Chesapeake focuses educators on environment

Educators are reconnecting with the economy and ecology of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, looking to step up environmental education programs at their high schools in Carroll County, Md., the Carroll County Times reports.


A pair of mating blue crabs (called a “doubler”) in a dip net. (Alicia Pimental via Flickr Creative Commons)

“I’m from Maryland,” the paper quoted Manchester Valley High School principal Ken Fischer, a former biology teacher, as saying. “I’ve been born and raised. I’ve been crabbing in the Inner Harbor and Ocean City, and I’ve done a lot on the water. But what it’s like to be a waterman is something that I did not understand at all until we went on the trip.”

“I think the thing that I found most interesting is the economy of the bay,” he added, saying that the health of the environment is tied to the economic prosperity of Maryland.

The Maryland Association for Environmental & Outdoor Education announced 116 schools in the state recognized as “Green Schools” back in May. “The Maryland Green Schools program provides a framework for creating sustainable environmental structures at school, home and in the community,” said Laura Johnson Collard, MAEOE’s executive director. “This is what the Maryland Green Schools program brings to the children of Maryland.”

At Manchester Valley, built in 2009, several energy-saving strategies are in place, including low-flow plumbing and lights that shut off when nobody’s in the room.

“But I don’t think that we’re using it to the best of our ability to reduce our fingerprint,” Mr Fischer said. “Coming back from the trip, I’m extra motivated to put some attention to find the resources to help students to appreciate why that building is not like their home.”

In addition to recognition in Maryland from the MAEOE, the high school is also seeking a Green Ribbon Award from the US Department of Education, the paper noted. The aim of the federal program is to inspire schools, districts, and institutions of higher education to strive for 21st century excellence by highlighting promising practices and resources that all can employ. The Green Ribbon Award therefore recognizes schools that:

  • Reduce environmental impact and costs
  • Improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff
  • Provide environmental education, which teaches many disciplines, and is especially good at effectively incorporating STEM, civic skills, and green career pathways

Mr Fischer said the school needs “to ensure our teachers are comfortable taking classes outside: It’s the same thing if you’re teaching drama. You wouldn’t be sitting in the classroom and watch it on TV; you’d go to the stage and let kids act it out.”

The field trip for educators took place July 6–8 and was offered by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, a nonprofit focused on improving the bay ecosystem. The group has an education facility on Port Isobel, an island in the bay near Tangier Island.

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Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.