Simple Action: Volunteer your time

Published April 20, 2010

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.

The photos below depict a section of dune that was freshly planted in 2006, and how it looks today. Using the building in the background and the dune fencing as benchmarks, it is easy to see that the area of beach our volunteers planted is now a successful dune. The low area from the 2006 photo has completely filled in, and the plants and fencing acted to collect sand to double the existing dune’s width. 

So why is the restoration of these dunes important? This extra defense has been vital to the protection of the buildings just behind the dunes. Recent storms, such as Tropical Storm Ida, created intense wave action and storm surge that overwashed dunes along many areas of the beaches, which caused flooding and saltwater intrusion into local groundwater.  In other parts of the beach, the dunes did their job of protecting inland areas, but they paid the price--in some places, steep drop-offs are all that remain of the large dunes.

This project wouldn't have been completed without the help of our community volunteers. The Aquarium has formed partnerships with various organizations throughout the Bay region to create volunteer opportunities to restore tidal wetlands through cleanups and grass plantings. Check out our upcoming event, and sign up to receive updates on how you can get involved in creating a cleaner, greener Earth.
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