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Chesapeake Conservation Corps Profile: Aubryn Walters & the Patuxent Research Refuge

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Aubryn Walters stands with her poster at the annual Chesapeake Watershed Forum.

Participating in the Chesapeake Conservation Corps is a unique experience. We’re showcasing the individual Conservation Corps members in the 2019-2020 cohort along with information on their host site and descriptions of the incredible work they are doing. 

One of the biggest challenges in the mission to responsibly manage and protect our environment is engaging people and equipping them with the right tools and knowledge. Oftentimes, there is a shortage of people who have had the chance to study and understand the issues at hand, and develop the skills necessary to implement solutions.

The Chesapeake Conservation Corps (Corps) strives to close the gap by connecting young adults to nonprofit or government agencies for one-year terms of service in the Chesapeake Bay region. The 2019-2020 Cohort consists of 35 young adults working with 29 different organizations.

One of these Corps members, Aubryn Walters, is currently placed with the Patuxent Research Refuge in Prince George’s County. Below is Aubryn’s reflection on her experience thus far.

Aubryn Walters, Chesapeake Conservation Corps member, pictured here with Mr. Hoots from Rodney’s Raptors, at the Patuxent Research Refuge.

How are you enjoying your first few months in the program?

I’ve really enjoyed working with the Patuxent Research Refuge. The staff is committed to educating the public, putting in the extra hours, and creating engaging programs for everyone who visits. I have learned so much, from how refuges function, to how to create an effective program.

What is your favorite part about working with the Patuxent Research Refuge?

My favorite part about working with the refuge is interacting with and educating the public to help them create a better environment for themselves and the wildlife living in their community.

What are you excited to work on this year at the Refuge?

I am most excited about working with Montpelier Elementary School. They are putting on a yearlong watershed project, with funding from the Chesapeake Bay Trust. They are creating a rain garden and a bio-retention pond to treat runoff from their school. I am supplementing the learning that goes along with that, by working with the fifth grade to teach them about watersheds. We have been working together for five weeks, learning about what watersheds are, how to map their watershed, how land use affects water, and how to measure water quality. The fifth graders then had the chance to come to Patuxent, where they conducted water quality tests and went on a tram tour themed around the water system we have in place. They are enthusiastic and wonderful students, and I am excited to see them learn and grow throughout the year.

Thank you, Aubryn, for helping to educate the next generation of environmental stewards in Prince George’s County!

Blogging About Plogging

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We’re showcasing the unique experience of participating in the Chesapeake Conservation Corps by sharing profiles of Corps members of the 2019-2020 cohort along with information on their host site and descriptions of the work they have been doing.

Karlis Grauze (right in picture) is a recent graduate of the University of Maryland with a degree in Philosophy. He has previous experience working with Howard EcoWorks, Anacostia Watershed Society, and the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Karlis joins the 10th-anniversary Chesapeake Conservation Corps cohort position with Patapsco Heritage Greenway (PHG). PHG aims to preserve, protect, and restore the environment history, and culture of the Patapsco River Valley. Karlis will lead GIS work about the Patapsco River Valley to help engage the Spanish-speaking community who use Patapsco Valley State Park, help with environmental stewardship events, and educational outreach to local schools.

In support of his host site’s outreach mission, Karlis helped introduce plogging to the popular Patapsco Trail Fest which took place mid-September.  The concept of plogging is still relatively new to the United States. It evolved from the European #plogga or #plogging and derives from the Swedish “Plocka upp” and jogging. Plogging combines the recreational act of jogging/running (or even hiking) with environmental stewardship (i.e. picking up trash) along the way. The weekend combines many different events including mountain biking, climbing, paddling, hiking, and trail runs, as well as many other recreational and stewardship activities for adults and families alike, making it the perfect test “plog” for the concept.

PHG is the ideal organizing partner focusing on the overall participation and enjoyment of all partakers representing all the user groups of Patapsco Valley State Park. Advanced planning for the event included mapping a wooded trail route with signage to enable participants to go at their own pace while still completing a full loop around the park. The Fest awarded prizes for the (1) fastest time, (2) greatest amount of trash, and the (3) weirdest item found.

Expectations were guarded as this was the first time plogging was introduced at the Fest. However, plogging drew a dedicated crowd who set the standard for future growth and has inspired planning and marketing for more plogging events in the spring. “We hope that combining recreation and environmental stewardship in different ways will help us reach a larger audience and give participants new and fun experiences,” stated Karlis. Participants collected several full bags of trash around the river along with 3 tires. The weirdest item found ended up being what is thought to be a large piece of an old motorcycle of some sort. One of the participants hauled this heavy piece back to the finish line, dog in hand!

