Tag Archives: Baltimore

Los amigos de Patuxent

This post is part of of short summer series featuring blog posts from our Hispanic Access Foundation interns. Today, we are hearing from JoAnna Marlow and Abraham Lopez Trejo, who spent the summer at Patuxent Research Refuge in Maryland. Read more posts in the series here

JoAnna and Abraham at the Masonville Cove bioblitz.

First up, JoAnna:

With the help of our coworkers and staff, we held several events for Latino Conservation Week. Our highlighted event was a bilingual tram tour guided by either myself, or Abraham. To advertise this event, we printed tram tour flyers and went out into the community to places like Casa de Maryland, a couple of Latino youth centers, and libraries. Another event we have planned was a program with Monarch Global Academy. Along with environmental education and interpretation sessions held at their location, we brought them to the refuge during Latino Conservation Week for a day of fun. At first, I was nervous about going out and trying to make all these connections with the community, but people were friendly and welcoming. I learned that talking to people in person and being able to show them how you feel and express what your mission is goes a long way, much longer than communicating via email.

Minicamp of 8-10 year-olds participating in an activity called “Migration Headache”. This activity requires the campers to become migrating birds that are traveling from nesting sites to wintering sites.

Abraham and I also helped Chelsea Miller, another intern at Patuxent, with her summer minicamps. There were two types of two-day minicamps: Animal Adaptations and Wonderful Wetlands. Each minicamp was taught to two different age groups: 5-7 year-olds, and 8-10 year-olds. It was awesome seeing how excited those kids were each day! They all had something different to say when they were asked what their favorite part of the camp was. On the last day of each camp, the kids were able to go fishing on the North Tract of Patuxent Research Refuge. A great thing about minicamps is that they are free, which usually isn’t the case, or at least not the case at various nature centers/estuaries I have visited. I love the accessibility of all the programs at Patuxent because enjoying nature and environmental education shouldn’t be costly.

Abraham and I also participated as volunteers at the fourth annual BioBlitz at Masonville Cove, and it was a successful day for data collection with the help of citizens, scientists, naturalists, and other volunteers. We walked around to each station to and talked with other volunteers about what they were identifying and recording around the Masonville Cove environment. While walking around Masonville Cove, Jennie, our supervisor, helped us identify an Orchard Oriole! We learned about the difference between the Orchard Oriole and the famous Baltimore Oriole, as well as their different sounds.

Abraham and I went on a guided bird walk at the BioBlitz which was led by our supervisor, Jennie McNicoll. I was able to take a picture of a Great Blue Heron and couple of ducks through a pair of binoculars.

Karen Mullins, with Baltimore Wilderness Coalition, and Jennie took us on a tour through South Baltimore to help us gather ideas on different types of outreach projects we could start throughout the summer. We gathered ideas based off various community projects around the city. We also had the privilege of talking to the Carroll & Gwynns Falls Parks District Manager from the Baltimore Department of Recreation & Parks about making parts of the parks friendlier for the public.

This is the last place we visited during our Baltimore visit. The sign in the Filbert Street Garden, a community garden within the Curtis Bay area.

Now, Abraham:

Time flies at Patuxent! I have learned a lot about project planning and what working in a partnership requires. As well, it has been a personal journey in which I have learned to become better organized and more aware of time constraints. It has been a truly holistic experience where we have learned to be flexible but assertive at the same time when planning events, and connecting with people.

One of the highlights of my time at Patuxent, and one of my personal enjoyments, was going into Latino neighborhoods to find new “amigos” (friends) and possible future partnerships. While looking for possible places to drop some flyers for our events we came across the Latino American and Multicultural Youth Centers in the DC-Maryland. All the people we met at these centers made us feel truly welcomed. We shook hands and exchanged numbers but even more important, we shared our goals and dreams.

It was refreshing to meet likeminded people who care about the wellbeing of their community. While at these meetings, we found their excitement to work with Service and Hispanic Access Foundation to teach our Latino community how to conserve the environment and contribute to a better future. There is a lot of potential for a future fruitful partnership, but in the meantime, we created some long-lasting connections.

Baby black rat snake found while removing fallen tree limbs (Taken by Sarah Carpe)

Conservation from an (unlikely?) source

From left to right we have Logan Kline, Sarah Carpe, Sheldon Mason and Adler (AJ) Pruitt

From left to right we have Logan Kline, Sarah Carpe, Sheldon Mason and Adler (AJ) Pruitt

Today’s post comes from Sarah Carpe, one of our Masonville Cove Baltimore Urban Conservation & Education Interns, in conjunction with the National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD.

My name is Sarah, and I’m an Urban Conservation and Education Intern at Masonville Cove. From June 13th – 24th, I spent time at Patuxent Research Refuge with three other interns and my field supervisor, Molly Finch. In our time on the refuge we shadowed several positions within the conservation field.

