2X, the company, has an environmental stewardship plan that pledges to leave each mountain as well or better than when they arrived. Their post-‐race remediation plan is critical, and begins with responsible course design – to not disturb the mountain. The plan also includes leaving no wrappers, water bottles or trash on the course – “pack in, pack out.” O2X  encourages everyone to bring reusable water bottles with plenty of water stations to refill, providing only compostable paper products, and collecting donations of old running shoes to be recycled. As an EPA Waste Wise partner, they are striving for zero waste events. All waste was sorted into compostable and recycled containers. O2X reduced its carbon footprint by providing solar panels to recharge phones, promoting carpooling to the event, and requesting all applications be submitted online to reduce paper use. The company also sources all food and beverages for each event locally.

I had to support my brother in his new endeavor so I registered for a race!

The challenge I signed up for is an off-trail mountain race traversing natural obstacles up a mountain, in this case, Windham Ski Resort in New York. The race was four miles experiencing a

The team pauses for a photo during a water break halfway to the top.

The team pauses for a photo during a water break halfway to the top.

net elevation gain of 1,350 feet. The race at Windham went from Base Camp in front of the Windham Base Lodge, journeying through winding switchbacks crossing first on to East Peak, then on and off trail and through rugged natural terrain. The Finish Line, atop West Peak Summit, overlooks the awesome view of East Peak, Windham Mountain Village, Hudson Valley and the Catskills.

While working and raising three kids, I tried to train as well as I could. Training included road running and running up the stairs at 290 Broadway, EPA’s New York City offices. However, nothing I did prepared me for this adventure. We ran up rock outcrops, crawled through caves of rock, and climbed up nearly vertical ski slopes. All the leaves had fallen and it rained for the previous three days making conditions very slick. Thank goodness for the three water stops! One hour and 31 minutes later, at an elevation of 3,035 feet, we reached the summit! Never had I experienced such a challenging race. Sign me up for the next one!

 

About the Author: Meghan La Reau is an Environmental Scientist in EPA’s RCRA Compliance Branch for the past 16 years conducting enforcement of hazardous waste facilities and solid waste landfills. Meghan enjoys indoor activities such as wine making and outdoor activities such as running, hiking, and attending sporting events. Meghan holds a B.S in Environmental Resource Management from Penn State University and a Masters in Environmental Science from NJIT.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Citizen Science in our Region

2014 November 6

By Patricia Sheridan

EPA Regional Administrator, Judith Enck, kicks off a Citizen Science Workshop.

EPA Regional Administrator, Judith Enck, kicks off a Citizen Science Workshop.

Citizen Science. Two words that worked their way into the EPA Region 2 vernacular in 2009. Highlighted by the massive explosion at the Caribbean Petroleum Corporation (CAPECO) oil storage facility near San Juan, Puerto Rico leading the community downwind to actively conduct air monitoring in their neighborhood; and the grassroots community-led air monitoring effort in Western New York using a bucket brigade to successfully champion an enforcement action to reduce benzene emissions at the Tonawanda Coke Corporation, citizen science found a home. Citizen Science became one of the Regional Administrator’s top priorities in 2010 to help engage and empower communities to collect their own data and advocate for their own health concerns.

Shortly after, the EPA established a regional Citizen Science Workgroup to drive this effort. Informational interviews were conducted with community groups, environmental justice groups, non-governmental organizations and academia to identify community needs and concerns setting the stage for the inaugural EPA Citizen Science Workshops held in the New York City and New Jersey regional offices in June 2012.

Feedback from the workshops focused on two areas: having citizen science data taken seriously while providing tools to do so, and funding opportunities. The region hosted an EPA MyEnvironment (GIS-based tool) webinar in early March 2013. This was followed by a quality assurance training seminar series on producing credible data held in the regional offices and Buffalo, New York in late spring. As an outgrowth of the workshops, regional grants and national funding sources were identified and secured to support state volunteer monitoring efforts. This was highlighted by four community organizations, two in New York and two in New Jersey, being awarded grants in 2013. The projects involved using sampling equipment loaned from EPA to monitor pathogens and water quality on tributaries of the NY/NJ Harbor.

