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Centro de Apoyo Familiar Connects Latino and Immigrant Communities with Prince George’s County Resources and Programs

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Centro de Apoyo Familiar engages Latino and immigrant communities in Prince George’s County, Maryland, with educational workshops and resources to promote environmental stewardship. 

Centro de Apoyo Familiar, or Center for Assistance to Families (CAF), is a nonprofit organization in Prince George’s County, Maryland. CAF aims to revitalize and transform Latino and immigrant communities through economic, social, and educational empowerment in collaboration with faith-based organizations.

In 2017, CAF received a grant award through the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program to conduct their Aguas Sanas Familias Sanas (Healthy Waters Healthy Families) program. This program engages and trains Latino church promotoras (community health promoters) to be stormwater leaders in their community. After the promotoras receive training, they then lead workshops to educate residents on local environmental issues, ways to address these issues, and County resources and programs.

For this project, CAF recruited three churches in Prince George’s County to participate in the program and a member from each was selected as the promotora. The promotoras participated in two training sessions to learn about stormwater, how it impacts their communities, and how community members can reduce its impact by installing rain barrels and other practices through the Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate Program.

The Rain Check Rebate Program provides an opportunity for homeowners, businesses, and others to help reduce stormwater runoff in the County and improve local waterways. Stormwater runoff is rain or melted snow that runs off impervious surfaces, such as parking lots and roofs, and flows across the land into storm drains and local waterways. As the runoff flows, it picks up and carries with it pollutants like pet waste and litter that negatively impacts our rivers and can have harmful effects on human health. Through the Rain Check Rebate Program, eligible applicants can receive a reimbursement for installing stormwater practices, like rain barrels, on their property. These stormwater practices help reduce stormwater runoff and its impacts.

To educate the promotoras and community members on this topic, CAF developed presentations and educational materials in Spanish for the training sessions and also provided these materials to the promotoras for distribution during workshops with community members. These workshops reached 141 Latino families and provided technical assistance to those interested in applying for the Rain Check Rebate Program.

Thank you to Centro de Apoyo Familiar for all you do to engage Latino and immigrant communities in environmental stewardship!

Project Highlight: National Wildlife Federation’s Sacred Grounds Program Engages Faith Communities

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National Wildlife Federation’s Sacred Grounds Program engages faith communities in environmental stewardship in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

The Sacred Grounds™ program creates a unique space for praise and celebration of nature’s wonders and empowers congregations of all faiths to connect to the Earth by gardening for wildlife and studying the teachings and texts of their faiths. As a result, people, the planet, and spiritual foundations flourish.

National Wildlife Federation

We are impacted by our natural resources and our natural resources are impacted by us. The key to improving the health of our waterways and our environment is to engage all residents in environmental stewardship. In recent years, the Chesapeake Bay Trust and many of our funding partners have worked to involve audiences in our grant programs that have typically been under-engaged in the past. In 2015, the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee identified three audiences that the Trust should focus on incorporating in our grant programs. These audiences include communities of color, faith-based communities, and the human health sector.

The Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program (a partnership between the Prince George’s County Department of the Environment and the Chesapeake Bay Trust), for example, has encouraged applicants to submit proposals that embrace diverse communities in environmental action projects. In 2017, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) received a grant award through this program to engage faith communities in Prince George’s County in environmental stewardship and clean water efforts. For this project, NWF partnered with Interfaith Power and Light and Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake to conduct their Sacred Grounds program in Prince George’s County.

NWF and their partners conducted three Sacred Grounds workshops with participants from 22 places of worship in Prince George’s County. The workshops educated residents about how faith doctrine of many denominations encourages environmental stewardship and local environmental issues, such as stormwater runoff and pollution. Community members also learned the benefits of creating wildlife habitat and implementing stormwater management practices on congregation grounds in order to address these issues.

NWF successfully recruited five congregations interested in achieving Sacred Grounds designation from the workshops. In order to be designated as a Sacred Ground, congregations must create wildlife habitat on their property, connect environmental stewardship to faith, and inspire community members to get involved with environmental action. In addition to achieving this designation, faith institutions in Prince George’s County are eligible to participate in the County’s Alternative Compliance Program. This program’s objective is to advance stormwater practices and increased citizen knowledge for cleaner, healthier congregations.