For future events, organizers will increase marketing efforts to engage a wider audience and increase the number of participants. Trail Fest was a pilot for the planned X-Treme Cleanup series which will feature kayak and bar crawl clean-ups. Thank you to Karlis Grauze for an innovative addition to a popular event keeping it fresh and fun for all who attended!

Interested in finding out more about plogging? Check out this great video from the PBS News Hour here.

Chesapeake Conservation Corps Perspective: Olivia Wisner

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On August 20th, the Chesapeake Conservation Corps (CCC) will graduate 31 members from 28 host sites and welcome the programs 10th class, with 37 new members assigned to 32 host sites. Created by the Maryland General Assembly in 2010, the CCC provides career and leadership training for young people interested in environmental careers. The insights gained from graduating corps members can shape the potential for environmental science and industry in the future. We are pleased to share Olivia’s (pictured left teaching a 5th grade class) experience here:

As a native Marylander, the Chesapeake Bay has always been an iconic natural resource. Growing up I was taught by outstanding environmental educators, and was fortunate enough to spend every summer with my family crabbing, canoeing, and camping at Janes Island State Park. My early experiences in nature shaped my subsequent education and career interests. I graduated from University of Maryland Baltimore County with a B.S. in Environmental Science, where I learned about the natural processes that take place within the watershed. But it’s been my time with the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Maryland (CBNERR-MD) that’s taught me the most about the Chesapeake Bay.

I came to CBNERR-MD in August 2019 as a Chesapeake Conservation Corps Member. The Chesapeake Conservation Corps (CCC) is a professional development program managed by the Chesapeake Bay Trust, providing budding environmental professionals with a year of hands-on full-time experience working with non-profits or organizations that aim to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay. I’m glad to have been stationed with CBNERR-MD because of their three unique component sites: Jug Bay, Monie Bay, and Otter Point Creek. I’ve had unforgettable experiences at all three sites, growing my perspective of the Bay as a whole.

Within my first month with CBNERR-MD, I had the opportunity to expand my horizons at Jug Bay. Straddling Prince Georges and Anne Arundel Counties, Jug Bay is a freshwater tidal marsh located along the Patuxent River. I was invited to help Melinda Fegler of the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary with Snakehead monitoring; the infamous invasive fish from Asia. In the early morning we boarded an electrofishing boat and spent hours scanning the edge of the water looking for Snakeheads. We removed five that day, and I scooped the largest one.

My involvement with the Shoring Up Resiliency through Education (SURE) program, allowed me to further explore the realm of environmental education. SURE serves teachers and students surrounding the Monie Bay component of CBNERR-MD. I’ve visited parks, marinas, and schools to help support Somerset County Public School system as they develop an environmental literacy curriculum. This has been an exciting project because I’ve been exposed to the behind the scenes efforts of environmental education.

As my Corps experience is winding down, I’ve had the opportunity to give back to CBNERR-MD through my CCC capstone project at the Anita C. Leight Estuary Center at Otter Point Creek in Harford County. I worked closely with Park Manager Kriste Garman and Park Naturalist Lauren Greoski to design a space, called the Nature Discovery Area, where young visitors can learn about nature through play. It was installed in late June with the help of my fellow Corps Members.

My time as a Corps Member with CBNERR-MD has truly exceeded my expectations. I feel lucky to have worked with an amazing organization, in beautiful locations, doing important work for the Chesapeake Bay all over Maryland.

 

 

Chesapeake Conservation Corps Members are Making a Difference in Prince George’s County

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Providing young adults with opportunities to gain green career skills and become more engaged through meaningful community service is crucial to the protection and restoration of our environment and natural resources.

The Chesapeake Conservation Corps places young adults with nonprofit organizations or government agencies around the Chesapeake Bay region for a year of service focused on improving local communities and advancing environmental initiatives. This year’s cohort includes two members placed with host organizations in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

Corps member Andrew Jones is a graduate of Salisbury University and University of Maryland Eastern Shore, receiving a dual degree in biology and environmental science. He was placed with the Town of Edmonston and spent his year increasing green initiatives within the Town.

For his capstone project, Andrew established an after school environmental club at William Wirt Middle School. The club was highly successful, attracting 30 students and engaging them in a variety of rewarding environmental experiences. Students installed a native pollinator garden and a rain garden on campus. They also participated in community clean ups and storm drain stenciling to reduce litter in the community.

Andrew’s fellow Corps member, Kelly Peaks, graduated from Marist College with a degree in environmental science. She was placed with the Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland. She spent her year supporting the Center’s initiatives such as the Sustainable Maryland certification program.

