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Beth Yanuck-Platt, Smithtown HS West environmental science teacher, nature lover, dies at 60

Beth Yanuck-Platt, a science teacher at Smithtown High

Beth Yanuck-Platt, a science teacher at Smithtown High School West and a conservationist, died June 14 after a battle with brain cancer. She was 60.

Among the Redwood forests of California's northern coast, Beth Yanuck-Platt felt more at home than in her Centerport residence.

During a family trip to the forests, she had to stop at every grove between San Francisco and Crescent City, California, her husband, Jerry Platt, 63, said. It was an act that flowed from her love of the outdoors, a passion the Smithtown High School West teacher tried to instill in her students.

Yanuck-Platt, an Advanced Placement environmental science and biology teacher at Smithtown West, died at Hospice House in Northport on June 14 after a two-year battle with brain cancer. She was 60.

Nature always fascinated Yanuck-Platt. She grew up in Huntington and attended the State University of New York's College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse.

"I don't know what the hook was for her, but it was a strong one," Platt said. "Her passion was trees. Every tree that she saw, she loved."

She met Platt while working at a nature preserve in the Hudson Valley run by The Nature Conservancy. As a couple, they wanted to inspire a new generation of environmentalists, starting with their three children.

"She would be identifying birds by their appearance or their calls," said Yanuck-Platt's sister-in-law, Barbara Yanuck, 52, of Huntington. "She was a really fascinating person to spend time with."

At home in Centerport, Yanuck-Platt's garden included more than 250 species of plants. She taught at Smithtown High School West for almost two decades, leaving an impact on both her students and colleagues.

In 2012, Yanuck-Platt led a trip for Smithtown and Brentwood teachers to Costa Rica, and she was part of a Long Island group that helped rebuild Louisiana's eroded wetlands. She sought to bring her experiences to local conservation efforts and involve her students.

"When they see how much effort it takes to try to restore something, that makes us more sensitive to disturbing things in the first place," Yanuck-Platt told Newsday after the Louisiana trip in 2012.

Yanuck-Platt is also survived by her daughter, Mollie Platt, 31, of Lincolnton, North Carolina; twin sons Michael and Andrew Platt, 29, of Centerport; and brothers Robert Yanuck, 63, of Jackson, New Hampshire, and Scott Yanuck, 53, of Huntington.

A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. on June 28 at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Huntington. In lieu of flowers, friends and family can donate to and

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