The inclusion of all residents in the ongoing effort to restore our natural resources and our communities impacts the success of this effort. Expanding the dialogue between diverse communities leads to new collaborations and identifies co-benefits of environmental and community projects.  All residents benefit from healthy natural resources, and, in turn, all residents have the opportunity to benefit natural resources.

Thank you to the National Wildlife Federation, Interfaith Power and Light, and Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, for all you do to engage the faith community in environmental stewardship!

Project Highlight: National Capital Region’s Watershed Stewards Academy

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Watershed Stewards Academy engages residents in watershed issues and solutions to improve communities and local waterways. 

The Watershed Stewards Academy empowers residents all across Maryland and the Washington metropolitan area to become environmental leaders in their community. The program equips participants with the knowledge, tools, and resources to improve their communities and improve local waterways.  

The Academy is offered in several counties in Maryland including Anne Arundel CountyCecil CountyHarford CountyHoward County, and St. Mary’s County. Specifically, the Anacostia Watershed Society leads the Academy for the National Capital Region. With support from a grant award through the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program, the Anacostia Watershed Society conducted the program for Prince George’s County during the spring and fall of 2018. During the program, participants learned about local environmental issues, specifically stormwater runoff and pollution, how to address these issues in their communities, and existing County resources and programs such as Rain Check Rebate.

The Stewards engage in a variety of service experiences, including the design and implementation of a capstone project that engages their community in reducing stormwater runoff. During the fall of 2018, the Prince George’s County Stewards participated in a replanting of two rain gardens at the Springhill Lake Recreation Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Rain gardens filter polluted runoff, protect streams from flooding and pollution, and attract and provide habitat for pollinators and birds.

Upon completion of the program, participants become certified Master Watershed Stewards. Stewards educate their community about local environmental issues and help reduce polluted runoff by coordinating the installation of rain gardens, rain barrels, and other practices in the community.

The Watershed Stewards Academy’s hands-on certification program provides Stewards with the tools to implement change in their communities. The Anacostia Watershed Society is currently looking for residents to join this year’s National Capital Region Watershed Stewards Academy. Apply today to become a certified Master Watershed Steward in your community!

 

Project Highlight: DuVal High School Courtyard Rain Garden

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DuVal High School in Prince George’s County, Maryland, installs a rain garden on campus to reduce stormwater runoff and provide an outdoor classroom for students.

According to the Educator’s Guide to the Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) , “the protection and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay watershed must be built on the collective wisdom of its citizens and this begins by building the environmental literacy of our youth.” To empower the next generation of environmental stewards, our schools must be equipped to educate our youth on current environmental issues and topics, such as stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff is the fastest growing source of pollution to the Chesapeake Bay and is often a major issue on school campuses. It can cause flooding and standing water, resulting in safety concerns and unusable outdoor learning space. The implementation of stormwater management practices, such as rain gardens, on school campuses has high demonstration and educational value. These practices allow teachers and students to investigate and study environmental topics right on their campus.

DuVal High School, in Lanham, Maryland, for example, installed a rain garden on campus through a grant award provided by the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program. The rain garden was designed by the Neighborhood Design Center, with staff and student input. Students, teachers, and volunteers planted over 200 native plants that were selected based on the light and soil conditions of the planting site, including black-eyed Susan, Maryland’s state flower. In addition to reducing stormwater runoff on campus, the rain garden is also used by the school as an outdoor classroom, where students can investigate and study water flow, stormwater management, native plants, pollinators, and more. The garden is also used by English and Art classes to inspire poetry and art.

Prior to the installation, DuVal students, teachers, and staff participated in workshops to learn about stormwater runoff, its impact on the health of local rivers and the Chesapeake Bay, and practices they could implement on campus to help improve the health of our waterways. With the help of community partners including the Prince George’s County Public School’s Schmidt Outdoor Education Center, Neighborhood Design Center, Prince George’s County Master Gardeners, and University of Maryland, DuVal staff and students learned how to maintain the rain garden and use it for educational purposes.

