Each year 15 local high school and college students get the unique opportunity to work as Coastal Stewards for the summer. The program, is a collaboration between the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, the National Park Service at Assateague Island National Seashore and the Maryland State Park at Assateague Island and is funded primarily through the Environmental Protection Agency. The Coastal Steward Program teaches these students about our coastal bays wildlife, heritage, and history which they in turn use to educate visitors and locals alike.
Many of our young Coastal Stewards experience many life-altering firsts in the program; from going on their first boat ride to earning their first pay check and even banding their first pelican or songbird. While we hire many new Coastal Stewards each year, we have many Coastal Stewards return for multiple summers, going from Coastal Steward, to Coastal Steward Team Leader and beyond.
Mika'il Randall, 15, is a first year Coastal Steward who is currently going into his Sophomore year at Stephen Decatur High School. He joined the Coastal Stewards because he loves being outside and being able to work outside during the summer, and to help him with his future goals of working for the United States Coast Guard.
Many of our Coastal Stewards this year are returning for their second, third and even fourth years in the program.
Tashonna Grant, 18, has been working with the Coastal Steward program for the past four years, since she was 14, and the Coastal Stewards program was actually her first job ever. She recently graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in May and is planning on attending the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) in the fall. Tashonna returned to the program because she sees the Coastal Stewards as a mini family, enjoys working with her co-workers and she loves working outside.
Another returning Coastal Steward is Myia Tariq, 18, another recent graduate from Stephen Decatur High School. Myia has been working with the Coastal Stewards for the past two years and even convinced her sister Aisha Tariq, 21, to join the program this summer. She is planning on attending UMES in the fall; she switched majors from nursing to biology after working in our program and rediscovering her passion for biology and the natural world.
Chelsea Lawson, 16, is a senior at Stephen Decatur High School. This is her third year coming back to the Coastal Steward program for the summer. She came back to the Coastal Stewards because she enjoyed meeting new people, interacting with the visitors and learning more about our natural world and coastal bays.
As our younger Coastal Stewards continue in the program, they eventually become Coastal Stewards team leaders who are in charge of Coastal Stewards transportation, leading their groups in activities and educational programs, and providing a good example to our younger Stewards.
Lester Franklin, 22, was a Coastal Steward for a year before transferring to the National Park Service at Assateague island national seashore. This year he returned as a Coastal Steward team leader, to help lead and teach our younger Coastal Stewards. He is currently attending UMES to pursue a bachelors in Education and is passionate about teaching and environmental education, especially taking kids out for unique field experiences and meaningful field trips.
Julio Richardson, 23, is returning for his second year as a Coastal Stewards team leader. He recently graduated from UMES in May with a bachelors in finance, and is hoping to find a job in the environmental field where he can combine the skills he learned from the Coastal Stewards program and his knowledge in the financial field.
Supreme Green, 22, is another second year returning Coastal Steward team leader. She is currently a senior at UMES as a sociology major. She returned to the stewards this year because of the diverse array of activities they help with and because of the great personal relationships she has developed with the younger stewards last year.
While some of our Coastal Stewards return to the program in subsequent summers, many other stewards find other related jobs. The program is aimed at helping our Coastal Stewards continue with their education, help them develop networking and job skills, as well as helping them find jobs in the environmental field for those who are interested.
Omar Alvi, 19, worked for the Coastal Stewards for two years before transferring to the National Park Service at Assateague island national seashore. He is currently attending Salisbury University for a bachelors in physics and engineering and plans on working with green technology and green engineering in his future career after college.
Ashley Orr, 21, also worked for the Coastal Stewards for two years. This summer she is working for the "It Takes A Village To Help Our Children" inc. as a student aide, assisting with a variety of facets of the summer camp program. Ashley is currently enrolled at UMES and is scheduled to graduate in December of this year. After graduation she also plans on pursuing her masters degree in public policy making with an emphasis on environmental policy.
All of our Coastal Stewards are knowledgeable, friendly, enthusiastic and love working outside during our summer months so please feel free to come by and talk to us about our coastal bays, wildlife, natural history and local ecosystems!
Harrison Jackson is the Coastal Stewards Coordinator for the Maryland Coastal Bays Program.