The National Center for Science and Civic Engagement and SENCER are proud to support the Long Island Explorium’s efforts to increase our community’s awareness and promote stewardship of the ecological health of the Long Island Sound Watershed.

 Please view an introduction to the Port Jefferson Rain Garden below and learn about rain gardens by visiting: for more information, and to see photos of the installations, details of plantings, video, brochure and more.

Long Island Sound Futures Fund ( LISFF)
Rain Gardens at Port Jefferson Harbor: Linking Water, Wildlife and Waterways (NY)

The Long Island Explorium has installed 3 native plant rain gardens at the Village Center, Village Hall, and Department of Public Works. The rain gardens are located in high-visibility public sites and provide natural landscaping guidance to community members in Port Jefferson. The project demonstrates to visitors and travelers how rain gardens improve the water quality and biodiversity of Long Island Sound.

The Port Jefferson Rain Gardens were made possible by a grant to the Long Island Explorium from the Long Island Sound Futures Fund. With grant funds, Explorium support, and in-kind contributions from Suffolk Country Soil & Water Conservation District, the Village of Port Jefferson, and Suffolk County Master Gardener Volunteer, the Long Island Explorium installed these 3 native plant rain gardens with expertise from Nelson, Pope & Voorhis Environmental Planning Firm.

Want to learn more about what native plant rain gardens are and how do they work? Visit the website to learn more:


A Maritime Explorium project funded by the Long Island Sound Future Fund, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

NCSCE is a proud supporter of The Long Island Explorium: Children’s Museum of Science and Engineering. In collaboration with Flax Pond Marine Laboratory, Avalon Park and Preserve, Bailey Arboretum, The Long Island Native Plant Initiative, and Stony Brook University Department of Technology and Society the Explorium created a model initiative in which families transformed their own home gardens and yards using sustainable practices that foster improved Long Island Sound ecological health. The initiative forged a network of citizens who, with increased knowledge of the value and impact of native plants and their role in reducing the use of fertilizers and pesticides, created and cared for home landscapes that produce cleaner stormwater run-off, restore the resiliency of the Sound’s waterways, and re-establish wildlife biodiversity.

Citizen engagement with environmental sustainability was fostered through the following projects:

  • Free native plant landscaping workshops were held on Long Island in Suffolk and Nassau Counties, helping families develop and implement plans, and purchase materials to transform a minimum of 100 square feet of their own home yard. As a result of these workshops and free plant giveaways, over 17,000 square feet of ecosystem friendly habitat has been installed within the Long Island Sound watershed.
  • Annually, 10,000 visitors to the Maritime Explorium and the Eastern Long Island Mini Maker Faire experience the interactive My Yard, Our Sound Exhibit and learn how and why native plants directly impact the health and living resources of Long Island Sound. Visitors “Take The Pledge” to transform their landscape with natives and seasonally take home native plants or seeds to transform 2 square feet of land.
  • An estimated 50,000 visitors to the Maritime Explorium and adjoining Harborfront Park have the opportunity to explore the surrounding park and landscape to learn about the native plants and their impacts on the waterways with information available through a free backpack check out system and signage in the park.
  • Click here for resources used during the project including: information on how to create a pollinator friendly garden that also helps the Long Island Sound, a list of demonstration gardens, good sources for locally adapted and sourced native plants specific to Long Island, NY.

If you have questions about this program, please contact Angeline Judex with the Maritime Explorium at or Jacqueline Grennon Brooks in the Department of Technology and Society at Stony Brook University at For questions about native plants and landscaping, please contact Lauren Hubbard at

The following projects represent the types of restorations that were completed by homeowners and volunteer groups:


Girl Scouts transform a lawn into a meadow!


Wildflowers with a whimsical border


Milkweed, blueberries, iris, and mixed natives restore a curbside garden


A patio garden is transformed


A new native garden on Setauket Harbor


Lawn removal creates new habitat and a new look


Natives replace invasives


Native shrubs and forbs grace a sideyard


Milkweed, Liatris, New England Aster and more await butterflies


Tucking Liatris into a perennial border


Natives grace a shade garden


Another curbside garden for wildlife


Butterflies find this transformed hillside habitat


Native shrubs increase biodiversity


A new native border


Natives edge a lawn


Adding Winterberry to a shade garden