Stormwater management practices implemented on school campuses are instrumental tools in connecting our youth with environmental stewardship. They help teachers teach “beyond the textbook” and provide the opportunity for “high-quality teaching and learning by actively engaging students in building knowledge and meaning through hands-on experiences” (Educator’s Guide to the MWEE).

Congrats to DuVal High School for a successful project and thanks for helping teach our youth the value of our natural environment!

Project Highlight: Stormwater Management at Boyd Park in the Town of Cheverly

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The Town of Cheverly in Prince George’s County, Maryland, installs micro-bioretention areas to capture and treat stormwater runoff.

Many communities in Prince George’s County, Maryland, are taking action to improve water quality. For example, communities are installing stormwater management controls to reduce stormwater runoff and pollution to local waterways. When large volumes of stormwater runoff are carried to local streams, it can cause flooding and erosion. It can also wash away important habitat for critters that live in the stream. As stormwater runoff flows across paved surfaces, it picks up and carries with it many different pollutants such as oil and grease from cars, bacteria from pet waste, and trash from littering or improper disposal. Often, the polluted runoff flows directly into our streams and rivers through storm drains.

To reduce the impacts of stormwater runoff, the Town of Cheverly received a grant award through the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program for stormwater management at Boyd Park. Boyd Park is located in the Lower Beaverdam Creek subwatershed. This subwatershed is the most heavily industrialized within the Maryland portion of the Anacostia watershed. The park is municipally-owned with a playground, basketball and tennis courts, and a three acre nature and fitness trail, making this site a highly visible demonstration area for the installation.

The Town installed two micro-bioretention areas, also referred to as rain gardens, with over 200 native plants and planted 30 native trees in the park. These practices capture and treat stormwater runoff from the parking lot and adjacent roadway, removing pollutants from the water before it flows into local streams and rivers. In addition, native plants such as winterberry provides habitat and food for birds and native trees such as eastern redbud attract pollinators and provide shade. 

The site serves as a demonstration site, with interpretive signage that educates the community about the function of bioretention areas. It will also be used by the Prince George’s County Department of the Environment for Rain Check Rebate Contractor Training sessions. These sessions educate landscape professionals on how to plan, design, construct, and maintain rain gardens and other Rain Check Rebate practices.

During the planning process, the Town acknowledged the park’s existing design and the community’s desire to increase tree canopy. This resulted in a final design that maintains the integrity of the park’s existing design and strategically places the trees in most commonly used areas. These stormwater management practices support the County’s clean water efforts. Also, the native plants and trees add spring flowers and fall foliage to the landscape at Boyd Park.

Congrats to the Town of Cheverly for a successful project!

Ways to Give this Holiday Season

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Four Ways to Make and Impact for a Cleaner, Greener Watershed 

Each year, the Chesapeake Bay Trust provides resources to hundreds of communities throughout Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay watershed for projects big and small.

This means that people in your community are making a BIG difference for our waterways, our forests and parks, and our schools and neighborhoods with just a little bit of help from the Trust.

As we enter the holiday giving season, we are so thankful for supporters like you! We can’t do our work without your support!

Below are several ways that you can support the Trust this holiday season.

1. Make a Gift

Chesapeake Bay Trust supporters kicked off the holiday season with a bang on#GivingTuesday. Thanks to you we more than exceeded our Giving Tuesday goals!

But we still have a way to go to meet our goals for the year!

Gifts to the Chesapeake Bay Trust support projects to green local parks, add trees to urban neighborhoods, remove trash that chokes tiny streams, send students on life-changing outdoor experiences, and more.

You can make your gift to the Chesapeake Bay Trust this holiday season at www.cbtrust.org/make-a-gift.

2. Shop AmazonSmile

When you’re shopping for that perfect holiday gift—or even if you’re just stocking up on household goods—be sure to shop through Amazon Smile at smile.amazon.com/ch/52-1454182. When you do, Amazon donates a percentage of every purchase to the Trust! 

Checking items off your holiday to-do list and making a difference for the Bay has never been so easy!

3. Get Your Bay Plate

Did you know Chesapeake Bay license plates help restore the Chesapeake Bay and other natural resources of our region?

