A plastic foam cup tossed overboard will stay in the Bay for 50 years!

 

In the classroom


The future health of our environment will be in the hands of Maryland's youngest residents. It is essential that we provide them today with the natural education they will need to be effective environmental stewards tomorrow. Many educational programs are available for schoolchildren of all ages throughout the state.

 

Beyond the classroom

  • Bay Grasses in Classes: This exciting program was developed cooperatively by Maryland's Department of Natural Resources and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. It provides teachers with instruction, curricula and equipment that allow students to grow bay grasses in the classroom for transplantation to select areas of the Chesapeake Bay. Students learn the ecological importance of bay grasses, and by actively participating in bay grass restoration, they gain a sense of stewardship toward the Bay. In 1998, Bay Grasses in Classes students at 11 schools in five counties grew more than 3,500 plants that have taken root in the Patuxent and Patapsco rivers. The program will expand to 70 schools in 1999 with a goal of raising 100,000 plants that will be transplanted in other tidal portions of the Bay. For more information on Bay Grasses in Classes, contact Mike Naylor at 410-260-8630.
  • Teaching Environmental Awareness in Maryland (TEAM). This program provides extensive training and support for volunteers to deliver hands-on presentations on water quality to classrooms (grades 4-8). Call Elena Takaki at 410-260-8715.
  • Horseshoe Crab Project. This pilot project provides equipment, activity guides and juvenile horseshoe crabs to schools for students to learn the ecological, medical and historical importance of the vanishing species. Call Cindy Etgen at 410-260-8716.
  • Little Sheds Nitrate Net Project. The Living Classrooms Foundation, in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey, is linking schools in the Bay airshed to take measurements, make observations and contribute needed data for this pilot project. Call Robert Keddell at 410-685-0295.
  • Rain Garden Program. This pilot program encourages students to create a gently sloping collection area in the landscape of their school property to trap stormwater runoff, an alternative to curbs and gutters. The area, which is planted with native species of shrubs, plants and flowers, also creates habitat that attracts butterflies and small animals. Call Ron Gardner at 410-260-8813.
  • Green Schools. Introduced in 1999, this unique program establishes a model for environmental excellence. All Maryland schools are eligible to participate. Schools must demonstrate their achievement in three areas:
    • The environment is an integral part of the school's instructional program.
    • Environmental best practices are modeled at the school facility.
    • The school extends its learning about the environment into the community.

    For more information, please e-mail Carol Towle at ctowle@dnr.state.md.us.

 

Summer learning
Environmental education doesn't have to stop at the end of the school year. Many summer programs allow children to expand their knowledge of water quality and other natural resources issues.

Maryland's 4-H Natural Resources Camp, for example, gives teens an opportunity to explore environmental issues while enjoying the great outdoors. Over several days, campers between the ages of 13 and 17 learn about trail etiquette, forest management, the impact humans have on the environment and how they can help promote natural resource issues in their communities. Call the Maryland Cooperative Extension State 4-H Office at 301-403-4248 for more information.

Younger kids -- aged 7 to 13 -- can experience first-hand the joys of fishing, while learning about boating, water safety and conservation, through a unique program called Get Hooked on Fishing! Conducted by DNR in cooperation with county Drug Awareness Resistance Education (DARE) officers, the program gives children a chance to reel in their very first "big one," meet new friends, and explore outdoor activities as an alternative to drug use. Call 410-260-8809 for more information on free Get Hooked on Fishing clinics.

 

There's more!
Environmental organizations and government agencies offer many additional natural resource education opportunities for children. Look for the environmental education center in your area. You can also refer to the "In the Community" section for a short list or check the Tributary Teams Web site at www.dnr.state.md.us/Bay/tribstrat/index.html.

Envirothon… It's about youth
Young minds love a challenge --especially one that involves our environment.

Maryland offers teens a chance to test their environmental knowledge in the Envirothon, America's largest high school environmental contest.

Envirothon is a field-oriented program in which students work in teams with teachers and local and regional natural resource professionals to hone their knowledge of the state's natural resources. Training, which is conducted outdoors in natural settings, focuses on five subject areas: soils, aquatics, forestry, wildlife and a current environmental issue.

Students, in teams of five, compete at a 2- to 3-day State Envirothon each spring. Here their knowledge is challenged in a competition that emphasizes "hands-on" involvement with natural resources. The winning team then represents Maryland in a national competition held during the summer.

In recent years, Maryland teams have consistently placed in the top 10 percent at national competitions. Maryland's teams finishes include: 1st in 1993, 4th in 1994, 6th in 1995, and 2nd in 1996, 1997 and 1998.

For more information on how you can get involved in the Envirothon, call your local Soil Conservation District. Phone numbers are listed under county government headings in the blue pages of the phone book.


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