The region continued its outreach throughout the remainder of the year creating the Region 2 Citizen Science Website to aid community groups and citizen scientists. In 2014, EPA turned its focus to bringing the Citizen Science Program to its territorial and academic partners in the Caribbean where resources are limited and often insufficient to address the immense health and environmental needs of the area. Partnering with EPA’s Caribbean Science Consortium, a two-day workshop was held in late summer at the University of Puerto Rico’s Rio Piedras Campus. The workshop brought EPA experts, government, academia and community groups to discuss current science activities in the Caribbean, and explore how communities can seek solutions to environmental and public health issues.

The EPA Regional Citizen Science Program welcomes our citizen scientists in an effort to better understand and protect our environment. By involving the community and providing the tools to increase the quality of the data collected and assist in its interpretation, we can work together to achieve our common goals. The key to the success of any and all Citizen Science projects lies in the effective and open communication and coordination between all partners.

About the Author:  Pat currently serves as the citizen science coordinator in Region 2, and has been with EPA Region 2’s Division of Environmental Science and Assessment as an Environmental Scientist in the Superfund and Brownfields Program for over 26 years.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Crushed Couch on Broadway

2014 November 3

By Linda Longo

Sanitation workers crush a curbside couch.

Sanitation workers crush a curbside couch.

The other morning just outside my EPA office building at 290 Broadway in Manhattan on my way to get my morning coffee I saw a perfectly good couch being crushed by a solid waste truck. I wondered why someone would not want that couch. Then on my way back from coffee I saw the same solid waste workers crushing perfectly good office chairs, the kind with wheels and adjustable seating! I don’t need a new office chair and I don’t need a blue couch, but there’s got to be someone in New York City that does.

I had a long conversation with the solid waste worker (I regret not asking his name) and he told me this stuff is nothing compared to what he crushes in other, wealthier neighborhoods, like leather couches and oak tables and fine china. Seriously? Now I didn’t get the sense he was pulling my leg because I’ve seen good stuff out on the curbs with the piles of garbage too often. It’s commonplace in NYC maybe because we have small apartments or we get a better one or it has a rip or it just doesn’t fit out needs. I’ve tried to donate good items and it’s actually harder than you think. Places that sell used items only want things that are not ripped or stained. And my solid waste friend said he even crushes items from these stores on a regular basis because if they don’t sell it, then eventually they need to get rid of it, hence call the solid waste truck guy, and crush it, and pile it up in a landfill.

I wish I had the time and wherewithal to buy a big truck and follow my friend around to save the good items from being crushed. I’d have a big warehouse to store these items too and it’d be open 24 hours a day for anyone to come and take for free. I’d even have a free delivery service – because I know that’s always an issue in NYC too – many of us don’t have cars. If you have a similar reaction, here are a few websites for getting rid of unwanted items:

Reuse Marketplace

Build It Green NYC

About the Author: Linda started her career with EPA in 1998 working in the water quality program. For the past seven years she’s helped regulated facilities understand how to be in compliance with EPA enforcement requirements. Outside of work Linda enjoys exploring neighborhoods of NYC, photographing people in their everyday world, and sewing handbags made from recycled materials that she gives to her friends.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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When the Moon Hits Your Eye…Like a Big Pizza Pie

2014 October 29
Local taste testers agree – NYC has some of the best pizza around.

Local taste testers agree – NYC has some of the best pizza around.

By Jennifer May-Reddy

New Yorkers are spoiled by pizza of the finest quality (and bagels for that matter too)!

What sets our pizza apart from the rest?  I found myself thinking about this as I “split a pie” with my husband and three kids last weekend.  One theory is that our stellar New York City tap water has something to do with it.  I asked the owner of a local pizza joint and he told me that he does use water straight from the tap with no additional filters when making his fresh pizza dough every day.

So what role does clean water play in good pizza making?  Former NYC Mayor Bloomberg used to refer to the City’s drinking water as the “champagne of water.” Our water comes from a combination of reservoirs and lakes in a watershed located just north and west of New York City. The water is regularly monitored and tested, but everyday residents like you and me can play a part in making sure the quality of our water remains high. The NYC Department of Environmental Protection’s web site states that, “Each person can help these systems run better by conserving water, disposing of garbage and household chemicals properly and being concerned about water quality in the City’s surrounding waters.”

