One of the goals of the Aquarium's Conservation Department is to educate students and build stewardship throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed – and we mean the whole watershed!
Earlier this year, our team took the Wetland Nursery Program to central New York, near the headwaters of one of the Bay’s largest sources of fresh water, the Susquehanna River. Throughout the school year, students from two schools in the Binghamton, NY, area grew local freshwater wetland plants, like blue flag iris, in nursery ponds, and planted them in nearby wetlands when our team visited in May.
It may have been a long drive, but it was well worth the trip. The group planted around 1,700 plants and our team interacted with more than 400 students in just two days! The most amazing part of the trip was when they realized that the students really "got it"! First- and second-graders were able to explain that the planting was not only helping their wetland, but it was also making the water cleaner for the Chesapeake Bay all the way down in Maryland.
All of this traveling didn’t mean we were ignoring our local students and wetlands! Throughout late May and early June, Baltimore-area students participating in the Wetland Nursery Program visited our restoration site at the future home of Westport Waterfront, a multi-use community in the Westport/Curtis Bay neighborhood of Baltimore City.
One hundred and seventy students planted 15,000 plugs of Spartina marsh grass and released 88 striped bass they had raised at school. On top of seeing firsthand how marsh restoration can help the Bay, they also learned about how this live/work/play development was reclaiming a lost and forgotten waterfront area of the city that had been housing factories.
With the new school year just around the corner, our Conservation Education staff is gearing up to work with more students and provide many more teachable moments about the Chesapeake Bay watershed! To learn how you can get involved with our restoration and cleanup events, click here!