Founding Story

It all started when…

The Rewild Initiative had originally been founded by environmental analyst David Jakim in January 2017 with the aim to protect existing biodiversity and rewild public spaces to benefit wildlife at the Port Washington peninsula.

In the fall of 2018 a group of concerned citizens got together at the Port Washington Public Library and discussed urgent matters of local and immediate environmental and public health. ReWild Long Island was born out of that meeting to increase biodiversity in both public and private spaces using native plants.

In the Fall of 2018, ReWild Long Island started our first Fall Planting with seven Pioneer families joining together to ReWild their yards, guided by Landscape Architect Rusty Schmidt, Founder of Long Island Native Plant Initiative. In addition, ReWild Long Island drove two public ReWildings at Whitney Pond Preserve and Sands Point Preserve.

This effort was redoubled in Spring of 2018, when ReWild Long Island worked with 16 families to transform their yards with native plantings, while engaging 32 additional families who started adding natives to their existing gardens. In addition, ReWild Long Island was able to work with five public institutions on their ReWilding including a 1200 square foot planting at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Manhasset and The Science Museum of Long Island in Plandome.

ReWild Long Island is registered as a public Non-Profit with the New York State Division of Corporations and State Records.



Our Mission

Working with local community organizers and volunteers Rewild has now transformed a dozen public and privately owned spaces into lively habitats. And this is only the beginning...

What we´ve learned at Rewild is that it only takes a handful of like-minded to raise the awareness and inspire repair and restoration. Rewild is now ready to shift the cultural narrative away from perfectly maintained toxic spaces, towards responsibility and dedication to life-sustaining habits. It starts with the very ground of your being, the Earth you live on. 

Rooted in the soil we grow, we now have more than 50 families dedicated to creating earth-friendly habitats in their yards. 

You do not need to be an expert gardener to rewild your lawn. We are here to help you.

Anyone can do it,
Including you!

All you need to do is care for life.

Ready for a ground up transformation towards life-sustaining habits?


Staff Bios

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Annemarie Ansel

Growing up alongside her grandfather who had a farm in Queens, gardening became deep rooted in AnneMarie’s nature. As a member of the Green Sanctuary at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock she helped develop their Community Garden and taught Organic Gardening as well as various other gardening courses to members. AnneMarie Ansel worked as a Computer Programmer for the NYC Board of Ed., leaving the work force to raise her family. Using her front yard to teach neighbors about the importance of organic/pollinator/wildlife gardening and giving tours, it wasn’t long before she joined Rewild where she can complete her mission to reach a wider community.

AnneMarie serves as the Treasurer on the Board of ReWild Long Island.

David Jakim

David Jakim, M.S. Environmental Geoscience, M.A. Earth Science Education, Is a lifelong resident of Port Washington. Since 2012, Jakim has worked to protect special places and has done award-winning work in environmental analysis and conservation in Port Washington and in New York City with Queens College. Jakim founded and is Director of the ReWild Port Washington Initiative and the Port Washington Monarch Butterfly Alliance in 2017.

David serves as Chief BioDiversity Officer for ReWild Long Island.

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Hildur Palsdottir

Dr. Hildur Palsdottir received a PhD in Biochemistry from the Max-Planck Institute of Biophysics, where she studied Cellular Bioenergetics.

She worked as a research scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and New York University Medical School until she founded Sol Center in Port Washington in 2017. She is dedicated to mindful environmental stewardship and enjoys lecturing in schools and community centers about mindful and sustainable living. She contributes to the weekly Earth Matters column in the Island Now newspaper. Hildur is a certified mindfulness meditation instructor and educator, serves as President of the Board of Trustees for Science Museum of Long Island and is dedicated to bringing mindfulness and sustainability to STEAM education for all ages.

Hildur serves as Communications and Social Media Director on the Board of ReWild Long Island.

Raju Rajan

Raju Rajan is a technologist with a strong communitarian ethic. He came to the United States from India to obtain his PhD in Communication Networks at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has enjoyed a long career as researcher, consultant and architect in Information Technology. His strong entrepreneurial ethic has led him to found two IT start-ups, as well as a number of community groups aimed at organizing people for systemic change. He is currently active with Long Island Together, a progressive collective that organizes around education, immigration and social change, as well as ReWild, which brings native plants to public spaces and private yards. Raju resides in Port Washington, NY, with wife Sonia Arora who is an educator/community organizer, son Kabeera Singh, a Schreiber High School student, and cat, Lucky, who does nothing.

Raju serves as the President of the Board of ReWild Long Island.

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Pat valente

Pat is a resident of Manorhaven and a committed gardener and environmental advocate. A Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardener, she is an avid gardener who also knows that re-introducing plants that flourished on Long Island for thousands of years is important to the local environment. Pat has been the driving force behind the Manorhaven Nature Preserve located on Manorhaven Boulevard between the Port Washington Senior Citizens Center and Manorhaven Beach Park.

Pat Valente serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors of ReWild Long Island.