The Wetland Nursery Program is a yearlong experience that provides hands-on conservation opportunities to students throughout the Chesapeake Bay region. As part of the program, the National Aquarium works with teachers and students to raise native wetland plants in nursery ponds at their schools. At the end of the school year, students take a field trip and use the plants they successfully raised to restore wetlands in their local watershed.
The National Aquarium worked with nine schools this year, engaging over 330 students and planting more than 9,600 plants! Restoration sites included Nassawango Creek Preserve, Masonville Cove, Cove Point, South River and New York. While in New York, the Aquarium’s Urban Conservation & Education interns worked with Tanglewood Nature Center staff to provide assist students planting freshwater wetland plants.
Most schools grow smooth cordgrass for shoreline habitats, but the program is adapted for various habitats throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. In New York, for example, schools raise swamp milkweed and blue flag iris to restore freshwater swamp habitats at the northernmost part of the watershed. On Maryland’s Eastern Shore, schools raise Atlantic white cedar trees intended for forested swamp habitats.
Together, these students helped restore a variety of key Chesapeake Bay habitats, including those in urbanized areas of Annapolis and Baltimore City. After completing the program, one student said, “I thought this experience was really fun and interesting. I like knowing that my small efforts will make a bigger impact somewhere else.” The valuable field conservation experiences gained through this program help students build meaningful connections with the habitats they work to restore. Their efforts also ensure healthier Chesapeake Bay waterways.
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