For her capstone project, Kelly worked on updating and redesigning the Sustainable Maryland website. The current website was outdated and did not have the most up-to-date information about the program. The Sustainable Maryland program helps municipalities fund green initiatives to improve and revitalize their community. Municipalities may select from a variety of actions to complete in order to achieve certification. Kelly led the development of new actions, updates to current actions, and creation of certification tiers. These updates make the website more user friendly and help to further promote the program. The Environmental Finance Center expects to release the full website update later this year.

Thank you, Andrew and Kelly, for the great work you’ve done this year with your host organizations and in Prince George’s County!

The Chesapeake Bay Trust is excited to celebrate this year’s cohort and welcome next year’s cohort of Chesapeake Conservation Corps members at the upcoming orientation and graduation ceremony in August. Next year’s cohort of Corps members is expected to include four members placed with host organizations in Prince George’s County.

Chesapeake Conservation Corps Profile: Connor Liu & The Nature Conservancy

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We’re showcasing the unique experience of participating in the Chesapeake Conservation Corps by sharing profiles of Corps member of the 2018-2019 cohort along with information on their host site and descriptions of the work they have been doing.

Maryland native, Connor Liu grew up a few short miles from the Potomac River. Before joining the Chesapeake Conservation Corps, Connor worked at several environmental organizations in Maryland including the Assateague Island National Seashore. Interestingly, Connor also spent a summer in Mozambique researching flora and fauna of the wild African ecosystem at Gorongosa National Park. His Corps service host site, The Nature Conservancy, fits Connor’s interest in restoration, stating that “restoring habitat is work that strengthens the intimate bond that humans should have with the land. One can observe tangible progress and there is little that seems more fulfilling to me.”

Capstone projects are a graduation requirement for all Corps members at the conclusion of their year of service. A capstone project is an initiative designed by the Corps member that advances both an interest of the member and a priority objective of the member’s host site. Connor’s capstone project is focused on monitoring and restoration of red spruce trees in Maryland.

Since The Nature Conservancy began this work in 1996, they have planted over 65,000 red spruce seedlings in western Maryland. Red spruce trees have numerous benefits to forest ecosystems, including providing habitat for native species (such as mice, voles, bears, deer and hares), keeping headwater streams cool (which allows native trout to stay at their preferred body temperature), and providing a carbon sink. Connor set up 27 monitoring sites over a 30-acre area of Red Spruce trees (planted last year) and proceeded to count new seedlings to determine survival and reproductive rates. Connor organized surveying teams in partnership with the Deep Creek Conservation Corps (See Below) to be as precise and efficient as possible. Thanks to Connor’s work, there are data supporting the efforts to bring back red spruce populations in Maryland.

Connor’s project also involved a restoration technique needed to help the red spruce survive called “release.” This part of the project is necessary to balance red spruce trees’ sunlight needs in older forests with denser canopy that does not ordinarily allow enough sunlight for them to grow efficiently. Connor selectively girdles common hardwoods to allow red spruce to ascend to the canopy centuries faster than they would have naturally. Girdling (also called ringbarking) is the act of removing a strip of bark from an area of a tree, which will limit or halt its growth above the area of the girdle. This process has been successful in West Virginia and through his capstone project, Connor has brought it to Maryland. This process is meant to help the overall diversity of the forests as well.

The Nature Conservancy is providing additional trainings for Connor this year, including native plant identification, invasive species identification and removal, GIS mapping, and prescribed fire skills. Prescribed burns are an important part of forestry management. Connor has been trained on the process and conducts them in many areas of Maryland (such as the Nassawango Preserve, Maryland Forest Service, Department of Natural Resource Heritage, Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge, and Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge). (See Above).

Chesapeake Conservation Corps members hold “All Hands on Deck” days where all Corps members participate in projects at various host sites. Recently, Connor, along with this year’s cohort of Corps members, helped build a “Nature Discovery Area” at Anita C Leight Estuary Center in Harford County. Connor, along with fellow Corps members Olivia Wisner (Chesapeake Bay National Estuary Research Reserve) and Bradley Simpson (Audubon Naturalist Society), are pictured taking a short break after installing a sunken canoe element in the play space. Next month, the Corps members will have one more “All Hands on Deck” experience on Poplar Island with Maryland Environmental Service to conduct monarch butterfly surveys.

