How much do you or your children know about the Chesapeake Bay? Do you know it is the largest estuary in the United States and that it receives water from New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia? Have you ever experienced first-hand its many ecosystems? Recently a group of young people participating in a Green Adventure Project Expedition got to do just that. They explored the Chesapeake Bay and learned along the way how to protect this beautiful and important resource.
The Green Adventure Project, based in Charlottesville, Virginia, provides experiential nature and science programs with the goal of opening students’ eyes to the natural world around them. “We want young people to have a transformative experience that will foster a lifelong commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability,” explains Miriam Rushfinn, Executive Director of Green Adventure Project.
Five days this spring, students participated in the Chesapeake Discovery Expedition with Green Adventure Project to explore salt marshes, tidal streams, dune formations and the open water of the Chesapeake Bay, while learning about the importance of protecting estuaries. Exploring Cobb Island, Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge and UVA’s Coastal Research Station, the group sampled salinity levels and plant survival. “We could clearly see the transition between the low marsh, high marsh and the limit to where Phragmites, an invasive species, can live,” Emily Beck, Education Director and Expedition leader shared. At Savage Neck Dunes, students observed and measured the slope and transition between the fore dune, back dune, and eroded marsh.
“We encourage our students to work and think like scientists,” shares Rushfinn. “On our expeditions students learn to make observations and collect data following a worldwide sampling protocol. They use binoculars and dip nets and learn to snorkel and paddle kayaks in order to experience these unique ecosystems first-hand. Our goal is for participants to leave having a better understanding of the threats and solutions that face this natural wonder.”
What do parents have to say about this experience? Seventh grade parent, Peggy Menzies shares the transformation she saw in her daughter. “She had an incredible adventure and came home a more self-assured pre-teen. She is still sharing all the information she learned about the world we live in and what she plans to do to help protect it.”
If you would like your child to experience more science and adventure this summer, join Green Adventure Project’s Chesapeake Discovery Expedition in August and Virginia Rocks! Expedition, a geology, rock climbing and caving adventure at the end of July.
Article by Debbie Mickle, Science Matters Project Manager