Nearly twenty years after Clarkson University’s Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries opened its doors as a one-of-a-kind research and education institute on the banks of the Hudson River, the Institute’s facilities on Dennings Point are to be dramatically expanded.
With the impending construction of the Beatrice G. Donofrio Environmental Education Complex through the generous support of the Donofrio family in memory of their mother, Beatrice G. Donofrio, the dream of a world-class education and research facility at Beacon, NY will become a reality. This new complex will empower academic innovation, research, enhance partnerships, and include all stages of the K-12 experience to educate and inspire the next generation of STEM professionals.
In addition, the Donofrio family has created the Beatrice G. Donofrio Science Teaching Fellowship, a program whose mission is to support annual semester-long faculty residencies in Beacon, to reach students in Beacon and beyond with learning in physical science, and to develop and deliver STEM enrichment and outreach to students and schools in and around Beacon, NY.
“My mother had a deep love and appreciation for Dennings Point and was passionate about making sure everyone had access to education. This project will ensure that the natural beauty of the park will be combined with educational opportunities to share her passion with future generations,” Nicholas Donofrio said.
In 2013 Beatrice Donofrio published a book detailing her family’s history and the stories of her life. Beatrice was a longtime leader in the Beacon community right up until her death at age 98 in 2018. She volunteered at the local nursing home until she was 95, she was the President of several organizations and led many church groups for St. John’s Church, led St. Rocco's Women Auxiliary, the Sons of Italy, and the Catholic Daughters as well. In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, she was a part of Beacon’s NSO (Neighborhood Service Organization, now called the Beacon Community Center) where she was able to have an impact on the lives of many underprivileged children.
“Mom was born in the Bronx but was a very active Beacon resident for over 80 years. While growing up, she spent her summers in Beacon with her Mother's family who lived close to the river. Dennings Point was her favorite go-to place for cooling off and simply enjoying the views. She talked about it often. Education always mattered to Mom. Ours and everyone else's,” Nicholas Donofrio said.
The goal of the project is to ensure that all learners, regardless of resources or financial capacity, have access to and the ability to embrace the natural environment as a learning classroom.
Last month, the Institute was awarded a grant by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to develop new and updated exhibits, curriculum, and programs about the Hudson River Estuary, its watershed, and fish and wildlife for visitors and Beacon schools.
Dennings Point is a 64-acre peninsula jutting into the Hudson River and part of the Hudson Highlands State Park of the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP). Since 2003, OPRHP and the Beacon Institute have maintained a unique and valuable partnership on Dennings Point.