sUMMER JOB REWARDING, EDUCATIONAL Naturalists take to Seaside Center
GREENWICH — Working at the Bruce Museum Seaside Center means a lot of sweeping, but that’s OK with naturalist Marianna Perrier and her team.
It means that many children and families have taken time out from playing on the beach to learn something about the world around them at the Greenwich Point educational facility.
“It’s really such a special place,” said Perrier, one of two new seaside naturalists working at the center this summer. “We get mostly barefoot, wet, sandy kids that come in here. It’s never dull.”
The Larchmont, N.Y., resident joins Alex Purcell of Westport in leading the activities for visitors at the center — from drop-in crafts to special programs and lectures highlighting the ecology of Long Island Sound. The pair work with high school and college interns and volunteers and care for the denizens of the deep displayed in center’s five marine aquaria.
Perrier was an outreach instructor for the Bruce Museum, bringing Brucemobile programs in art and science into area schools over the past year. When she heard about an opportunity to stay on for the summer at the center, she jumped at the chance.
A graduate of Connecticut College, where she majored in graphic design and illustration and minored in anthropology, Perrier spent her junior year studying wildlife biology at The School for Field Studies in Kenya.
She said she enjoys working with the children and seeing their excitement as they bring sea critters they have found at the shore to show the center staff. The facility is in the Floren Family Environmental Center at the recently renovated Innis Arden Cottage beside the beach, and not far from a natural salt marsh teeming with life.
“You never know what the children are going to bring in from the beach,” Perrier said.
Center staffers use a 30-foot net called a “seine” to help families capture some sea life for closer study. While most of creatures are sent back to the wild, some are added to the center’s tanks, including flounder, a baby puffer and a baby sea robin.
Purcell, who recently earned a degree in elementary education at the University of Vermont, said her summer job as a naturalist allows her to explore ways of teaching outside a classroom. She gained practical experience at the ECHO Aquarium and Shelburne Farms in Vermont.
“Alternative education is something I’ve really been interested in for quite some time,” she said.
Daily drop-in programs include animal feedings at 11:30 a.m. on Thursdays and Sundays; seining at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Sundays; and arts and crafts from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Fridays. Other programs, including beach scavenger hunts, take place throughout the week.
The seaside naturalists will be on hand from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, until Labor Day. Beach and parking passes are required to enter Greenwich Point Park, but all the center activities are free. Donations are accepted.
For more information, call 203-637-3515 or visit BruceMuseum.org and look for the Seaside Center tab.