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September 26, 2013

Governor O’Malley Kicks Off Schoolshed Initiative, Participates in Day to Serve with Students from Charles County

by Martha

schoolshedGovernor Martin O’Malley today joined more than 50 fourth- and fifth-grade students at J.C. Parks Elementary School in Indian Head to kick off the new Explore and Restore your Schoolshed initiative. In conjunction with the Day to Serve regional volunteer event, the Governor and students took part in a stream cleanup, removing debris and invasive plants from Pomonkey Creek.

“Today we are not only teaching our children the importance of healing our planet as part of the Day to Serve volunteer effort, but also helping them make the connection between their health and the health of the environment,” Governor O’Malley said. “By learning about and taking responsibility for our stream’s health through our Schoolshed initiative, we are helping to protect and restore our waterways ─ and our Bay ─ for today, tomorrow, and creating a legacy that others will follow into the future.”

The Explore and Restore your Schoolshed initiative encourages schools to develop activities and lesson plans that introduce students to stream stewardship. Through this statewide partnership, schools adopt the tributaries on or near their property and turn their restoration into a learning experience. More than 100 schools in 22 counties are now participating.

At the kick-off, students showcased a wetland they worked to restore as part of their environmental curriculum, planted a tree with Governor O’Malley, and joined him for a discussion on the importance of environmental stewardship. Governor O’Malley and students also walked to nearby Pomonkey Creek where they cleared invasive weeds, collected trash from the stream’s edge, and learned more about the importance of water quality.

Volunteers from Chapman Forest Foundation, Master Gardeners of Charles County, Baywise Master Gardeners and Mattawoman Watershed Society joined Maryland Department of Natural Resources biologists and education staff conducting stream health experiments using four activity stations that included invasive plant removal, macro-invertebrates, biodiversity and water testing.

Through the Day to Serve initiative, September 15-29, Marylanders along with their neighbors in Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. are participating in hunger relief, environmental, community service and other projects. In 2012, more than 4,700 Marylanders contributed more than 12,000 volunteer hours to 200 service events. This year, 275 events have been scheduled. For information on how to participate in Day to Serve in Maryland, visit daytoserve.org/maryland.

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