The preservation of earth’s natural state includes a few positions that naturally come to mind. Wildlife biologist, conservationist, and environmental scientist are some common careers in conservation.

While these positions are essential, and we observed many of them at the refuge, there are some less well known jobs that are of equal importance to restoring our environment.

For a majority of our time at Patuxent Research Refuge, we worked with the facilities department. I learned that the work they do has a direct impact on the refuge. Our firsthand experience showed us the direct benefits of this job and its importance to conservation.

Facilities staff do a variety of jobs, many of which require physical labor. In the short time we spent working with them, we removed illegally dumped tires, fallen tree limbs, and massive piles of scrap aluminum, wood, and fiberglass roofing.

Interns working (Taken by Molly Finch)

Interns working (Taken by Molly Finch)

I feel as though shining a light on what the Patuxent facilities staff do is of massive importance because it had the most immediate impact of any position that I observed at Patuxent. If you didn’t know what was there a week before we cleaned the dump sites, you never had any clue.

Working for facilities isn’t entirely physical either; we viewed tons of organisms in our time outside. A short list includes foxes, wild turkeys, turtles (both box turtles and red eared sliders), frogs, toads, mice, groundhogs, dragonflies, fish, and several others.

Baby black rat snake found while removing fallen tree limbs (Taken by Sarah Carpe)

Baby black rat snake found while removing fallen tree limbs (Taken by Sarah Carpe)

The wildlife we saw while spending time with this department was so amazing because none of it was planned. Unlike a wildlife biologist where you have a predetermined animal that is is the focus of your survey (perhaps a box turtle), we saw the habitat as a whole, with all of its organisms in our focus. Facilities work gave me an eye for what Patuxent really looks like in terms of wildlife as well as its mission as part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Being in the presence of so much wildlife really connected me to the surrounding habitat as well as the other conservation positions that aren’t the typical careers. While every environmental career has an influence, facilities staff play an invaluable role in conservation that has an impact you can see instantaneously.

Logan helps gather the plants the high schoolers have maintained throughout their school year. (Photo by Molly Finch)

Learning By Doing: The Value of Environmental Education

From left to right we have Logan Kline, Sarah Carpe, Sheldon Mason and Adler (AJ) Pruitt

From left to right we have Logan Kline, Sarah Carpe, Sheldon Mason and Adler (AJ) Pruitt

Today’s post comes from Logan Kline, one of our Masonville Cove Baltimore Urban Conservation & Education Interns, in conjunction with the National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD.

With dibble bars in hand, waders on, and plants at the ready, students from New York’s Chenango Forks High School charge into their native wetland with brave intentions to restore the plant life of their unique ecosystem.

Wood ducks, red-winged blackbirds, and copious bullfrogs rest in the murky waters of the school’s marshland and depend on native vegetation for food, shelter, and protection.  Without the pickerelweed, arrow arum, and wetland grass the students were attempting to restore, the rich wildlife of the school’s wetland would taper away until nothing remained but algae, mosquitoes, and moss.

As they absorbed information and tactics for restoring wetland vegetation, the students became aware of an overarching theme that I have come to be cognizant of throughout this internship program and my college experience: the importance of hands-on environmental stewardship coupled with education.

Thrown headfirst into wetland restoration, our high school and elementary school students asked thought-provoking questions that wouldn’t have struck them so significantly had they been answered in the dry safety of their classroom. When one of the older kids wanted to know something about the snails, there was no picture to bring up on a screen or diagram to pick apart; we reached into the water, grabbed a snail, and let them have an up-close encounter with the subject of their interrogation. Lessons and memories associated with hard work and indulging experiences have the potential to stick with our students and make a lasting impression on our youth.

For me, environmental education was the last thing I thought of when looking into careers that would put me in a position to change the world. College and its heavy emphasis on research immediately offered the prospects of becoming a lab worker, while the more liberal half of the college promoted policy work but I kept searching for a career choice that would take me out into the field while simultaneously giving me the opportunity to watch others absorb the beauty and importance of our environment.  I found what I wanted in environmental education.

Logan helps gather the plants the high schoolers have maintained throughout their school year. (Photo by Molly Finch)

Logan helps gather the plants the high schoolers have maintained throughout their school year. (Photo by Molly Finch)

Delving into hands-on experience working outside is an imperative step towards involving our modern generation in environmental stewardship and education. It’s been wonderful partaking in activities throughout this internship that that allow us to serve as ambassadors, spreading an important environmental message to students. As I form my own experiences and develop my unique passion within the environmental field, I’m realizing just how influential outdoor experiences are for our youth.

I can’t begin to explain how much I value the opportunities, specifically to witness environmental education that this internship has given me. We aren’t always wallowing around in wetlands or supervising students, but the moments we interact with the youth are my favorite by far. It is in these moments that I see the fruits of our labor and the blooming potential for a better, more environmentally friendly world.