The sounds of bleating sheep and braying donkeys, occasionally interspersed with the children’s laughter, waft across the fields of the 100-year-old, 250-acre working farm. At Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County Farm and Education Center, staffers and 4-H educators help children in preschool through grade 12 participate in outdoor education and recreation, including opportunities to get up close to the resident animals.
Teachers introduce ecological concepts such as the best way to hug a tree in the outdoor Nature Explore Classroom, where 50-foot-tall arborvitaes and flowering cherry trees border open spaces for free play that includes a raised herb garden, a 138-year-old hay barn, and a climbing area. In warm weather, instructors also helm the Green Youth Initiative, which teaches students how to grow leaves from their fingertips and what their impact on the environment means. At different times throughout the year, staffers shift their focus to seasonal celebrations, with special events such as corn mazes and the Pumpkin Fling—a pumpkin catapult contest.
At Icon Aviation Group, flying instructors put four kinds of light sport aircraft to good use training future pilots of all ages, young and old, for private pilot's licenses, instrument ratings, commercial flight instructor ratings, and airline transport ratings. Pilots-in-training log hours in the cockpits of a Piper Warrior, Beechcraft Baron B-55, Mooney M20E, and Aeronca 7AC, with access to all the instruments and gauges needed for eventual solo flying. The aviation school couples its in-air instruction with classroom learning back on solid ground, where pupils can safely build confidence under the guidance and command of experienced pilots and work on honing their cabin-announcements voice.
Situated on a flat-water river whose mouth opens into Great South Bay, Carman's River Canoe & Kayak has something for all levels of paddlers. In addition to providing equipment, the staff rents out single and double kayaks, as well as multiperson canoes, and suggests routes that can include the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge or––for those with a bit more experience––trips out to Fire Island.
The certified flight instructors at Sport Flying USA whisk students and passengers aloft from Brookhaven Airport for flights ranging from discovery lessons for beginners to training for student pilots. Each aircraft in the fleet—including a BRM Aero NG5 Bristell and a Remos GX Aviator II—are equipped with modern avionics including color GPS to ease navigation and learning.
Since its founding in 1946 by Louis Mancuso, a flying instructor for the British Royal Air Force, Mid Island Air Service has graduated more than 5,000 pilots from its flight school. Its flock of FAA-certified flight instructors imparts the aeronautic knowledge and pixie dust required to achieve a number of certifications, from private to commercial-instrument to sport pilot. Based out of both Brookhaven and Long Island MacArthur Airports, Mid Island boasts a combined hangar space of nearly 200,000 square feet, enough to provide FBO services to small-aircraft owners alongside its own stable of training and rental aircraft.