We summarize our mission as “LAB: Learning Adventure Boating. We provide canoeing and kayaking programs for ecological and social good.” We are affiliated with the Open Space Institute for 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsorship. Below is the full educational, ecological, and social mission as stated in our New York State nonprofit incorporation:

  1. To foster estuary and NYC watershed-themed ecological and natural science education, especially for underprivileged NYC youth and underrepresented community members.
  2. To foster estuary ecological restoration and NYC watershed conservation as a justly shared legacy.
  3. To document, especially through photographs and videos, the state of New York Harbor and the Hudson-Raritan estuary and the NYC watershed.
  4. To promote safe, inclusive, and sustainable estuary and NYC watershed access by maintaining public boat fleets and access sites, and transporting boats to sites for special events;
  5. To foster partnerships that extend the missions of other social service groups onto the water;
  6. To procure and maintain scientific equipment for the above purposes;
  7. To disseminate information and conduct informational efforts; act as a catalyst and facilitator regarding the above purposes.


Please click here to see our bylaws.



HarborLAB_logoD03A_sq (2)

We’re nerds and we’re proud! In keeping with our environmental science emphasis, our logo background is a stylized depiction of saltwater at the molecular level. It was inspired by Caroline Walker, conceived and directed by Erik Baard, and refined and executed by Tracy Coon, a volunteer with Qajak USA. Caroline Walker and Steve Sanford provided final feedback. Here’s a brief and excellent explanation by the US Geological Survey that includes an image reminiscent of our logo.

The partial positive and negative charges on a water molecule produce attractions with ions and other polar molecules. The attraction between water molecules and ions may be strong enough to separate the ions, causing the ions to become suspended (dissolved) in the water.

The ability of water to flow freely while hydrogen-bonded to other molecules and ions makes it an excellent transport medium.

In the example above, the salt (NaCl) becomes dissolved in the water, forming a solution. A solution is composed of a substance dissolved in another substance. The substance dissolved is thesolute and the substance that dissolves the solute is a solvent. In this example, the solvent is water and the solute is salt. A solution in which water is the solvent is called an aqueous solution.

Board of Directors

Scott Sternbach, Chair.
CUNY LaGuardia Community College Photography Program Director.

Erik Baard, Founder and Executive Director.

Lisa Belfast, Coordinator of Afterschool Programs, Hour Children.

Joel Kupferman, Esq. Founder of the NY Environmental Law and Justice Project.

Our Crew (growing list

Sally Samir Attia, Esq.

A Queens native with a love of kayaking, she has volunteered with the  LIC Community Boathouse,  Produce Paddles designed to raise funds for local food pantries and promote GrowNYC markets, and other other efforts for public benefit. She will continue this community giving through HarborLAB.

Erik Baard, Founder and Executive Director


The 2011 “Greenest New Yorker,” chosen by the state government’s I LOVE NY campaign. He founded the LIC Community Boathouse and what became City of Water Day, the region’s largest annual harbor festival. He initiated the NYC Watertrail Association and is a co-founder of Green Shores NYC. HIs family has worked on New York Harbor for a century; among his family were and are tugboat captains, marine contractors, a barge superintendent, and an aquaculture educator. His grand aunt Wilhemina Van den Baard was raised his grandfather for part of their childhood on a tugboat and was briefly famous as “Tugboat Minnie,” the blue collar debutante. On land Erik founded and operates a citywide program to plant hundreds of heirloom apple trees, indigenous fruits, and other edibles in public spaces. He’s coordinated large volunteer programs and corporate outings for Earth Day New York. He was environmental program manager for Citizens Committee for NYC.

As a science writer and general interest journalist, he has been published in the New Yorker, NY Times, Economist, Popular Science, Wired online, National Public Radio, WNET, Village Voice, Times of London, SEED, Wall Street Journal and other media. He won the Best Reporting prize from the New York Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for both features and explanatory journalism. His writing is included in the textbook, Readings for the 21st Century and Space 2100. He also writes for young readers in Scholastic’s Science World. He is co-author of the book, The East River, wrote a forward to Going Coastal, and wrote a chapter for the Hudson River Watertrail Guide. He has lectured at the New York Botanical Gardens, New School, CUNY LaGuardia Community College, Queens Public Library, Solar One, public schools, and in a series at the New York Public Library. His essay “Peace by the Decibel” was commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum and performed by professional actors several times a day for six weekends.

Paul Baker

A lifelong outdoors enthusiast who served in the U.S. Coast Guard, he also helped rebuild schools in California after the 1989 earthquake. A skilled canoeist and experienced kayaker, he has volunteered at Hallets Cove and other estuary programs with the LIC Community Boathouse for five seasons.

