Posts Tagged 'conservation events'



Aquarium students help restore the Chesapeake Bay

In 2010, the Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) had the pleasure of seeing some new faces at several restoration events: Aquarium on Wheels students! The Aquarium on Wheels program (AOW) is the National Aquarium’s after-school work-study program offered to high school students in Baltimore City and County. Approximately 20 students participate in the program each year.

The main focus of the program is for the students to learn about an environmental topic, write an environmental play, and perform the play at the Enoch Pratt Free Libraries through the library’s summer reading program. Along the way, students learn about career opportunities in the aquarium field and how to make environmentally responsible decisions. Through field experiences, the students have a stronger depth of knowledge to pull from while writing and performing their plays. Participation in hands-on field events is a natural addition to the AOW program because, as student Jordan Green explains, “We are a conservation-education-based group.”

Aquarium on Wheels

AOW students participated in several events this past year, including debris cleanups at our Fort McHenry Field Days, the planting and launching of our floating wetland this summer, and a dune restoration project in Virginia Beach in November. It is clear that the youths are really taking the experiences to heart.

AOW member Teryn Dixon says participating in conservation events “expands on the classroom activities that we normally participate in. It gives more meaning to what we learned, and gives us a chance to get out of the classroom.” Bri’Anna Horne adds, “Helping the environment is one of the goals of the job. So we should, in a way, practice what we preach.” The hands-on aspect really hits home for Chanel Moore: “It makes me grasp the whole idea, and I love going outside and actually doing the work. Instead of being told about it, I get to experience it.”

Aquarium on Wheels volunteersThese dedicated, insightful students have plenty of advice to offer when it comes to helping the environment and persuading others to join in the conservation fun! Shane Cromwell explains, “Helping the environment is a community problem,” and participating in hands-on work “makes you feel like you are actually being a part of the solution.” Looking to the future, AOW student Kierra Winston says, “Finally, when the Bay is restored, you can feel a sense of accomplishment.”

Please join us for a restoration event in 2011, and keep an eye out for Aquarium on Wheels students lending a hand. After all, in the words of AOW member Teal Hinton, “Four hours of work will make a lifetime of difference.”

Simple Action: Volunteer your time

To celebrate Earth Day, every day this week we are sharing a simple action that can be taken to impact change. Everyone can do something to impact the health of our planet. Today, we’d like to encourage the simple action of volunteering.

Volunteering just a few hours of your time at a neighborhood cleanup or planting event is an easy way to show support for a healthy planet, and can really make an impact. In addition to Earth Day, organizations around the country are also celebrating National Volunteer Week.

In 2009, the Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) helped restore 119 acres of Chesapeake Bay habitat, planted more than 1 million grasses and removed 539,936 pieces of debris from public parks! Only with the help of our dedicated, passionate volunteers are we able to restore habitat and create a cleaner, thriving environment.

While at a dune restoration event last week in Virginia Beach, ACT! stopped by a 2006 project site for monitoring. We are pleased to report the successful revival of the sand dunes at Little Creek, Virginia.

Continue reading ‘Simple Action: Volunteer your time’

Volunteer Spotlight: Planting a milestone

The Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) has seen many great volunteers come and go over the years, but one volunteer who has seen the program through since the very beginning is Mary Sidlowski.  She is a mainstay at nearly every one of our conservation events, a source of inspiration and comic relief. 

Mary began volunteering for the Aquarium in 1993 because she was looking for “a rewarding way to fill her time.”  Since then she has become an integral part of many departments; she divides her time between working in Australia Wild Extremes, the rainforest, membership, education, the Marine Animal Rescue Program, and ACT! 

“I was in ACT! before ACT! existed,” Mary says with a smile.  She recalls a time when the Conservation Team’s only projects were beach clean-ups at Assateague Island, and she says “every year it has gotten better and better.”  Now Mary loves to participate in wetland and dune restoration projects, and really enjoys planting the grasses – even if it means being covered in mud!  “It’s very rewarding work, because you get to immediately see the results of what you’ve done,” she explains. 

Continue reading ‘Volunteer Spotlight: Planting a milestone’

Green Tip: Say no to styrofoam

Last week we explained how precipitation flows downstream. Keep in mind that as the snow in the Mid-Atlantic states begins to melt, trash that is on streets will be picked up with the water and flow downstream into the Chesapeake Bay.  In Baltimore, a lot of that trash washes into a 10 acre urban wetland at Fort McHenry.

A few times a year the Aquarium’s Conservation Team (ACT!) takes on the task of cleaning up the trash and debris that collects in the wetland. And at each event they can count on one thing – finding lots and lots of polystyrene (better known as Styrofoam, which is a trademarked material). 

Continue reading ‘Green Tip: Say no to styrofoam’

An unchanged world

Of all of the places on earth to visit, The Galapagos Islands have been rated one of the top 7 and the trip is said to be a galapagos-piclife-changing experience. With so many beautiful places to visit on earth, what makes these islands so special?

The native species of plants and animals have remained relatively the same since the days of Charles Darwin’s visit in 1835 as the islands are located 600 miles from the mainland. So, in a world that is filled with constant change and the creation of new things, these islands present the rarity of the unchanged.

Visitors are limited to itineraries that are set by the Ecuadorian government. In fact, many areas of the Galapagos National Park are not available for visitation to help manage the impact of people on the ecosystem. And in the areas where visitors can roam, no one is allowed to touch, feed or harass the wildlife.  Before leaving one island and travelling to another, visitors must clean off the soles of their shoes to eliminate the transfer of any plant or animal species from one island to another, as the flora and fauna of each island is unique to that island.

Seem like a lot of rules? Maybe. But it’s these set of rules that make the islands so fascinating. It’s conservation in its truest form. In June, the National Aquarium will embark on an 8 day cruise led by a naturalist and will visit 9 of the 13 main islands of the Galapagos. For more information on how you can join this excursion, click here!


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