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Enthusiastic Students Recruited To Be Stewards - July 5, 2011

Joriee Dorman, a senior at Bowie State University, just returned for her third summer as a Coastal Steward.

"Being a Coastal Steward has been so much more than a job. My entire perspective has changed; about our world, how I view the environment, and what I can do to make an effective change in my community," Dorman says. "Being a Coastal Steward has affected me personally. I never knew all of the opportunities that environmental education could offer. I'm seriously considering a career in environmental education now."

Lester Franklin, a freshman at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, first became familiar with Assateague and the coastal bays as a high school student. Lester was enrolled in the Upward Bound Program at UMES throughout high school and participated in programs at Assateague for four consecutive years. Now, as a Coastal Steward he is anxious to share his knowledge about our local natural resources and to help others learn what they can do to be better stewards. After completing his first week of training, Franklin shares, "every day I'm learning more and more. I am networking, gaining new friendships and growing as a person. Although this is my first week, I would recommend the program to any and all people."

One might assume that Coastal Stewards are all biology majors and tree-huggers. That couldn't be further from the truth. While a few are pursuing degrees in science, some Coastal Stewards are studying history, education, business and psychology. Stephen Castaneda, a senior at Hampton University, is a music major. He's noticed that a lot of young African-Americans don't get outdoors much except when they play sports. He hopes to change that.

Danielle Miller, a senior at Snow Hill High School, said: "This job has helped me develop my personality and open up to new people. It's also helped me learn more about the local environment. Now, I plan to major biology and chemistry."

Clarisse Young, a student at Delmar High School, is excited about the variety of experiences she will have this summer. On the third day of training, Young and the rest of the Coastal Stewards had the opportunity to meet and kayak with Gov. Martin O'Malley to visit Skimmer Island, the site of recent restoration work and a critical nesting area for two state-endangered species, black skimmers and royal terns.

Throughout the summer Coastal Stewards will be assisting with a number of projects designed to help improve water quality in the coastal bays. They will plant marsh grasses on Herring Creek, which will stabilize the shoreline and will provide valuable habitat. They will help maintain planted bioretention buffers which will absorb nutrients and runoff. They will clean up debris from our waterways and adjacent land. They will construct rainbarrels which will collect rainwater that can be used to water gardens. They will label stormdrains, reminding folks that whatever runs into them, eventually drains to our bays.

Coastal Stewards will also be on Assateague Island, at both the State and National Park, helping to educate visitors about Delmarva's natural and cultural heritage. And you will see them at events including the J. Millard Tawes Crab & Clam Bake in Crisfield, Blessing of the Combines in Snow Hill, and the Maryland Association of Counties Conference in Ocean City. Coastal Stewards range in age from 15-24. They come from Worcester and Wicomico counties.

The Coastal Stewards program aims to foster the next generation of environmental stewards. Every effort is made to do it with care, with deliberation, and with respect. The program creates an atmosphere conducive to enthusiastic sharing of an appreciation for nature. It teaches people skills and provides resources that can help them make a difference. The program promotes meaningful, positive connections with nature and then, provides students with the encouragement and the tools they need to affect change.

You can follow Coastal Stewards on Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. If you're interested in learning more about the Coastal Stewards program, providing support or applying to be a Coastal Steward, contact Carrie Samis at csamis@mdcoastal bays.org.

Samis is the education coordinator for the Maryland Coastal Bays Program.

 

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