Trash Free Chesapeake starts with Reducing in School

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There are a number of initiatives promoting the reduction and clean-up of trash throughout the Chesapeake watershed. Look to your local parks and recreation department; county, state, and national park service; or local outdoor group for opportunities to learn and help clean trash from rivers or creeks in your backyard. You can also check out the trash-free watershed initiatives of the Alice Ferguson Foundation¬†or Montgomery County Maryland’s Trash Free Potomac River Initiative. As is most often the way, big initiatives like cleaning up the Chesapeake watershed start with small steps.

School for Tomorrow is working on instituting its own Trash Reduction Program. One of our seventh grade students, Jeremy, has taken on a recycling and composting program as part of his community service project. We are placing bins around the school (starting in the lunch room) for recyclables.

Matt, helped design our composting bin, and with the help of Ben, Blake, Daniel, Roger, Jonathan, Noah, and Jason built the tumbling composter for the garden. Later this week, we’ll be adding a bucket in the lunchroom for students to drop their biodegradable food waste. Each day we’ll bring it out to the composter, put it in, and give it a spin.

Soon we hope to begin tracking our weekly recycling.

Kojo and Friends on the Chesapeake

WAMU’s Kojo Nnambi has been running an occasional series on the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. In this series he examines a number of different aspects of the Bay’s ecology and some innovative strategies for protecting the Bay and its resources:

The Bounty of the Chesapeake Bay– Chef Barton Seaver and other guests talk about how the local food movement and area chefs are being rallied to promote local foods from the Chesapeake, and how this can help watermen earn greater profit and protect some of the Bay’s most endangered species.

Invasive Species: Our Region’s Newest Invaders– Officials from national and local departments discuss the history of invasive species in the U.S. and our region, including the nearly $100 billion price-tag for fighting them.

The Chesapeake from AboveCameron Davidson photographs the Chesapeake Bay from helicopters and planes. Over three decades his aerial shots show the beauty of the bay and the thousands of miles of marshes, rivers, and tributaries, as well as the changes that have taken place.

Chesapeake and Coastal CookingBelieve it or not,¬†Chesapeake cooking involves much more than boiling a few blue crabs. John Shields — chef, cookbook author, public television host, and “culinary ambassador” of the Chesapeake Bay talks about cooking with native ingredients. He also discusses how sourcing ingredients locally is better for our bodies and the local economy.

This is a great series for teachers or anyone else interested in the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed.

Two Senses of the Susquehanna in Michner’s Chesapeake.

In his novel Chesapeake, James Michener creates a historical narrative of a place–the Chesapeake Bay–woven together by the experiences of those who call the Bay home. In the novel, the Chesapeake watershed holds sway over a line of rich and diverse individuals. Over the 400 or so years of his telling, the Chesapeake takes on a central role, and sense of personal identity becomes entwined with the Bay and its tributaries. In many ways the place defines the people as much as they influence our perception of the geography.

Two chapters that students recently read side by side provide a glimpse of how place can draw individuals, and how it can send them forth on a mission of discovery. Pentaquod is a Susquehanna Indian forced to flee his tribe and seek a new home along the shores of the Great River. Thomas Applegarth is a young tenant farmer drawn by the lure of new ideas and a desire to explore them. For both men the Chesapeake and its largest tributary, the Susquehanna River provide a new outlook and a new sense of place.

For the exiled Native American the call to a new place would bring a new identity, a new family, and a new way of seeing the world…

And so, in the middle of the Chesapeake, Pentaquod, the Susquehanock who was tired of war, turned his log canoe not to the turbulent western shore, as he had intended, but to the quieter eastern shore, and that simple choice made all the difference.

Young Applegate, feeling the draw of origin, the desire to find the source, discovers a place that determines his life’s outlook from that point forward…

I stood in that meadow with the sun reflecting back from the isolated drops of water and realized that for a river like the Susquehanna there could be no beginning. It was simply there, the indefinable river, now formidable stream and then spacious bay and then ocean itself, an unbroken chain with all parts so interrelated that it will exist forever, even during the next age of ice.

A Week on the Water

Last week we spent two days on the water with groups of students. Actually, we spent one day on the water and one day in the water.

On Wednesday, a group of students spent the morning at the Meadowside Nature Center, in Rock Creek Regional Park. Down at the creek students used pipes, bottles, stones, mud and sticks to explore and understand the physical properties of water. Yes, all the plastic came home with us at the end of the day.

Nature centers throughout the region offer excellent opportunities for students to learn about local ecology. The education team at Meadowside was incredibly flexible and willing to let SFT students and teachers explore the creek in unorthodox, but respectful ways.

On Friday students spent the whole day on the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers thanks to an educational program run by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Aboard the Susquehanna Andy, the Foundation’s educator, and our captain Eric explained the three major types of pollution affecting the Bay and its tributaries: nutrient, sediment and toxic chemicals. Students sampled the water to measure things such as levels of dissolved oxygen and pH levels.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation conducts many one-day and overnight programs for students and educators to help them understand the threats to our water system. Through these excellent and affordable programs students begin to see the connections between their everyday activities and the health of our ecological systems.