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Conservation Gala Swings

Guests at the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center helped recreate the feel of the 1920s as they dressed for the Legacy of Conservation Gala held at Piping Rock Club in Locust Valley. In honor of the TRS&AC opening in 1923 music of the ‘20s flowed through the rooms on May 4. There was even and a speakeasy where the doorman said, “No photographs please, this is against the law.” Inside there was a stained glass player piano at work.

Nearby an Oyster Bay Historical Society exhibit included the Olmsted Brothers, Landscape Architects vision of both the TRS&AC and the memorial section of the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park.

TRS&AC Executive Director Theodore Sherff said they hope to bring those plans to fruition as they revitalize the sanctuary grounds.

Ted Sherff is leaving after three years as director of the sanctuary.  Audubon NY presented him with Waterbirds by Theodore Cross. He also accepted a Sagamore Hill National Historic Site 50-year commemorative coin from Supervisor Thomas Ross in honor of its joining with the National Park Service.

Erin Crotty, Audubon NY executive director thanked this year’s sponsors:
 Robert L. Kilroy, CFP® and Maureen A. O’Donnell, CLU, CLTC, Wealth Management Advisors of Northwestern Mutual. As a result all the proceeds of the gala will go to support the TRS. She also thanked the Legacy Event Co-Chairs: Edward C. Mohlenhoff, Simon C. Roosevelt, and Edward F. von Briesen.

Sanctuary History

The sanctuary land was donated by, William Emlen and Christine G. Roosevelt, grandparents of Elizabeth Roosevelt, who attended and got rousing applause from the guests. The new sanctuary entrance became the home for a fountain designed and crafted by Bessie Potter Vonnoh, a famous sculptor to honor the 26th President Theodore Roosevelt after his death. The interior of the sanctuary was designed by the first warden, Eugene Swope. In the book Mabel and Eugene Swope wrote of their years at the sanctuary, Voices in the Woods, the first chapter reports that when Emelen Roosevelt met with Mabel and Ethel when they first arrived at the Sanctuary, they asked him what his thoughts were about creating it. Emlen admitted he had no knowledge of birds, but said his cousin Theodore was the expert. As a result, using his knowledge of birds, Swope created a perfect environment for them. He supplied a list of his preferred items to Hicks Nursery in Westbury to provide for nesting and food to attract birds.

Since then, Sherff explained at a recent talk at the OBHS, that what they originally had was a coastal forest, foggy and damp, and today they are recreating that environment, again with the help of Hicks Nursery, but with a new list of native species that belong in the original location.

Their aim in starting the new sanctuary was to “help toward an intimate understanding of song birds, to enhance pleasure in them and to broaden interest in their protection.” The intention at first was to make it a private preserve, only later did the board decide it should be open to the public. Today the sanctuary is involved in an extensive educational outreach to children through innovative school programs as well as programs and events for adults.

Legacy Awards

The TRS&AC presented its 2013 Legacy of Conservation awards to Willis DeLaCour, Congressman Steve Israel and Supervisor John Venditto. Willis S. DeLaCour, Jr. a longtime TRS &AC supporter, serves on the TRS Facilities committee and advisor to their Aviary Project. Congressman Steve Israel of the 3rd Congressional district, passed the 2006 LIS Stewardship Act. Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, is an advocate for the environment.

Bernadette Castro was the celebrity auctioneer with seven items that became eight when a Week in Greece went for $3,500 and was offered to the runner up bidder for another $3,500. A picnic on the Christeen for 24 people went for $3,800 after a lot of competitive bidding; $1,600 bought 1,000 bulbs for a homeowner; a week in Cedar Key went for $2,400; a Maine getaway to a rustic cabin went for $1,600. A week in Brittany went for $3,800 with the help of Castro’s son Bernard Austin, an advisory board member who is with Harrison Architects of Boston. He got out on the floor and helped raise the bid. A Sag Harbor Cove getaway went for $3,000

Castro finished her stint saying the TRS was offering a bottle of wine to everyone who put up their hand to donate $500 for a teen to spend a week in a sanctuary program. Dinner, dessert and dancing followed as people picked up their silent auction items, at the end of another memorable gala night.