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’
Thanks to the support of our hard-working volunteers, 2009 has been incredibly productive for the National Aquarium’s Conservation Team. Throughout the year, 4 large-scale planting events translated into 10 critical acres restored – that’s 144,000 plants that will provide valuable habitat and help to slow shoreline erosion!
Our restoration projects took us to many beautiful areas throughout the Chesapeake Bay. The planting season kicked off just outside of Cambridge, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. In May, fifty-two volunteers and 90 students joined us on Barren Island to plant 3 acres of restored offshore habitat, created from repurposed dredge material. The marsh grasses we provided are a huge part of the recipe that turns dredge material into viable wetland habitat, making it possible to rebuild islands that have dramatically eroded over the last century.
Poplar Island is a similar restoration project off of Tilghman Island MD, in the central region of the Bay. Dredge material is again being used to rebuild the severely eroded Island to its original 1000 acres. The Aquarium Conservation Team, along with 268 volunteers and students, planted 3 acres of wetland grasses on the island in June. As more dredge material is brought in and settles into plant-able areas, the National Aquarium will continue to return to the island to be a part of the restoration process. The next Poplar Island planting project is expected to take place in the summer of 2011.
Click here to learn more about Poplar Island and the beneficial use of dredge material.
Continue reading ‘Restoring valuable habitats’
The National Aquarium’s Conservation Team once again hosted several Fort McHenry Field Days throughout the year to tackle Chesapeake Bay pollution on the home front. Thanks to an outpouring of hard work and support from 304 volunteers, we were able help the small marsh by removing debris that would eventually choke out native plants and reduce the habitat value for the animals that make the marsh their home.
In all, roughly 33,000 pieces of debris were removed from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. These Field Days involve more than just clean-up, and in 2009 volunteers also helped maintain native rain and butterfly gardens and plant trees. This wetland at Fort McHenry is one of the only living shoreline areas in the Harbor, and it is heavily utilized by many Bay dwellers and migrating birds. We thank all of you who came together to make this a cleaner and safer place for these animals.
The Aquarium’s conservation team will hold more clean-up events in 2010. For details on how you can participate, please click here.