Chesapeake Bay Trust Blog & News

Riverbea Community Salutes Neighborhood: “May the Forest Be With You”

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BEFORE: The Riviera Beach Community’s overgrown areas of land.

It is a problem faced by many homeowner associations; community common areas overtaken by invasive plant growth which seem to invade faster and cover more ground in a shorter amount of time than that spent maintaining our yards! This was the case for the Riviera Beach Community (RBC) subdivision in Pasadena, Maryland.  The land is owned by RBC and this tight-knit community is governed by two different community associations, Riverbea and Riviera Community Improvement Association.

Valuable community public space had essentially become unusable because of overgrowth, neglect, drainage issues, and trash. With an award through the Anne Arundel County Forestry and Forested Land Protection program, Riverbea was able to replace invasive foliage with native trees and plantings along the pathway to the shoreline, a semi-forested location within the watershed critical area. This project demonstrated the ability of neighbors to take an uncared-for lot and turn it into a beautiful and ecologically friendly environment.

Members of both organizations volunteered with clean-up and planting activities, working alongside local contractors and nurseries to ensure proper protection and support were in place for a successful project. Part of the project award includes a maintenance requirement to ensure upkeep management.

“We have come a very long way with invasive species control. Phragmites and bamboo have taken over a large portion of the site and it has been challenging keeping them from growing back,” said Michael Vaccarino, Riverbea’s vice president. “Support from neighbors has grown. We have removed over 5 truckloads of trash ranging from glass bottles to tires, bed frames, batteries, even bowling balls. There is a large pile of bamboo that has been cut as well as a pile of lumber and branches/ivy.”

AFTER: Riviera Beach Community regains use of a beautiful part of the neighborhood.

The goal of the Anne Arundel County Forestry and Forested Land Protection program is to implement cost-effective reforestation and greening projects and increase the number of acres of protected forested land in the County. By increasing tree cover and expanding green areas, erosion can be reduced; water and soil quality can be improved; airborne pollutants such as particulates, nitrogen oxide, and carbon monoxide can be filtered; and summer temperatures and resulting ozone pollution and energy use can be reduced.

By protecting forested land, valuable ecological services such as habitat, water quality, and flood control can be ensured for the future. And for Riverbea, regaining the use of a beautiful community area adds to the neighborhood quality of life, engages residents in their ability and desire to support healthy environmental habits, and reduces damaging toxins entering waterways.

Spotlight on an Environmental Champion

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Environmental leaders are all around us, even within our local communities. Tiaa Rutherford of the Prince George’s County Department of the Environment (DoE) is one such leader. Tiaa has worked tirelessly to beautify and protect the natural resources of the Prince George’s County communities. Recently, Tiaa was publicly honored for her environmental efforts.

Tiaa was recognized as a Regional Environmental Champion at the 2020 bi-annual Taking Nature Black conference hosted by the Audubon Naturalist Society for her work to reduce the amount of litter in the Anacostia River and the streams throughout the County. Her work also helps the County meet the goals of their stormwater discharge permit under the Clean Water Act. As the DoE’s Litter Reduction Program Manager, Tiaa engages individuals, non-profits, and municipalities on a variety of litter-reduction initiatives. Tiaa, along with other DoE colleagues, were recognized in 2017 for their work in creating the litter-monitoring apps LitterTRAK and PGCLitterTRAK. PGCLitterTRAK allows communities and individuals to document litter data around Prince George’s County.

Tiaa posing with the Anacostia River trash trap signage.

As a partner of Prince George’s County, the Chesapeake Bay Trust has had the chance to work with Tiaa on projects funded by the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program. In 2016, Anacostia Riverkeeper was approved for an award that funded the construction and installation of a “trash-trap” in the Arundel Canal of the Anacostia River. Tiaa was involved throughout the trash-trap installation process and provided outreach support to educate and engage County residents on the new installation. Currently, the Trust is working with Tiaa on a behavior-change litter reduction initiative.

Congratulations Tiaa, we look forward to continuing to work with you!

 

 

Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Awardees

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The Chesapeake Bay Trust, in partnership with Prince George’s County, is proud to announce the sixth year of Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program awards! The program supports projects that benefit neighborhoods while treating and controlling stormwater. The goal is to improve neighborhoods, improve water quality in the County’s local streams and rivers, and engage County residents in stormwater issues.