So do your part New Yorkers!  If our waters get polluted, any pollutants can carry downstream.  And who wants to put the taste of our legendary pizza at risk?  In addition to much more serious problems!

EPA is doing its part to protect the quality of our pizza by working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on an action to help safeguard our nation’s waters and public health.  The initiative is called Waters of the US and you can learn more about it and comment on the proposal at www.epa.gov/uswaters.

So, the next time you bite into a delicious NY slice, remember the one-of-a-kind clean drinking water that helped make your pizza so yummy.  Ciao!

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Bronx Zoo Memories

2014 October 20
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

By Elias Rodriguez

October memories bring me to declare a few words in commemoration of our just retired Yankees team captain, reliable #2, Derek Jeter.  Babe Ruth was #3. Baseball season will soon be over and a new champion will be crowned. Our region is distinct and one source of pride is that we are home to the winningest team in professional baseball history. Sadly, for my beloved New York Yankees, the season is already over given their uncharacteristically poor hitting and anemic pitching this year. Ever optimistic, perhaps we will add to our 27 World Series championships next year?

I am not sure what El Capitán’s stance is on the environment, but he certainly warmed the earth with his obvious love for the game and changed the climate in professional sports with his on and off the field goodwill. There is no real need to review Jeter’s illustrious career but for the unfamiliar: on his way to helping the team win five championships, he was also named Rookie of Year in 1996, Sports Illustrated’s 2009 Sportsman of the Year, a five time winner of the Golden Glove (which you do not get for dropping the ball) and winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, which is given each year to the league player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.” Yep, our shortstop only played on one team during his career and he was a paragon in pinstripes. We lovingly refer to Yankee Stadium as the Bronx Zoo for its spectacular atmosphere and wild incidents.

Of course, becoming a world renowned competitor does not signify that you are an inherently positive role model. Yet, according to most accounts, Jeter leaves behind a legacy of professionalism, hard work and earned the respect of peers and fans alike.

We will sorely miss the Bronx Bomber. What legacy will you produce? Each of us can contribute to a better world and healthier environment. Switch to clean energy. Use less energy. Watch your water use. Reduce waste. You don’t have to be a professional athlete to bat in a run or score a point for planet Earth!

About the Author: Elias serves as EPA Region 2’s bilingual public information officer. Prior to joining EPA, the proud Nuyorican worked at Time Inc. conducting research for TIME, LIFE, FORTUNE and PEOPLE magazines. He is a graduate of Hunter College, Baruch College and the Theological Institute of the Assembly of Christian Churches in NYC.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Eclipse-Mania!

2014 October 16
The October 8, 2014 total lunar eclipse.

The October 8, 2014 total lunar eclipse.

By Jim Haklar

I love eclipses. I mean, I really love eclipses! I love eclipses so much that two years ago, I flew to Albuquerque for the weekend to see a solar eclipse. But more about that later…

An eclipse happens when the Earth, Moon and Sun all line up. Technically, this is called syzygy (try to form that word in a game of Scrabble).  A lunar eclipse happens when the earth is between the Moon and the Sun. When the Moon is between the Sun and the Earth you get a solar eclipse. Lunar eclipses happen when the Moon is full and solar eclipses occur when the Moon is new. So, why don’t we have an eclipse twice a month? Well, the Moon’s orbit is tilted by a little over five degrees. So most of the time there isn’t perfect alignment and you don’t have syzygy.

From any given location on the Earth, lunar eclipses are more frequently seen than solar eclipses. That’s because the Earth casts a bigger shadow on the Moon than the Moon does on the Earth. The shadows consist of two parts. There is a smaller, darker umbra surrounded by the lighter penumbra. If you are in a location where the Moon’s umbra passes through, you will see a total solar eclipse. Otherwise the solar eclipse will be partial (since you will be in the penumbra). For lunar eclipses, the situation is a little different. The Moon can completely or partially pass through the Earth’s umbra (resulting in a total or partial lunar eclipse) or just pass though the penumbra (called a penumbral eclipse).