Connor hopes to stay with The Nature Conservancy, or take his experience in the program to the Peace Corps after graduation. Connor loves the Chesapeake Conservation Corps program because it allows him to see many environmental projects all over the state of Maryland and network with other recent college graduates with the same interests as him. The Chesapeake Bay Trust is excited to celebrate this year’s cohort and welcome next year’s cohort of Chesapeake Conservation Corps members at the upcoming orientation and graduation ceremony that will take place at Camp Letts in Edgewater in August. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

 

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.

Welcoming Chesapeake Conservation Corps Class of 2019 and congratulating the Class of 2018!

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Maryland's future is bright green.

Maryland Environment Secretary Ben GrumblesGraduation speaker for the Chesapeake Conservation Corps Class of 2017-2018

This week the Trust celebrated the incoming and outgoing Chesapeake Conservation Corps classes with the annual “Passing of the Golden Shovel” ceremony, a focal point of a day of celebration and training held at YMCA’s Camp Letts in Edgewater, Md. At the event, the 38 2018-2019 Corps participants met their host organizations to learn more about their job responsibilities for the upcoming year. The ceremony also served as a graduation for the 42 members of the outgoing Corps class who wrapped up their year of service this month. The day’s guest speakers included Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr.; Senator John Astle; Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles; John Quinn, Director of Governmental and External Affairs, BGE; Ernestine White, National Youth Employment Programs Coordinator, National Park Service; and Trust Board Chair Ben Wechsler.

The Chesapeake Conservation Corps is a green jobs program created by the Maryland Legislature to educate and train the next generation of environmental stewards. The program matches young people ages 18-25 with nonprofit and government organizations for paid, one-year terms of service, focused on improving local communities and protecting natural resources.

During their year of service, Chesapeake Conservation Corps members gain valuable on-the-job experience as they work to advance environmental conservation, K-12 education, energy efficiency programs, sustainable agriculture practices, and a host of other environmentally-focused initiatives.

“The Chesapeake Conservation Corps’ impact on our communities and our environment multiplies with each new class of Corps members,” said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., the initiator of the program in 2010. “We have reached a point where members of the Corps’ first classes are now leaders in environmental organizations throughout our region. I am proud of the investment we are making in them and the future of the green economy in our state.”

The program has a consistent track record of placing graduates in full-time positions upon completion of the program, with many Corps members in each graduating class hired directly by their host organizations, often into brand new positions.

“Since its creation, the Chesapeake Conservation Corps has been a launching pad for environmental careers throughout our state,” said Maryland Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton. “It is vital that we continue to grow our green workforce through programs like this. The work that these young people are undertaking and the issues they are trying to address are critical to the health and future of our environment and natural resources. The department has been fortunate to host a number of bright and talented Corps members over the years. We have seen firsthand that the training they receive is top-notch and their energy and enthusiasm is boundless.”

The program has become more popular with potential host organizations each year since its initiation in 2010 because of the quality of the young people who serve.  Three times as many host organizations seek Corps members than resources can support.  The Corps members’ stipends are supported by the Chesapeake Bay Trust (and the Bay Plate license plate program) and their partners, providing host organizations with added capacity at little added cost.

Partner funders include the State of Maryland, BGE an Exelon Company, and the U.S. National Park Service. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Adkins Arboretum, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Department of the Environment, South River Federation, and Maryland Coastal Bays Program also contributed matching funds for the program this year.

“The National Park Service is proud to once again be supporting the Chesapeake Conservation Corps,” said George McDonald, U.S. National Park Service Youth Programs Manager. “These young people are embarking on a truly unique career-building experience that will ultimately benefit all of us as they learn and teach others the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation.”

“BGE has been a proud supporter of the Chesapeake Conservation Corps for many years because we care about the health of our communities and our natural resources,” said John Quinn of BGE, a key funder of the program.  “We understand the importance of developing leaders who value our natural resources and have the experience and perspective to be good stewards. The Corps program prepares young people to enter the workforce in all sectors: nonprofit, government, and corporate as well.”

During the course of the year, Corps participants work directly with their host organizations, receive extensive job trainings hosted by the Chesapeake Bay Trust, and gain experience in grant writing and project management through a capstone project.

“Continuing the progress that has been made in restoring the health of the Chesapeake depends on educating and training the next generation of environmental leaders,” said Jana Davis, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust. “The Chesapeake Conservation Corps prepares young people with the skills and experience that are needed to keep the momentum going.”

