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The Trust Welcomes the New Year with a New Member

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By Kristina Arreza
Chesapeake Bay Trust Communications Intern

After completing an internship with the Trust, Katherine Somoza joins the Program team as Restoration Program Assistant. Katherine shares her story on why she decided to continue pursuing a career at the Trust after her internship working with the Rain Check Rebate Program (RCR) ended.

The Annapolitan graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, a year early with a B.S. degree in Biology. “I intended to pursue Pre-Med after undergrad, but I realized throughout my college career that it wasn’t the direction I wanted to take. I decided to look for any experience that was somewhat related to biology.”

How did you hear about this internship?

“I found out about this position on UMBC’s career database. Since I was already drawn to non-profits, I found the position for a Rain Check Rebate Intern, saw it was close to home and applied right away.”

What did you like most about the Rain Check Rebate Internship?

“I liked that it was local. It’s a program for Prince George’s County and is funded by the Prince George’s County Clean Water Fee. The concept of money being redirected back to the residents is something I am proud to work towards. My supervisor Bre’Anna Brooks was a great leader and mentor for me. A month into training, she gave me the reigns on the application process, pre- and post-site visit protocols, and reaching out to residents.” Somoza interned with the Trust from September 2019-December 2019. “It’s a very unique experience. The site visits were my favorite since I was able to have hands-on experiences bonding with the residents of Prince George’s County, and educating them about environmental practices they can use in their own homes.”

What made you want to pursue a career as Restoration Program Assistant at the Trust?

“I really enjoy the office culture and environment. The tasks I have are very hands-on, whether it be as an intern or a Restoration Program Assistant.” Somoza shares that her current position is a lot different from her internship, but there is always bound to be an overlap when programs and projects come into play. As a former intern that focused on outreach and engagement, Somoza shares that the position carries a lot more responsibility in finance as well as assisting the restoration and education department team members. “Having the internship is a strength because you know the dynamics between departments and can utilize that to work together.” Somoza reports to Sadie Drescher who leads restoration programs that include implementation projects, research efforts, and innovative county watershed and citizen engagement grant programs.

It says in your bio that you intend on pursuing a Master’s degree. Is that still on the table for you?

“Yes, I miss school and I enjoy learning. Although I’m still in the process of deciding what to pursue, I know that I want to involve either the environmental or public health realm or possibly an intersection between the two. A perk about working here is that you get to review a lot of applications for grants and programs. I’m hoping they will guide me towards what to do next.”

Is there any advice that you’d like to give for future interns at the Trust?

“I would advise future interns, specifically those who are working with the Rain Check Rebate program, to stay organized. There are so many transitions and in between all of them, there’s a risk that an applicant can fall through the cracks and you don’t want to deprive them of something like the RCR program. You need to be mindful of those. Also, make the most of the pre- and post-site visits! It’s a great teaching opportunity and a great way to share and educate others about it.” Somoza also advises applicants to “keep an open mind. Sometimes when applying, people have specific goals or positions they want. If I stuck to my specific goals, then I would have missed out on this opportunity. Be flexible! Open minds lead to greater opportunities. And lastly, do your research. If you have a pool of many interests, see if they fit with the culture you are going to be a part of.”

Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Katherine!

Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church Reforests Woodlands

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By Kristina Arreza
Chesapeake Bay Trust Communications Intern

On an overcast Thursday morning, volunteers from the Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church (WMPC) in Severna Park, Maryland, prepared for the planting of 176 native trees, shrubs, and plants across the church’s woodlands by digging all of the holes and placing all plants into their properly assigned locations. Located between Sunset Assisted Living and WMPC, this Anne Arundel Watershed Stewardship Capstone Project is led by Steward candidate Frank Goetschius (pictured left with Bob Royer, WMPC Property Management). The volunteers included members of the REHABS (REtired HAndyperson Breakfast Society) as well as the gardener’s group from the church.

On the designated planting day, more than 75 volunteers showed up representing more than 12 community organizations including the Magothy River Association, the Watershed Stewards Academy (WSA), Baywise volunteers, Maryland Master Gardeners, Severna Park High School, Broadneck High School, Boy Scouts Troop 339, Girl Scouts Troop 184, local community gardening clubs, and multiple WMPC church groups. With the help of Watershed Steward Alison Milligan as their advisor, the volunteers were able to reforest the woodlands with native trees, such as Red Oak, Chestnut Oak, Red Maple, American Holly, Redbud, Flowering Dogwood, and Sweet Bay Magnolia alongside the existing Elm, Oak, Sweet Gum, and Black Gum trees. These new plantings will aid in the reforestation process by returning the woodland to when the church was founded 100 years ago. “The goal is to promote vegetation, maximize diversity of forestry, and create a lush area that will be a resource for wildlife,” said Mr. Goetschius. The tree planting project is intended to prevent stormwater runoff from entering onto roadways and into storm drains the directly flow into Cypress Creek on the Magothy.

“Earlier this year, Woods Church launched its “Woods has Gone Native “ initiative, planting hundreds of native, pollinator-friendly plants in the church grounds bringing about a remarkable transformation with the return of numerous butterflies and bees,” said Mr. Bob Royer. “You have to care for the creation around you by planting the native trees and plants that support the populations of birds, butterflies, and other pollinators.”  The members of the church gardening group made labels to help the public who visit become familiar with the diversity of native plants available so they can plant these in their own gardens.

This project was funded by the Trust’s Anne Arundel County Community Planting Mini-Grant Program. In partnership with the Anne Arundel County Forest Conservancy District Board, the program funds tree planting and tree canopies in communities, neighborhoods, and parks throughout Anne Arundel County. The goal of this grant fits perfectly with the WMPC’s project; to raise awareness of the health of our region, tree canopy, watersheds, air quality, streams, rivers, and the Bay. Additional organizations such as Unity Gardens and WSA have also provided grants to make this project possible. WMPC was certified by the University of Maryland Extension Baywise Program in 2018, a program that teaches simple, bay-friendly lawn and gardening practices so homeowners can help preserve the land and waterways within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  The project will be completed by mid-October.

Watch this fantastic video coverage by Chesapeake Bay Magazine in a recent Bay Bulletin story here.