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Alternative Break at The Chesapeake Bay

What a remarkable spring break! I spent my free time this spring break to aid towards restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. Spent my week with passionate, down to earth people, eating great food, seeing priceless art, seeing beautiful sights, and saving the Chesapeake Bay by doing watershed foresting restoration projects. As a group we’ve created forested buffers and helped recovered oyster populations of the Chesapeake Bay while improving the water quality and health.

Being so passionate about water conservation and saving the environment prompted me to become a site leader for Alternative Break through the Center for Civic Engagement. I originally took this opportunity to force myself out of my shyness and improve my leadership qualities while doing something that I am passionate about. I came into the experience with one attitude and left the trip with an array of knowledge and experiences that I am so grateful for. Our Alternative Break trip worked with The Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Annapolis, Maryland. It was a long 9-hour car ride through South Carolina, Virginia, Washington Dc, and then to Maryland. We left on Saturday the 17th in the morning and arrived at Camp Letts (our camp grounds) later that evening.

On Monday, we drove to Washington DC, and we were able to tour the National Holocaust Museum and National Gallery of Art. These two places were astonishing, and I saw priceless art and learned some astonishing facts about the Holocaust. Along with witnessing the artifacts from the two museums, we also stopped by the White House, Lincoln Memorial, and Vietnam exhibit. The most memorable part of that day was the food. The restaurant’s name was Busboys and Poets in the vegan options were incredible. This restaurant was in the top 3 restaurants to eat at in Washington DC, and one of Obama’s favorite restaurants. 10/10

On Tuesday, we drove to Westminster and enjoyed a nice day out on a farm field, working on forest buffers to absorb the extra nitrogen and phosphorous running off from the corn fields. We learned out agriculture is the number 1 contributor to the havoc happening in the Chesapeake Bay, so our efforts were put forth to create buffer zones by planting trees, to prevent runoff.

On Wednesday, we stayed on our camping grounds because there was a blizzard. Seeing snow on the beautiful landscape was so beautiful and I stayed outside to admire the scenery.

On Thursday, the snow cleared up a little bit and we set forth on a fishing boat to learn about the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay and the different organisms that call the Chesapeake Bay their home. Very eye opening to the array of plant and animal species that live in the Bay.

On Friday, we built an shell shaker and shook recycled oyster shells to form new oyster communities. We built this machinery from scratch so the work was very enduring. Not only did we built it, we also participated with the oyster shell shaking efforts to get clean oyster shelling usable to create homes for baby oysters.

All in all, this trip was remarkable and so much fun. I learned so much new information about living more sustainably and met so many new people that is just as passionate about this issue as I am. Great experience and I wouldn’t have spent my spring break any other way.

 

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