Maryland Coastal Bays

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STEM Interns with Maryland Coastal Bays Program - July 26, 2015

Three years ago the Worcester County Economic Developmental Center began STEM enrichment programs. Their goal was to attract students from middle school, high school, and college to STEM related fields. STEM is an acronym for "Science, Technology, Engineering (sometimes replaced with Environment) and Mathematics" STEM programs allow students interested in these fields to expand their knowledge on these topics. For middle school students, an 8 day 'Reach for the Stars' Aerospace Engineering focused summer camp has been set up. Twenty 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th graders attend this camp taught by educators and professionals.

For high school and college students the Step-Up STEM Internship Program is a unique opportunity for students of Worcester County to intern at a local business in a STEM field of their interest. This internship is designed to help them expand on interpersonal skills and technical skills. This year over 60 students applied for the 20 spots available. In order to be chosen, students are asked to provide a letter of recommendation and to write an essay. After this 'round' all students have a 15 minute interview with the directors of this program. This allows the students to showcase professional and interpersonal skills. This years internship sites include Bungalow Seven, EA Engineering Science and Technology, Hardwire, Ocean City Today, and of course Maryland Coastal Bays Program.

As a student involved in this program for two years I have had the chance to see the opportunities that Worcester County has to offer. Both last year and this year I was very lucky to be placed with the Maryland Coastal Bays Program. Being interested in environmental law and policy, this was a perfect fit. I have been able to enjoy both the office and field work that comes with this job. Maryland Coastal Bays has provided me with unique opportunities. They have taught me about the islands in the bays and restoration sites around the watershed and why they are important for improving water quality and wildlife habitat.

This year I was partnered with LuAnne Mottley, a junior from Pocomoke High School. We have been able to develop interpersonal skills while engaging with co-workers, and people out in the community. LuAnne and I have visited both Lizard Hill and the Bishopville Dam and help with the projects. One of the most educational experiences was putting together a brochure and poster about the islands in the bays. We were able to take the materials we made to local marinas and restaurants and educate the public on the importance of the islands. Many people were surprised and excited when we told them the endangered skimmer birds were nesting.

Being interested in environmental policy, I really enjoyed attending the Implementation Committee (IC) meeting. This meeting is focused on bringing together Maryland Coastal Bays, Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Agency, Worcester County, and local towns including Ocean City and Berlin. These partners work to implement the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP). This plan puts forth the goals of Maryland Coastal Bays for the next 10 years in order to improve the surrounding environment.  

The partnership between the Worcester County Economic Developmental Center and Maryland Coastal Bays is unique. This experience is not something that can be found just anywhere. Worcester County has noticed the potential in their students and worked with local businesses to provide this experience. These students will be given more opportunities in the future and excel in skills to be strong and independent leaders in the community. Being able to have this internship in high school and seeing the opportunity right in my backyard has opened my mind to what an extraordinary place we live in.

 

Zainab Mirza is a STEM Intern with Maryland Coastal Bays Program. 



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