Now for my Albuquerque story. Two years ago the Moon’s umbra passed directly in front of the Sun and this was visible in many cities including Albuquerque (I went to Albuquerque because of the clear weather). But since the Moon was at a point in its orbit when it was farther away from the Earth, it didn’t completely block out the Sun. Instead, an annulus or ring of light from the Sun’s disk encircled the Moon. This is called an annular solar eclipse.

On August 21, 2017 there will be the first a total solar eclipse visible from the contiguous United States in over 30 years. Information on the best places to see the eclipse is already on the Web, so start think about taking an eclipse vacation!

About the Author: Jim is an environmental engineer at the EPA’s Edison, New Jersey Environmental Center.  In his 28 years with the agency he has worked in a variety of programs including Superfund, Water Management, Public Affairs, and Toxic Substances.  He has been an amateur astronomer since he was a teenager, and can often be found after work in the back of the Edison facility with his telescope.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Latinos in the Melting Pot: Personal Memories During National Hispanic Heritage Month

2014 October 14
The flag of Puerto Rico

The flag of Puerto Rico

By Elias Rodriguez

As mentioned in my previous blog, which commemorates National Hispanic Heritage Month, my parents were part of the pioneros who came to the mainland Unites States in search of personal growth and better economic opportunities. They were both born on Borinquen as the natives originally called it before the Spanish conquistadores colonized Puerto Rico. I collaborate regularly with my peers on the island since EPA Region 2 is comprised of New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and eight federally recognized Indian nations.

The island commonwealth is not yet one of the 50 states, but anyone born there is a United States citizen. Today, Puerto Ricans live in every state in the Union. In this blog I share a hidden treasure of information. My alma matter, Hunter College, houses the Center for Puerto Rican Studies (Centro). They have developed a comprehensive and informative poster series about the Puerto Rican experience among a vast trove of other resources and archives. The series on Puerto Rican migration is particular

ly fascinating, but the entire series is well worth a perusal.

Latinos are a diverse bunch and our stories are ever evolving. My preferred identifier in this regard is to be called a Nuyorican, a creative designation we use to describe a native New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent rather than our Boricua cousins, who were actually born on the Caribbean island of PR. In this tradition, I am similar to the highest ranking Nuyorican or Puerto Rican in the United States public service, namely, United States Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Maria Sotomayor. With her ascension to that high position it is evident that we are fully integrated into the melting pot of American life.

As we join the fiesta together with folks whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America, let us recognize that people from all nations, tribes and tongues are worthy of celebration and have unique contributions to make.

About the Author: Elias serves as EPA Region 2’s bilingual public information officer. Prior to joining EPA, the proud Nuyorican worked at Time Inc. conducting research for TIME, LIFE, FORTUNE and PEOPLE magazines. He is a graduate of Hunter College, Baruch College and the Theological Institute of the Assembly of Christian Churches in NYC.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Exploring the Former Fresh Kills Landfill via Kayak

2014 October 8

By Murray Lantner

Kayaking at Fresh Kills Park

Kayaking at Fresh Kills Park

On a grey, windy and cool day a group of over 20, including EPAers from several Region 2 divisions, including our Caribbean Environmental Protection Division, and their friends and family took to the estuarine inlet within the former Fresh Kills Landfill site for a one-of-a-kind paddling trip. The trip was organized by Maureen Krudner, Regional Green Infrastructure Coordinator and Staten Islander – through the EPA Region 2 Emerging Leaders Network – and was hosted and outfitted by the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation which provided kayaks and an amazing guide, Chris, who provided an informal informational tour. We started the trip with a short visit to the NYC Department of Sanitation Visitor’s Center at the former landfill where we learned about the decades-long effort to transform the Fresh Kills landfill into a 2,200 acre city park some three times the size of Central Park.