This year, a total of 14 projects were awarded a total of $979,056 to support stormwater projects that will engage 5,000 residents, treat over 11 acres of impervious surface, and plant over 1,900 trees and 11,000 native plants that will provide shade, cleaner air, and improve water quality. The awardees and their project descriptions are as follows:

Alice Ferguson Foundation: will install two stormwater retrofit practices within the barnyard area of the Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center. $140,000.
Anacostia Watershed Society:  will hold a Watershed Stewards Academy and Maryland Master Naturalist program that trains 60 watershed residents. $11,510.
Anacostia Watershed Society: will improve habitat and water quality along the Anacostia River using mussels, floating wetlands, and trees. $23,453.
Central Kenilworth Avenue Revitalization Community Development Corporation, Inc.: will plant 300 trees in the Greater Riverdale and Bladensburg neighborhoods. $134,031.
City of Hyattsville: will promote the importance and benefits of trees by implementing a Tree Canopy study and providing resources to residents to plant trees. $60,762.
City of Mount Rainier: will develop 11 green infrastructure practices to reduce stormwater runoff impacts and support making the City of Mount Rainier a model “green city.” $196,000.
EcoLatinos, Inc.: will carry out an outreach campaign to increase awareness of stormwater runoff and its impact on water quality among Spanish-speaking residents. $18,993.
EcoLatinos, Inc.: will lead the “Festival del Rio Anacostia 2020,” where more than 800 attendees can participate in environmental related activities. $23,694.
End Time Harvest Ministries: will engage residents in a clean water initiative educating surrounding neighborhoods on stormwater problems and possible solutions. $31,163.
Global Health and Education Projects, Inc.: will plant 200 trees through the Family Tree Adoption Program in high-priority areas of Prince George’s County that have low tree canopy. $115,969.
GreenTrust Alliance, Inc.: will add 5.5 acres of forested and warm season grass/ pollinator-focused headwater buffer to an existing stream and wetland restoration project at the USDA Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. $50,000.
Town of Cheverly: will design and implement a rain garden in the Cheverly Town Park. $54,954.
Town of Edmonston: will implement the fourth industrial “green street” located in the district of Lafayette Place. $68,527.
University of Maryland College Park: will develop a water quality action framework and outreach campaign for homeowner/community association boards, property managers, and residents. $50,000.

Congratulations to all the awardees, we look forward to working with you!

For a Healthy Bay – Let Grasses Stay!

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Are you one of the 260,000 recreational boaters chomping at the bit to get on the Chesapeake Bay this year? It is purported that everyone in the Chesapeake Bay watershed is six degrees away from a boat owning friend with the promise of sunset sails, crab house cruises, and weekend raft-ups.

But there’s an economy behind the recreation as well; Maryland fisheries and watermen, all rely on strong fish populations that keep seafood healthy, economies strong, and ecotourism flourishing. At the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s January Legislative Reception kicking off the 2020 Maryland General Assembly, Senate President Bill Ferguson reminded the room that “the (Chesapeake) Bay is the most important thing we have in the state of Maryland. It is the commerce hub and is where we have the birth of our future experiences.” This all takes a toll on the ecosystems working to keep the Bay healthy and habitable for underwater life.

One such ecosystem partner is submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) providing benefits such as carbon sequestration (removing excess carbon from our waterways), erosion prevention through sediment stabilization (keeping sediment in place due to their strong root system), buffering from land-based sources of pollution through runoff filtering, and provision of food and habitat for marine and aquatic species. The Chesapeake Bay is reliant upon flourishing and healthy SAV; however, it is negatively impacted by excessive boat traffic. Propeller scars from traveling in shallow banks, bursts that excavate sediment creating holes, and displaced sediment choking the shores and washing over SAV, are the typical types of damage wreaked underwater.

Since 2016, The Ocean Foundation (TOF); dedicated to restoring, conserving, and financing natural coastal infrastructure by cultivating social entrepreneurs and working with decision-makers to affect systemic change, has partnered with several Chesapeake Bay communities including ShoreRivers to study and implement behavior change campaigns with the boating population. Through the Trust’s Outreach and Restoration and Community Engagement grant programs, they’ve conducted extensive surveying and studying of the attitudes and ideals of boaters to determine the values and social thinking that influence behavior to maximize the outreach messaging to create and affect behavioral change. Through online/phone surveying, intercept studies, and observation operations at high volume recreational boating areas, TOF developed a social marketing campaign, trainings, and messaging collateral to inform and offer solutions to boating practices. Examples of nondestructive behaviors include turning off motors and using poles to navigate shallow seagrass beds and waiting for high tides to enter low areas.

