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Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve Celebrates 30th Annual Wetlands and Wildlife Field Day

Somerset County fourth graders participate in outdoor learning event

Maryland Department of Natural Resources photo

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve recently celebrated its 30th annual Wetlands and Wildlife Field Day, an environmental education event that provides fourth graders in Somerset County with the opportunity to engage in environmental stewardship activities and interact with natural resources professionals.

Over the course of two days in September, students visited the Deal Island Wildlife Management Area where they released banded waterfowl, engaged in stewardship and art projects, and learned about the mammals, fish, reptiles, and amphibians that call the marsh home. The fourth graders cycled through six stations, including hands-on learning experiences and exhibits about wetland resilience and invasive species.

Traci Schneider, Math and Science Supervisor of Somerset County Public Schools and long-time supporter of Wetlands and Wildlife Field Day, recognized the impact this unique opportunity affords students. 

“The Wetlands and Wildlife event offers students the opportunity to explore the vast habitat that exists in their own backyard,” Schneider said. “Through interactive stations related to the rich ecosystem, students have the opportunity for hands-on learning and inquiry driven exploration. Unfortunately, many of our students do not have the opportunity to go outside and engage meaningfully with the environment despite living in a rural community. This yearly field trip offers them that opportunity.”

Photo of man holding a duck

Biologist Hutch Walbridge discusses estuarine wildlife with students. Maryland Department of Natural Resources photo.

Wetlands and Wildlife field day stations are staffed by professional educators, biologists, and researchers from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Wildlife and Heritage Service and environmental partners from across the state. Program staff seek to empower students to make better decisions regarding the health of the water, land and wildlife around them by studying Maryland’s estuaries and learning about the importance of their coastal community. 

“We try hard to ensure an opportunity for the students to connect on a personal level to the natural world that surrounds their communities,” said John Moulis, eastern regional manager of the Wildlife and Heritage Service.

Schools that participated in the 30th anniversary event included Holly Grove Christian School, Greenwood Elementary, Deal Island Elementary, and Carter G. Woodson Elementary. 

Maryland Department of Natural Resources photo

The Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Maryland program—a federal, state, and local partnership—protects more than 6,000 acres at three natural areas to use as living classrooms and laboratories. WWFD is made possible due to a strong partnership between CBNERR, WHS and Somerset County schools.