South County Welcomes Two Chesapeake Conservation Corps Volunteers for 2013-2014
A new crop of 26 Chesapeake Conservation Corps (CCC) volunteers were introduced on Tuesday, including two who will spend the next year volunteering their time in South County. At a ceremony at the Annapolis Maritime Museum, the CCC workers were paired with mentors from local environmental organizations to spend a year working on projects to benefit the Chesapeake Bay.
Each volunteer spends the year working on a variety of environmental initiatives including watershed restoration, community outreach, environmental education, reforestation and a capstone project. Each volunteer is paired with a mentor at their host organization.
The program is administered by the Chesapeake Bay Trust.
The CCC was founded in 2010 as a service-learning opportunity for young people, ages 18 to 25. It was created by the Maryland Legislature. At the ceremony, Maryland state Senate Speaker Mike Miller and state Sen. John Astle said that the program has been great in the fight for the Bay.
“This year we had 150 vying for slots, and you 26 were selected,” Astle said, adding that the program often leads to jobs with the host organizations or leads to a job in the field of environmental science.
Del. Shane Robinson said that the program has been compared to the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps.
“The last class educated thousands of K through 12 students, planted thousands of trees and created thousands of rain gardens,” he said.
Caroline Rodriguez will be working with the South River Federation. Her mentor will be riverkeeper Diana Muller. Muller said that SRF has an action plan for Rodriguez and that the two have been emailing throughout the summer. Muller said that they hope to utilize Rodriguez to continue and strengthen their water quality monitoring effort and field work. She said that one of the things they are working on is optical brighteners, which can source septic tank leaks. Muller said she hopes that Rodriguez will be able to help her in that effort.
Previously, Rodriguez worked with the North Carolina Coastal Federation on oyster recovery. She also worked with the University of North Carolina-Wilmington to educate children.
Rodriguez said that the selection process was, “a little like speed dating—or maybe a sorority rush.”
Muller agreed that the process can feel a little awkward. There are interviews with each candidate and host organization, then they rank each other in terms of preference. From there, the Chesapeake Bay Trust pairs up the CCC volunteers and mentors.
At the end of her term, Rodriguez hopes to continue her schooling.
Samuel Hartman will be volunteering with the West/Rhode Riverkeeper. His mentor is Joe Ports, himself a CCC volunteer. Ports completed his year with the West Rhode Riverkeeper two years ago and was hired on as staff. He’s currently the restoration coordinator.
Hartman is a graduate of Washington College on the Eastern Shore, where he majored in environmental science. He spent his study abroad year in Ecuador where he studied human’s impact on endangered ecosystems. He said that he’s interested in water quality and hoping to work in the area of stormwater runoff and restoration.
Ports said that they have some ideas for Hartman, but they will give him time to get his bearings and develop his own ideas for a capstone project.
The remaining Anne Arundel County volunteers include:
- Candice Hilliard, Annapolis Maritime Museum
- Chase Bergeson, Anne Arundel Watershed Stewards Academy
- Emily Starnes, US Fish And Wildlife Service
- Kathleen Culen, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay
- Marion Clement, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
- Shanita Brown, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay
For a full list of CCC volunteers, visit the Chesapeake Bay Trust.