The 2018-2019 Chesapeake Conservation Corps class includes the following individuals and their host organizations:

  1. Travis Anthony, National Aquarium, Baltimore City
  2. Michael Bowman, U.S. National Park Service, Anne Arundel County
  3. Kaila Cavanaugh, Accokeek Foundation, Prince George’s County
  4. Emily Castle, Adkins Arboretum, Caroline County
  5. Evan Claggett, Environmental Concern, Talbot County
  6. Megan Davis, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Biological Stream Survey, Anne Arundel County
  7. Jennifer Duvall, Patapsco Heritage Greenway, Howard County
  8. Brianna Fragata, Maryland Coastal Bays Program, Worcester County
  9. Leah Franzluebbers, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Anne Arundel County
  10. Brittany Furlong, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Biological Stream Survey, Anne Arundel County
  11. Justin Gallardo, Uptown Metro Ministry Group, Baltimore City
  12. Sarah Grossweiler, Maryland Department of the Environment, Baltimore City
  13. Thomas Heffernan, Living Classrooms Foundation, Baltimore City
  14. Lucy Heller, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Anne Arundel County
  15. Kelly Johnson, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Anne Arundel County
  16. Andrew Jones, Town of Edmonston, Prince George’s County
  17. Shayna Keller, South River Federation, Anne Arundel County
  18. Jay Kinnaman, Maryland Environmental Service, Anne Arundel County
  19. Alexander Kirchhof, Mayor and City Council of Cumberland, Allegany County
  20. Amy Kochel, Susquehanna Heritage Corporation, Pennsylvania
  21. Connor Liu, The Nature Conservancy, Allegany County
  22. Jamie Mancini, Sultana Education Foundation, Kent County
  23. Rory Maymon, Maryland Department of the Environment , Baltimore City
  24. Syler Merski, Friends of Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, Calvert County
  25. Jesus Munoz Buenrostro, Southeast Community Development Corporation, Baltimore City
  26. Kelly Peaks, University of Maryland, Environmental Finance Center, Prince George’s County
  27. Rachel Plescha, ShoreRivers, Talbot County
  28. Arianna Russo, Maryland Coastal Bays Program, Worcester County
  29. Marissa Sayers, Central Baltimore Partnership, Baltimore City
  30. Cheyenne Sebold, C&O Canal Trust, Washington County
  31. Dominic Serino, Audubon Maryland-DC, Baltimore City
  32. Justin Shapiro, National Wildlife Federation, Anne Arundel County
  33. Nathaniel Simmons, Adkins Arboretum, Caroline County
  34. Bradley Simpson, Audubon Naturalist Society, Montgomery County
  35. Alexa Stillwell, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Anne Arundel County
  36. Thomas Urban, Howard County Department of Recreation & Parks, Howard County
  37. Tanisha Washington, Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, Baltimore City
  38. Olivia Wisner, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (CBNERR), Anne Arundel County

Snapshot of Life in the Chesapeake Conservation Corps

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Corps Members Collaborate on Jug Bay Wetlands Nature Discovery Play Space

Check out this great video from Chesapeake Conservation Corps member Shelby Cross!

In late December, eight Chesapeake Conservation Corps members gathered at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary for a site visit and to assist fellow Corps member Shelby Cross with one phase of her capstone project: building a giant “bird’s nest” for a new nature discovery play space at Jug Bay’s Wayson’s Corner location.

Each year participants in the Chesapeake Conservation Corps complete a capstone project to top off their Corps experience. The capstone project provides Corps members with experience in grant writing (they apply to the Trust for grants to fund their projects) and project planning, management, and implementation.

To build Cross’s giant bird’s nest, Corps members worked together to remove three truckloads of vine, including some invasive oriental bittersweet, for the construction of the nest. The nest will be a key feature in the nature play space, which aims to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards and encourage children to grow socially, physically, and cognitively by engaging with nature through play.  The Corps members completed the nest within 4 hours, whereas Cross estimates that it would have taken her over 30 hours to complete by herself.

Describing her Chesapeake Conservation Corps experience, Cross says “This experience so far has been absolutely amazing, and in many instances rewarding. I have taught Anne Arundel County Public School’s second grade classes, and it brightens my day to know I made a child smile for something as simple as sharing my knowledge of turtles. However, there are some days that this position is equally challenging, and requires a lot of mental and physical attention. It has an easy balance between being rewarding and challenging, and it’s hard to find that kind of experience.”

The Chesapeake Conservation Corps is currently accepting applications for 2018-2019 Host Sites until March 9, 2018 at 5:00 pm.

Applications for 2018-2019 Corp members are also open and due by April 13, 2018 at 5:00 pm. To learn more about this life-changing program and to submit an application visit: cbtrust.org/prospective.

To learn more about Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, visit their website.

Shelby Cross is a 2017-2018 Chesapeake Conservation Corps member with Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary. She received her B.A. in Environmental Studies from Goucher College.

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