Daisy Hope Benjamin

A triathlete and an ER nurse with Mr. Sinai Hospital in NYC, she holds certificates in Basic Life Saving, Advanced Life Saving, Advanced Pediatric Life Saving, and Trauma.

Abigael Burke

A native of Long Island City, she is currently completing her second year of service at Hour Children Food Pantry as part of the AmeriCorps Anti-Hunger and Empowerment Corps. Having graduated from Beloit College with a degree in International Relations, she has always been interested in issues of food justice and food insecurity and will oversee HarborLAB’s “Produce Paddles” to raise funds for localanti-hunger groups. She has a passion for connecting local farmers to food pantries in New York City and for kayaking.

Bob Din

A dedicated volunteer for  the western Queens waterfront, NY Harbor, and improving our city’s social and ecological conditions as a whole. He has volunteered for LIC Community Boathouse paddling programs for children and adults, Two Coves Community Garden, Gotham Orchards, Astoria Park Alliance, and the Western Queens Compost Initiative. He is assistant gardener at the Greening Queens Library initiative. He also volunteers for Hurricane Sandy Relief for HarborLAB and New York Cares, and has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans and New York City. Professionally he’s worked in advertising sales for the New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, and the Journal News, as associate publisher for Story WorldWide, and for a community organization.

Patricia Menje Erickson, Facilities Manager


Longtime resident and business owner in Long Island City. Building engineer and mechanic with a large utility. One of the earliest and steadiest volunteers at the LIC Community Boathouse and volunteer for events throughout the harbor for Swim NYC, Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, and others.

Danushi Fernando, Volunteer Co-Manager

Campus life coordinator for a large university, she holds a masters degree in corporate and organizational communications with a focus on conflict resolution. She oversees a staff of 34 resident assistants and two graduate assistants who serve 1,200 students. She’s earning her masters in psychology for counseling therapy. She has volunteered for several nonprofits and is particularly sensitive to the humanitarian needs caused by global climate change and other natural disasters. In the wake of the 2004 tsunami, she volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and interned for the United Nations in Sri Lanka. Additional languages: Sinhalese.

Davis D. Janowski

A journalist for 20 years, currently as a columnist and reporter with Investment News. He understands the urgency of improving sewage system defects that pollute the harbor; he received training at the Centers for Disease Control and served as a medical editor and writer covering the field of epidemiology and infectious diseases. He is a dually certified NAUI-YMCA scuba diver for 25 years who has executed over a thousand dives. He served as a volunteer on the Emanuel Point shipwreck excavation and conservation project and as a volunteer supply diver on the Woodville Karst Plain Project. He enjoys paddling two Folbot sea kayaks in New York Harbor and beyond. He also hikes extensively and is a GPS and geocaching enthusiast, orienteering enthusiast, canoeist, and Eagle Scout.

EJ Lee

Eun Jung “EJ” Lee has long been a student leader in her CUNY programs. She recently graduated from Queens College with a major in philosophy and will continue in graduate studies in business or science. She is a lifetime resident of Sunnyside, Queens.

Gil Lopez

Landscape and green roof designer and certified permaculturist. Special interest in restoring indigenous ecosystems and creating community gardens and urban farms. He instructs in green roof design and sustainable practices through the City University of New York and Queens Public Library. He has circumnavigated Manhattan and paddled lesser-known but vibrant parts of the estuary.

Grace Magee

President of the Queens College Environmental Club and experienced volunteer with Earth Day New York, SustyQ (Sustainable Queens), and other green causes.

Wynne Parry

Science reporter who wrote for the website LiveScience.com, among other publications. She has written about global warming, invasive species, the scientific argument for eating insects and pigeon-nappers who scoop up birds on city streets for nefarious ends.

Wynne discovered paddling on New York City waters in the summer of 2008. Since then, she has participated in excursions and safety training with a number of organizations.

Emanuel “Manny” Steier

A Bronx native and Queens resident for 60 years. He’s a Flushing High School and Queens College graduate who brings computer and data processing skills to HarborLAB, along with a devotion to nature and urban photography and bicycling. He aided HarborLAB’s 2012 water sampling program with LaGuardia Community College and the NYC Water Trail Association. He is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, New York Academy of Sciences. and Queens Historical Society.

Caroline Walker, Volunteer Co-Manager

An artist and graphic designer with a long career in advertising who now spearheads the Girl Scout of the USA’s Web presence and multimedia outreach. She has been a lead volunteer for the LIC Community Boathouse’s children’s kayaking program at Hallets Cove for four years and assisted with safety instruction for children and adults through the New York Winter Kayak Pool Program at Riverbank State Park. She holds a Level 2 assessment in Coastal Kayaking and rescue skills from the American Canoe Association.