Simply by purchasing a Chesapeake Bay plate for only $20, car owners can show their support for the environment. Your contribution is distributed through the Trust in the form of grants to schools, community groups, and other not-for-profits for K-12 environmental education, restoration and protection of our waterways.

Learn more at www.bayplate.org and order your plate from the MVA here.

4. Contribute through the Maryland Outdoor Recreation and Clean Water Fund

Calling all boaters, hunters, and anglers! Did you know that when you obtain your registration or licenses through Maryland Department of Natural Resources Compass online registration system you can now make a contribution to support fish and wildlife habitat, clean water,wetlands, and K-12 student field trips. Donations to the new Maryland Outdoor Recreation and Clean Water Fund will be equally distributed as grants to not-for-profit entities through the Chesapeake Bay Trust and DNR, with an average of 95 cents of every dollar spent on programs.

Learn more about this new program here.

Please know that however you contribute to the Trust this holiday season, you are making a difference for a cleaner, greener, healthier watershed. And you can rest assured that your contribution will be used wisely for what you intended: 92 cents of every dollar we receive goes directly to projects and educational programs in the community.

Chesapeake Conservation Corps Profile: Jesus Munoz Buenrostro & Southeast Community Development Corporation

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This year we’re showcasing the unique experience of participating in the Chesapeake Conservation Corps by sharing profiles of each member of the 2018-2019 cohort along with information on their host site and descriptions of the work they’ll be doing. Corps members met their host site mentors and began their year of service in August 2018.

Jesus Munoz Buenrostro grew up in Baltimore and is currently a senior at the University of Baltimore, studying Environmental Sustainability and Human Ecology.

Last year, he served as a Legislative and Community Engagement intern with the Baltimore City Council, where he was able to advocate and gather support in Southeast Baltimore for the polystyrene ban. Most recently, he gained experience in the conservation field working for the National Aquarium as an Urban Conservation and Education intern, where he worked on restoration projects, invasive species management, and community outreach events with the National Aquarium, U.S Fish and Wildlife Services, and the Living Classrooms Foundation.

As a Chesapeake Conservation Corps member, Jesus is working with the Southeast Community Development Corporation (Southeast CDC), a nonprofit, community-based organization dedicated to growing and supporting a thriving socioeconomically and racially diverse Southeast Baltimore where residents share in the success and improvement of their communities.

Southeast CDC operates a number of community revitalization programs in the Highlandtown area of Baltimore, including partnering with a wide variety of environmental organizations, such as Blue Water Baltimore, the Parks and People Foundation, and the Chesapeake Bay Trust to reduce storm water runoff and increase the tree canopy in southeast Baltimore, offering Jesus the chance to work on community engagement events, environmental education, and conservation projects during his year of service.

Chesapeake Conservation Corps Profile: Kelly Peaks & Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland

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This year we’re showcasing the unique experience of participating in the Chesapeake Conservation Corps by sharing profiles of each member of the 2018-2019 cohort along with information on their host site and descriptions of the work they’ll be doing. Corps members met their host site mentors and began their year of service in August 2018.

Kelly Peaks graduated from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY, in May 2018, with a B.S. in Environmental Science with a concentration in Policy and a minor in music.

As a member of the Chesapeake Conservation Corps, Kelly is working with the Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland, which is one of ten University-based centers across the country providing communities with the tools and information necessary to manage change for a healthy environment and an enhanced quality of life.

Kelly is assisting with the Center’s Sustainable Maryland Program; a certification program for municipalities in Maryland that want to go green, save money, and take steps to sustain their quality of life over the long term.

In addition to assisting in the Sustainable Maryland certification process of select municipalities, Kelly will also assist with the pet waste program, developing new actions in the certification process, preparing small water systems resilience workshops, and preparing and hosting program events.

In 2019, Kelly hopes to build on her experience in the Chesapeake Conservation Corps by attending graduate school to study international issues related to climate change.

Chesapeake Conservation Corps Profile: Syler Merski & Friends of Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum

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This year we’re showcasing the unique experience of participating in the Chesapeake Conservation Corps by sharing profiles of each member of the 2018-2019 cohort, along with information on their host site and descriptions of the work they’ll be doing. Corps members met their host site mentors and began their year of service in August 2018.