Evaluating pre- and post-campaign SAV health is the best determination of project impact utilizing monitoring program data specific to grasses. The success of this replicable data-driven project has led to further upcoming campaigns in other Chesapeake watershed areas this summer with partners such as Arundel Rivers Federation, Havre de Grace Maritime Museum, Magothy River Association, and Severn River Association all of whom will monitor for the health of SAV near participating marinas and positive attitude and behavior changes. “We hope that this reminder of the importance of grasses to a healthy bay inspires boaters to boat responsibly in shallow waters,” says Ocean Foundation grants and program manager, Alyssa Hildt.

The Chesapeake Bay Program has a target to sustain and increase SAV presence, with the ultimate goal of reaching 130,000 acres, a 40,000-acre improvement from 2017. With continued education, partnership monitoring, and community engagement, utilizing the full boating season with the expansion of signage, and messaging materials, the future looks greener for life under the sea.

Side Effect to a Healthy Bay: Becoming Happier and Healthier People!

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The Trust has a vision that the Chesapeake Bay and local watersheds are healthy and safe, our waters are fishable and swimmable, local communities benefit from healthy resources, and everyone participates in restoring and protecting natural resource treasures.

You may have seen the recent Cornell University article touting the benefits of stress reduction from spending time in nature. Further research shows a positive link between time spent outdoors and human health, as evidenced by such efforts and programs as the ParksRx program in Washington D.C. where doctors prescribe time in parks to patients; by the construction of green spaces and courtyards in hospitals nationwide; and by outdoor time as part of anti-obesity programs for children.  While there are numerous studies (e.g., the Japanese study of shinrin-yoku, or the study of the impacts of greening on crime and mental health in housing projects), sometimes anecdotal evidence is more powerful.  Here are examples of projects the Trust has funded modeling holistic health alongside environmental improvements.

MedStar Harbor Hospital:  Green Infrastructure in Protecting Public and Environmental Health (South Baltimore, MD)
Medstar Harbor Hospital – with the Chesapeake Bay Trust and Trust partners – the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program, and Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources – designed nine bioretention facilities identified in a green infrastructure master plan. Bioretention systems are planted depressions that collect, filter, and slow stormwater runoff while enhancing the natural beauty and environmental health of the campus. These systems will collectively treat almost five million gallons of stormwater runoff every year and adding natural green space to improve the physical and mental health of hospital patients, employees, and the community.

Waterfront Partnership: Healthy Bodies and Clean Water: Canoeing and Kayaking with Baltimore’s Premier Environmental Stewards (Baltimore, MD)
Baltimore City’s Recreation and Parks Department partnered with three of Baltimore City’s premier environmental advocacy groups, Blue Water Baltimore, The Parks and People Foundation, and The Waterfront Partnership, to provide a tangible connection to local waterways in a fun, active activity (kayak/canoe) with the Baltimore City Recreation and Parks’ Summer Kayak and Canoe Program. The program increased citizen ownership and responsibility of local waterways by engaging a wide and diverse audience in the effort and conveyed to participants the benefits of personal health, such as exercise, are connected to and inform us about the overall health of the Bay. 

Talisman Therapeutic Riding, Inc:  Talisman TheraBay Trails Program  (Grasonville, MD)
The Talisman TheraBay Trails program supports veteran’s therapeutic programs and an annual Veteran’s Victory Garden.  The Talisman Therapeutic Riding’s “Talisman TheraBay Trails” program has helped to increase stewardship of land and water resources by incorporating watershed education curriculum into year-round programs, summer camp initiative, volunteer training materials, and annual Veteran’s Victory Garden.  The objectives were to increase understanding of Talisman’s Farm location within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, and how the agricultural, conservation, human and horse behaviors that occur on the Farm impact the watershed. 

Channel Marker, Inc.:  Rain Garden and Rain Barrels at a Mental Health Wellness Center (Talbot County)
Channel Marker, a mental health services organization, installed a rain garden, rain barrels, and informational signage at their new Regional Wellness Center for youth and adult clients to treat stormwater runoff from the building that flows into the Miles Watershed; engage clients in an environmental action project promoting environmentally conscious behaviors, and create a positive connection between watershed health and human health.

