Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Marylanders Grow Oysters à la Maryland Life Magazine

It's spring, which must mean that it's oyster season in 3rd grade here at Eagle Cove School
All year in science, my 3rd grade students tend their wee oyster spat weekly.  They take water temperature measurements, salinity measurements, and oyster measurements!  The ultimate goal:  they are raising the oysters for spring release, when they've grown enough to be put back into the Magothy River. 
That trip for us is next week....so more on that then.
This week, it just so happens to be perfectly timed with the "Marylanders Grow Oysters" article by Jennifer Keats Curtis in the May 2011 edition of Maryland Life Magazine. See below the article copied in it's entirety. To view the article from the Maryland Life website (and much more!), go to http://www.marylandlife.com/articles/marylanders-grow-oysters.

Ju11 Oyster story Marylanders Grow Oysters

May 16, 2011

Last year, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) delivered nearly 10,000 oyster cages and spat (grown at the University of Maryland Center For Environmental Science’s Horn Point Laboratory in Cambridge) to points along 19 Chesapeake Bay tributaries as part of the Marylanders Grow Oysters program.

And they’re doing it again this year.

At these designated drop-off points, volunteer coordinators help distribute the bivalves to anyone interested in growing oysters. They continue to do so until late spring, when the oysters should be large enough to be transported and planted in sanctuaries.

In Pasadena, the Eagle Cove School has become an oyster-holding and spat-distribution station for the program, a cooperative effort among the ORP, the University of Maryland, and the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Eagle Cove’s staff, volunteers, and students work with the Magothy River Association to give away all of the oysters (save the ones that the third-graders grow and care for throughout the school year).

“All of the students get involved, beginning in September when the kindergartners use wagons to lug the oyster shells down to the water,” says third-grade teacher Vicki Dabrowka.

“Every Friday, the third-graders go out to the dock to analyze the oysters. They check the salinity and the temperature and they chart their findings throughout the year.”

The project ends with the students and oysters aboard a Chesapeake Bay Foundation boat.
“We load up right at the dock and take the oysters to the sanctuaries,” says Dabrowka. “The kids study the maps and talk about what needs to be done. We perform different tasks and then chuck the oysters over as the kids yell, 'Be free!'”

She adds, “In 19 years of teaching, I consider this the best field trip ever.”

Dabrowka’s daughter, Delaney, a third-grader, agrees.

“We’re in charge of oyster cages and if we don’t take care of them, then the oysters get bad and they could die,” she says.  “We all like to take care of them. It’s important.”

Chris Judy, Maryland DNR’s shellfish manager, notes that volunteers - who can help identify waterfront property owners willing to become oyster growers and/or deliver oyster cages - are always needed.

For more information, visit www.oysters.maryland.gov.

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