The "Heroes of the Great Outdoors" exhibit at the Jones...

The "Heroes of the Great Outdoors" exhibit at the Jones Beach Energy and Nature Center highlights the works of African Americans in the development of new technologies and concepts in science. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa Loarca

Gladys West's mathematical modeling of Earth's contours paved the way for GPS devices — a relief to countless lost and wayward drivers.

Warren Washington's studies of the atmosphere are helping scientists deal with climate change.

Rodney Stotts is working to save eagles and other raptors in the Anacostia section of Washington, D.C.

The contributions of West, Washington, Stotts and other African Americans — often overlooked or ignored — are being celebrated this month as part of Black History Month exhibits and programs at Jones Beach in Wantagh and other Long Island state parks.

"I think we need to celebrate the accomplishments and achievements of African Americans in the development of new technologies and concepts in science that we use today," Jeanne Haffner, curator at Jones Beach Energy and Nature Center, told Newsday. "It’s also about inspiring the young people who come to the center."

Black History Month programs are planned at state parks throughout New York. Black History Month has been celebrated in the United States since 1915.

On Long Island, workshops, displays and films also are scheduled at Connetquot River State Park Preserve in Oakdale, Hempstead Lake State Park in West Hempstead, the Long Island State Parks Regional Headquarters in Babylon, Nissequogue River State Park in Kings Park and Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park in Oyster Bay.

Mia Ramirez, left, an educator, and Tiffani Rushford, an environmental educator assistant, will...

Mia Ramirez, left, an educator, and Tiffani Rushford, an environmental educator assistant, will guide visitors through the Jones Beach center's Black History Month exhibit. Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa Loarca

The Jones Beach nature center is featuring a poster exhibit, "Heroes of the Great Outdoors," created by environmental educator assistant Tiffani Rushford, highlighting the work of West, Washington and Rue Mapp, founder of Outdoor Afro, a national program that seeks to foster Black leadership in nature programs.

Part of the exhibit looks at the impact of racial and income inequality on Long Island schools. "Promoting racially diverse learning environments ... will help cultivate the next generation of [science, technology, energy and math] leaders," Haffner said.

The center on Feb. 26 will show the 2020 film "The Falconer," written and directed by Annie Kaempfer, about Stotts, a former drug dealer whose life changed when he discovered his love of birds. The documentary also will be available from Feb. 24-28 on the center's website, www.jonesbeachenc.org/.

Connetquot River state park is offering several single-day programs, including "Pioneers in Science" on Feb. 13 and "Planet Explorers" on Feb. 25. The life and work of Brooklyn-born artist Jean-Michel Basquiat will be honored on Feb. 19 with a workshop in which participants will be invited to make self-portraits inspired by the painter's neo-expressionist style.

All programs require advance registration; information is available at the Connetquot park website, parks.ny.gov/parks/connetquotriver.

Janet Soley, president of nonprofit Friends of Connetquot River State Park Preserve, said the programs, together with Women's History Month events in March, help acknowledge the accomplishments of obscure American pioneers.

"It’s respectful, it’s historic," Soley said. "It’s important to appreciate our background, our heritage, where we come from, who we are."

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