After

Before

University of Maryland Medical System Foundation:  Druid Heights Green Space Project (Baltimore, MD)
The University of Maryland Medical System Foundation, in coordination with the Druid Heights Community Development Corporation, renovated a vacant property in the Druid Heights community of Baltimore City.  The renovated space now serves as a public green space helping to improve neighborhood health and well-being while also providing much-needed wildlife habitat.  The objectives of this project were to form meaningful partnerships and engage community residents in a restoration project that will decrease stormwater pollution and educate community members about the connection between environmental and human health.

Global Health and Education Projects, Inc.:  Communities Organized for Health and Environment (Washington, D.C./Metro Area)
Global Health and Education Projects, Inc. established the “Communities Organized for Health and Environment” project which included a tree adoption program, Anacostia Trail cleanup, outdoor physical activity, and a health and environment day workshop. This program provided outreach to minority and underserved residents fostering involvement in environmental solutions and natural resources restoration. This effort connected individuals with how outdoor activities can improve both environmental and personal health.

The Johns Hopkins Hospital Green Team (Baltimore, MD)
The Johns Hopkins Hospital Green Team, in conjunction with The Living Classrooms Foundation and an East Baltimore Community, completed a storm drain stenciling project and a litter reduction effort to beautify the neighborhood and to prevent trash from entering local waterways. This project brought awareness and education to the community about environmental issues, sustainable living, and making better choices to create a healthier lifestyle.

The Trust works with many funding partners to collaboratively support natural resource projects in several key topic areas: education, restoration, community engagement, and science and innovation. One of our key goals is to reach under-engaged audiences: people who might not realize they are connected to healthy natural resources but are.  We want to give these audiences the voice and power to protect and restore what will ultimately care for them. Find out more about all the grant opportunities we offer here and make an excuse to get outdoors!

Wellness Ambassadors of End Time Harvest Ministries Take Action

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End Time Harvest Ministries Reverend and CEO, Gail Addison, touches on the successes of this tree planting and environmental literacy project, which was funded by the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program.

Empowering residents to take action is an essential piece of the puzzle when it comes to the protection and restoration of our natural resources. The Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program, in partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Trust, awards grants to organizations that engage County residents in the restoration and protection of local rivers, which ultimately boosts the health of their neighborhoods.

End Time Harvest Ministries (ETHM), located in Bladensburg, Maryland is a faith-based organization with a mission that includes empowering youth to become leaders in their neighborhoods. One way that ETHM meets this goal is through their Wellness Ambassadors program, offering youth a variety of activities that promote health and wellness.

ETHM was awarded a grant in 2017 to conduct a Wellness Ambassadors Environmental Health Summer Employment Program. This program aimed to boost environmental literacy by connecting local stormwater management to the health and wellness of students and their families in the Port Towns, Kenilworth, and Riverdale neighborhoods. The Ambassadors participated in tree planting activities that were led by the Central Kenilworth Avenue Revitalization Community Development Corporation (CKAR CDC) and supported by the University of Maryland (UMD) and the Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS). A total of 15 native trees were planted at an Edmonston Road site, an area selected by CKAR CDC for revitalization.  Students and their families also participated in a workshop held by AWS on the importance and benefits of trees in managing stormwater runoff.

Do you want to build a healthy neighborhood, too? Plant a tree! Trees help manage stormwater runoff by taking up greater amounts of stormwater through their roots (compared to a grass-only lawn), which filters out pollutants and reduces the amount of pollution that reaches our local waterways. Trees also filter polluted air and have the added benefit of making communities quieter by absorbing sound. Picking native trees to plant is especially important because they provide food and habitat for native wildlife and they require less maintenance.

This tree planting project boosted environmental literacy and gave students and families the opportunity to take part in hands-on learning experiences that positively contributed to their environment and overall health. Congratulations to End Time Harvest Ministries on a successful and engaging project!

I Just Spent a Year Without Buying Plastic. You Can Too.

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This blog was originally submitted by Dr. Jana Davis, executive director for the Chesapeake Bay Trust, to the Capital Gazette newspaper where it ran as in the opinion column on February 16th.

It may sound impossible, but I can say, as a (somewhat) normal person, it’s very possible to reduce buying plastic by 90% with very limited impact on lifestyle. Why did I try this? I looked down one day at my dollar-store plastic flipflop

s and thought: “These Ridiculous. Pink. Things. Will be in a landfill for billions of years.” I had also heard that there is almost more plastic in the oceans than fish and saw an image of a starved albatross on a deserted island with a stomach filled with plastic. I decided I could do something.