Syler Merski is a recent graduate from Huntingtown High School, in Huntingtown, Maryland, where she specialized in Environmental Science.  Through her coursework, she recognized the need for quality environmental education opportunities for young students.

Through the Chesapeake Conservation Corps, Syler is working with the Friends of Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum (JPPM) to educate and promote the natural and cultural history of the southern Maryland region.

With her American Indian heritage, Syler hopes to bring a new and creative touch to the children’s events and educational programs on the park as well as with outreach programs in the community.  She aims to use her gardening experience to assist in maintaining gardens, and developing planted areas in an effort to help prevent areas of the park from eroding.

Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum is a 560-acre property along the Patuxent River which was donated to the State of Maryland in 1983 as a way to preserve the rich cultural and natural resources present on the land.  The mission of the organization is to connect people to the past through history and archeology, and support the preservation of Maryland’s cultural resources.

Syler is excited to assist with educational programs on such a diverse park along the scenic beaches of the Patuxent River. She is eager to gain first-hand teaching experience by supporting the park’s established programs for 4th and 6th graders in Calvert County Public Schools.  Syler will also gain field experience with biodiversity surveys and habitat monitoring projects on the park. However, Syler is most excited to spend her time in a place where she feels at home, and more importantly, where she’ll never truly have to “work” a day in her life.

Tips to Prepare Your Rain Check Yard for Winter

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Follow these five tips to winterize your stormwater management practices to ensure that they function properly for years to come.

Residents in Prince George’s County are dedicated to improving their communities and the environment by participating in the County’s Rain Check Rebate program. This program offers rebates to property owners in the County to install approved stormwater management practices. These practices reduce stormwater runoff and pollution to local rivers and can also beautify the property, reduce water costs, and reduce erosion, pooling, and flooding. After the installation of these practices and as winter approaches, it is important to inspect and maintain them periodically to ensure they will continue to function properly.

What is a Rain Check Yard?

A Rain Check Yard is a property that has installed one or more of the seven eligible practices. These practices include rain barrels, cisterns, urban tree canopy, rain gardens, pavement removal, permeable pavement, and green roofs. Rain Check Rebate participants can receive a yard sign (pictured above) to proudly display their commitment to keeping our waterways healthy and clean!

Five Tips to Prepare Your Rain Check Yard for Winter

In addition to the tips listed below, view the fact sheets and guidelines for each practice linked above for additional maintenance tips and suggested maintenance schedules.

1

Drain and disconnect rain barrels.

Water that is left in the rain barrel may freeze and cause damage to the barrel or downspout.
2

Remove leaves and debris.

Check your rain gardens and permeable pavement for leaves and other debris that may prevent runoff from flowing properly through the practice. Remove and dispose of the debris appropriately.
3

Apply a new layer of mulch.

Replenish mulch in your rain garden and trees with double shredded hardwood mulch for 2 to 3 inches of cover. Mulch helps maintain the temperature of the soil, encourages retention of moisture, and suppresses grass and weeds.
4

Use salt in moderation to melt ice.

Salt can be used in moderation to melt ice, but never use sand unless you have paving stones. Sand can cause clogging and reduce infiltration.
5

Water young trees.

Trees that have been in the ground less than three years require 25 gallons of water, or about 1.5 inches of rainfall, per week.
How Can I Participate?

Interested applicants must be the property owner and submit an online application. Once we receive your application, the Rain Check Coordinator, Bre’Anna Brooks, will contact you to set up a site visit. The project must be approved prior to installation, with the exception of rain barrel projects. After approval, the practice should be installed within 12 months. Once the project is complete, Bre’Anna will conduct a second site visit to ensure that the project followed the guidelines and criteria specified for the project type. The County will then review the project and provide a rebate (a partial or full refund) to the property owner. The refund amount is dependent on the type of practice installed, the property type, and final receipts/invoices. Learn about the projects and amount of rebates available by clicking on the “Learn More and Apply” button below.

To date, over 300 property owners in Prince George’s County have participated in the Rain Check Rebate program and are making a difference in keeping the County’s waterways healthy and clean!

The Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate program is a partnership between the County and the Chesapeake Bay Trust. The program is currently open and accepting applications on a rolling basis.