By Mary Maushard
More than 3,000 students from 100 schools around Maryland kicked off their summer with a day at the Bay — and a celebration of their hard work and dedication to the state’s environment.
The Maryland Association for Environmental & Outdoor Education (MAEOE) Annual Youth Summit at Sandy Point State Park was a day to enjoy sun and sand, discover what others in the state are doing to protect the environment and find new resources for both students and teachers. The summit theme was “Full Steam Ahead: Hold the Environment in the Highest E-Steam.”
Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles, Secretary of Natural Resources Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, and Deputy Superintendent Carol Williamson and Assistant State Superintendent Marcia Sprankle, both from the Maryland State Department of Education, joined the students and teachers. They praised and thanked everyone for their commitment to the environment. “It all starts with you,” said Grumbles.
The day’s agenda included a diamondback terrapin egg activity led by Maryland Environmental Service educators on behalf of the Port, youth leadership projects and an environmental literacy fair. The day ended with award ceremonies for newly certified and recertified Green Schools. Katrina Jones, Outreach Coordinator for Harbor Development at the Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA), was an emcee for one of the ceremonies. Jones is also a past president of MAEOE, representing MDOT MPA.
Green Schools is the signature program of MAEOE, providing educational tools and support for pre-k–12 schools that promote responsible environmental stewardship practices and increase awareness of how an individual’s relationship with the environment affects public health and society. More than 600 Maryland public and independent schools — 31 percent — are certified as Green Schools.
Maryland’s new Green Schools Act of 2019 will provide funding, beginning in 2020, to schools that want to become Green Schools in an effort to increase certified schools to 50 percent of Maryland’s 2,200 public and independent schools.