I, perhaps like you, am not a “super greenie.” I am not only not a vegan, I’m not even a vegetarian (gasp!). I don’t drive an electric car; I don’t even drive a hybrid (shame!). I don’t do yoga, though I respect people who bend that way. I love the dollar store, despite that it is filled with plastic. I’m just a normal person (except for the dollar store thing).

So, if I can do this, so can you. Over the last year, I kept using plastic I already owned, but I didn’t purchase new plastic.

Here’s how:

Easy: You can still buy many items in regular stores with little extra effort. Examples: eggs (cardboard), yogurt (Oui brand in glass), ice cream (Turkey Hill doesn’t have a plastic layer lurking inside), produce (some groceries offer Brussel sprouts and mushrooms loose, not in packaging), spinach (frozen in cardboard). Cleaning supplies: Even regular stores, if you search, offer one brand of powder detergents in cardboard boxes.

Hard but not impossible: Cheese, meat, fish. Dust off your negotiating skills. You’ve got to order from the counter and gently convince them to wrap your stuff in paper. Some like the challenge. Some think you’re crazy. If they don’t have paper, offer them a container you brought from home or tinfoil.

You may have to get creative with toiletries. The store Lush sells shampoo bars with no packaging (work great), conditioner bars (work less great), and some kind of beeswax product for those of us who need mane taming (works OK, but my standards have lessened). For those who can’t wrap their minds around rubbing a bar on their heads, Plaine Products online ships liquid stuff in metal containers.

Tooth care is tougher. Apparently, it’s pretty easy to make your own toothpaste, but I don’t cook so I’m certainly not going to try some chemistry experiment I can’t eat. Nelsons Naturals ships glass toothpaste jars that don’t cost that much more than college tuition. (The taste takes some getting used to.) For other items, try packagefreeshop.com.

Impossible to date: Super processed snack stuff. (It isn’t good for you anyway.) A few brands have a paper or foil outside packaging and paper inside (e.g., Pepperidge farm Milano cookies). Hair dye (the Henna stuff just doesn’t cover grays. If I needed that sort of thing). Clothes (much of the microplastic in the oceans comes fr

Photo for this blog provided by Plastic Free QAC: a grassroots, non-profit organization committed not only to beautifying Queen Anne’s County, but also in changing behavior and empowering residents and businesses to make more environmentally friendly choices day to day. Click on picture to enlarge.

om synthetic fabric). Look for cotton.

Eating out: I can’t count how many times I have said: “May I please have a water with no straw” in the past year. (Let’s be honest: It was “Vodka cran, no straw.”) I carry around with me a little set of bamboo utensils, and yes, it feels weird. You get to know which restaurants serve sides in unnecessary plastic containers and which you can ask to refrain from that, and how to still eat out but not result in an albatross stomach’s worth of plastic trash. For leftovers, ask for a piece of tinfoil.

If you want to start with just one thing, start with grocery bags. Plastic grocery bags are the worst; they really don’t get recycled, and they blow all over and end up in rivers.

Yes, I know: You left your reusable bags in the car. One day, as I was lamenting this great conundrum at the checkout line, I realized: Wait a minute. I walked into the store from my car in less than a minute. It isn’t a hike along the Appalachian Trail. But – someone might – steal my cart! Someone could look at my cart’s contents and realize “Holy cow! What an amazing shopper! This selection is SO much better than my own! I’m taking this cart!”

But you know, it’s not actually my food yet anyway. So, you could — just a suggestion — go BACK to your car to get your reusable bags.

This really isn’t as hard as you might think: It just takes a little getting used to and some changing of habits.

But my year is up, and I think there is only one thing I am adding back in: Hair dye.

Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate: A Year in Review

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A property owner proudly displays a Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate yard sign on their property to showcase their new permeable pavement walkway and participation in the program.

Residents of Prince George’s County, Maryland, are doing their part for a clean, healthy, and beautiful Prince George’s County. For six years, the Prince George’s County Department of the Environment has partnered with the Chesapeake Bay Trust to administer their Rain Check Rebate Program. This program provides eligible applicants the opportunity to receive a rebate, or reimbursement, for installing stormwater management practices. The seven approved practices include rain barrelscisternsurban tree canopy, rain gardens, pavement removalpermeable pavement, and green roofs. Each of these practices help reduce stormwater runoff and improve the quality of rivers in the County. These practices also have the added benefit of beautifying the property.

