We summarize our mission as “LAB: Learning Adventure Boating. We provide canoeing and kayaking programs for ecological and social good.” 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.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access Statement

Regardless of ability, ethnicity, spirituality or secular philosophy, immigration status or national origin, sex or gender identity, sexual orientation, race or socioeconomic background everyone should have equal access to the benefits of our waterways and nature as a whole. 

The volunteers and students of HarborLAB know that people’s access to New York City’s estuary and watershed has historically not been equitable and that inequities persist. So embracing, celebrating, and uplifting diversity and inclusion is fundamental to our organization. Our environmental education and stewardship programs are for everyone, and all should feel warmly welcomed and not face unjust barriers. That is why we foster belonging in the outdoors, recognize the importance of historically significant places, and empower leaders from all communities through partnerships and advancement within our ranks.

Everyone has a stake in the protection of our public waterways and keeping the water we love and need healthy for the next generation.

Water Acknowledgment

HarborLAB’s volunteers and students paddle within the Lenapehoking, the domain of the Canarsee, Lekawe (Rockaway), Mespeatches (Maspeth), Matinecock, Munsee and Wappinger peoples. We recognize that these peoples, who are often referred to collectively as the Lenni-Lenape, were this region’s rightful sovereigns. We respect their treaty rights and inherent self-determination, then and now. We bear witness to the fact that the Lenni-Lenape were forced from their homes by colonial settlers using genocide and other crimes. Formal and informal practices still perpetuate attempted cultural erasure.

As aquatic ecology educators and advocates we recognize indigenous peoples as New York City’s longest serving estuary and watershed protectors. Using dugout tulip tree canoes and other vessels they harmonized their need for food and drink with the needs of a healthy ecosystem, and participated in a vast river and coastal trading network. Contemporary Lenni-Lenape use the legal system, legislation, protest, direct action, science and education, media and regenerative practices to repair and preserve water systems. 

We also understand that New York City is today the municipality with the greatest population of indigenous people drawn from throughout the United States. They are a thriving community who we must consult as HarborLAB grows and inclusively serves all New Yorkers and visitors. 

As part of this statement of acknowledgment we commit to specific actions:

  • Hosting an annual fundraising paddle for a SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry scholarship for indigenous students selected by the SUNY ESF Center for Native Peoples and the Environment. To inclusively serve state residents and the out-of-state Lenni-Lenape descendant diaspora, online degree programs are prioritized.


  • Hosting educational paddles and events with paid lecturers recommended by the Lenape Center, the American Indian Community House, and the Museum of the American Indian.


  • Incorporating indigenous history and knowledge into our tours and other environmental education programs.

Board of Directors


Erik Baard, Chair
HarborLAB Founder. Pulitzer-nominee.
Winner of state’s “Greenest New Yorker” award.


Joel Kupferman, Esq.
Founder and Executive Director,
NY Environmental Law and Justice Project 



Jamie Ong
Environmental Protection Project Manager,
NYC Department of Parks & Recreation.


Ingrid Veras, PhD
Assistant Professor of Biology,

CUNY LaGauardia Community College.

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Ebony Young
Nonprofit leader, CSR executive.


Our Volunteer Crew (growing list



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.