Brown, Middleton Hold Wetland Anniversary Celebrations

LA PLATA, Md. (May 5, 2009)—Arthur Middleton and Dr. Gustavus Brown elementary schools held wetlands festival celebrations on Friday, April 17, to commemorate the second anniversary of the opening of the wetlands areas behind each school.

Middleton and Brown both have wetland areas located behind each school that are filled with plants native to Southern Maryland wetland areas, and brush piles to house fish, birds and other local wildlife.

Students at Middleton participated in different hands-on activity sessions focusing on aspects of the 12-acre wetland area. These activities included students digging for clay to study wetland soil and ground components, catching tadpoles and other fish to observe species native to wetland areas, observing animal tracks in surrounding areas, planting bird seed and participating in nature hunts to experience sights, sounds and textures found in wetland areas.

Staff from the Nanjemoy Creek Environmental Education Center area also visited the school to introduce students to wildlife animals, such as raptors and birds, and talked about their relation to the wetland area.

Richard Andrews, Middleton's science teacher, helped coordinate the event and said the areas are used to teach students how wetland areas help clean water, relieve pollution, control runoff and prevent erosion. "The idea was to get people out there so they could experience the wonder of this amazing resource," Andrews said.

Students at Brown also participated in different hands-on activity sessions based outdoors, in and around the 30-acre wetland area. Students located wetland plants and animals during a scavenger hunt, built paper boats and telescopic viewers to sail and view native birds, caught tadpoles to view fish wildlife and created tree designs out of paper and crayons to study trees. The Charles County Department of Public Facilities also gave a presentation about recycling initiatives students can practice in school and at home.

Students also participated in a "bird clues" event in which they visited with an owl from the Nanjemoy Creek Environmental Education Center and learned about native wetland birds.

Plans to create wetland areas behind both schools, located in the Carrington community of St. Charles, originated in 2005 through the Charles County Department of Planning and Growth Management, the Board of Commissioners and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The wetland areas were constructed to aid in water restoration in the community. The sites were constructed with wetland and upland plants native to the region. More than 1,200 Charles County Public Schools students participated last school year in planting the 29,000 plants used to construct the wetland areas.

Source: Charles County public school system

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