We are excited to announce that Fiscal Year 2019 for the Rain Check Rebate Program was another successful year with 91 approved applications, representing 180 projects, totaling $79,035 in rebates. These projects help treat 59,194 square feet of impervious surface, which is slightly larger than the size of a football field! Each of these projects has a hand in keeping our rivers clean and healthy by filtering the polluted runoff before it enters into our rivers.

This program is a no-brainer if you are considering any of the green initiatives they cover, which run the gamut. The process of applying for a rebate was so much easier and more straightforward than we expected. Good stuff by Prince George's County and the Chesapeake Bay Trust!

Val and Daniel
Prince George's County Property Owners

Stormwater runoff is a major issue in urban areas nationwide. It occurs when rainwater flows across impervious surfaces such as roofs, parking lots, and roads, that do not allow the water to soak into the ground. As it flows across these 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. The practices mentioned above help reduce the amount of runoff and pollution that enters local waterways.

Thank you to all of the residents who have participated in the Rain Check Rebate Program throughout the years! This program would not be a success without your support and participation!

Fiscal Year 2019 By the Numbers

91
Approved Applications
79,035
Rebates Awarded
180
Projects Installed
59,194
Sq. Ft. of Impervious Area Treated

The Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate Program is currently open and accepting applications on a rolling basis.

Learn More and Apply

Plastic Free QAC Has Long Term Plans to Eliminate Single-Use Plastic

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Plastic Free QAC, Inc. let no grass grow under their feet when awarded a Community Engagement Mini-Grant last November through the Chesapeake Bay Trust for a series of informational events regarding the effects of plastic pollution on waterways and reusable bags as better alternatives to plastic.

Plastic Free QAC (PFQAC) is grassroots, non-profit organization committed not only to beautifying Queen Anne’s County but also in changing behavior and empowering residents and businesses to make more environmentally friendly choices day to day. Only in existence for 2 years, they started with a handful of trash cleanups along county roads and waterways and grew to reusable bag distribution events throughout the County and partnerships with environmentally friendly businesses, other local non-profits. PFQAC conducted 16 monthly cleanups, each 1/4 mile in length, adding up to 4 miles. A total of 944 plastic bags were collected and counted from the 8 most recent cleanups.

Their award through the Chesapeake Bay Trust Community Engagement Mini-Grant program (their first-ever grant-supported project) gave PFQAC the chance to build an outreach plan committed to raising awareness of the detrimental impacts of single-use plastics and sustainable options available through supermarket events; tabletop presentations at churches, libraries, and community centers; trash clean-ups; and hands-on art activities to engage children. All of the educational and tabletop materials produced through this grant provide the foundation for the organization’s future efforts throughout the County.

One of the big issues to be addressed when applying for this Trust grant program is the replication or interpretation of a project in other areas of the watershed to enable other groups in other areas to leverage ideas. PFQAC strongly noted already valuable lessons learned including the importance of strong partnerships with local nonprofits, use of powerful visuals such as pictures and videos, sound research on purchasing costs, messaging tailored to specific audiences, methods for recruitment of volunteers, expanded outreach using social media and a variety of other communications tools, as well as effective record keeping and data collection.

PFQAC is experienced in organizing and completing environmental projects and you may have seen them at 2019 Kent Island Day, 2019 Sea Glass Festival at Chesapeake College, Rotary Club presentations, the Kent Island Federation of the Arts, or the Chester Safeway.

PFQAC also participated in the Community Engagement Mentorship Program working with ShoreRivers in defining project goals and capacity, organizing project budgets, and working through the Trust’s online grant portal system.

And they aren’t stopping there! This small but mighty group have outlined 10 initiatives for 2020 which include tackling heavy issues like surveying and researching boat shrink-wrap recycling and marina practices; expanding partnership opportunities with environmental clubs and area schools; working with the Maryland Department of the Environment to encourage businesses to join the Green Registry; and encouraging restaurants to adopt straw-upon-request platforms and install biodegradable product practices.

We are pleased to share their promotional video, created by PFQAC creative videographer Julie Shaeffer, here.

Learn more and to get involved with Plastic Free QAC here.

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!