The plan for the park is to combine state-of-the-art ecological restoration techniques with extraordinary settings for recreation, public art, and facilities for many sports and programs. While nearly 45 percent of the site was once used for landfilling operations, the remainder of the site is currently composed of wetlands, open waterways, and unfilled lowland areas. We also learned that the methane gas that is generated in the landfill is collected, purified and sold to the gas company where it is transmitted to over 20,000 Staten Island homes. This landfill gas collection process not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions by converting methane into fuel but also has generated approximately $3-$5 million a year in revenue for the city over the last decade. The Fresh Kills Park is a great example of how New York City is embracing sustainability, both through mitigation and climate adaptation strategies.

Out on the water, the tides were quite high so the restored Spartina alterniflora or saltmarsh cordgrass was partially submerged and only the tops were visible, and in some cases we could paddle right over it.  The city has a nearby nursery that grows plugs of cordgrass for use in salt marsh restoration projects, which did seem to be taking root here – a great sign for the park.

The Fresh Kills landfill paddle was truly a treat – open waters, salt marsh, surrounded by mostly vegetated hill slopes (the former garbage dumps) –  making for a surprisingly peaceful and natural experience. This is a fantastic area to explore and, once there, it’s quite easy to forget the past use of the site and to look forward to the fascinating restoration and parkland that is being created on top of the landfill. To help facilitate the park creation process Region 2 ELN raised about $200 that was donated to the Fresh Kills Park Alliance. Thanks again to Maureen, EPA ELN, NYC Parks and Recreation and the NYC Dept. of Sanitation for a wonderful experience, I encourage you all to check out the park, and explore future opportunities for educational adventures along the Fresh Kills.

About the Author: Murray Lantner is an Environmental Engineer in EPA’s Water Compliance Branch who conducts enforcement of wastewater and stormwater permits under the Clean Water Act at EPA’s Manhattan office. Murray has worked for the EPA for 20 years, and started in EPA’s Chicago office. Murray enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and paddling. Murray holds a B.S in Civil Engineering and a Masters in Environmental Engineering from the Johns Hopkins University and a Masters in Conservation Biology from Columbia University.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Personal Memories During National Hispanic Heritage Month

2014 October 6
The author and his family.

The author and his family.

By Elias Rodriguez

America is presently engaged in National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 to October 15. Latino cultural pride is a diverse, multifaceted and nonpartisan experience. This national period of reflection and events began in 1968 under President Lyndon B. Johnson and was broadened by President Ronald Reagan in 1988.

To remember and honor my Latino ancestors during this festive period, I’m sharing a family photo that captures the affection, energy and delight of family life in my distinct Puerto Rican clan.

My father and mother migrated to Nueva York from Santurce and Canovanas, Puerto Rico in the 1950s. They met at church on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and the rest is history. In this photograph, taken in NYC, circa 1970s, the restless niño on my grandfather’s lap is me. Anchoring the family portrait is my beloved mother and maternal grandparents surrounded by my two sisters, four brothers, one aunt and an infant cousin. True to form, dad was absent during the photo shoot and at work after which he probably brought home from the local bodega: groceries, treats and, on one memorable occasion, a live rooster. The latter did not last long in a Manhattan apartment building and was promptly converted into a delicious stew.

A few short years after this photo, I experienced my first visit to Puerto Rico. Treasured memories of my abuelo and abuela include hearty meals of rice, beans, pork and freshly picked vegetables from our ancestral home; the luscious taste of leche fresca straight from cows milked early in the day; and the absolute recognition that the only way to address my grandparents was in a low, respectful tone, and in Spanish, their sole language.

Fortunately, my forbearers also left behind the legacy of a healthy respect for the Earth, an admiration for nature, and a commitment to responsible stewardship. Their enduring message is that every natural resource is a divine blessing and should be managed with wisdom, generosity and cooperatively. My abuelitos taught my family to respect the planet because it will outlast us, never litter because this is where we live, never be wasteful because every resource is cherished, and always be grateful for our days are few before we too are a memory.

About the Author: Elias serves as EPA Region 2’s bilingual public information officer. Prior to joining EPA, the proud Nuyorican worked at Time Inc. conducting research for TIME, LIFE, FORTUNE and PEOPLE magazines. He is a graduate of Hunter College, Baruch College and the Theological Institute of the Assembly of Christian Churches in NYC.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.