The Chesapeake Bay; Bugs, Barf and Botany

1108230891 327937e41a The Chesapeake Bay; Bugs, Barf and Botany

The field trip I looked forward to the most in the sixth grade was a dawn to dusk outdoor education course on the Chesapeake Bay. I knew that field trips requiring parental wavers or signatures were always the most fun, and this particular trip required both and a mandatory change of clothes, which seemed like gift wrapped by the recess gods to me! The big yellow slip I presented to my mom had bold faced type on the bottom declaring “Sneakers may be lost in the swamp, wear an old pair that you do not mind leaving behind.” And on the day of the trip I’m pretty sure I half-heartedly tied my shoes, in the hopes that although I had given them a sporting chance, my sneakers would catch a hint and allow themselves to be lost in the bogs and Oyster beds.

My class and I packed on the school buses at around 6am, and headed off for morning nature walks and ecology sessions with park rangers.  In the afternoon we trolled the bay for fish and crabs, and studied each creature in a holding tank on the boat before returning it to the wild. I remember that although I was disappointed when my sneakers made it though the knee high mud in the tributary habitat, my mood quickly improved when I was skipped over for a live oyster eating contest that ended up sending a few of the participants running for the rails, hurling their lunches up over the sides of the boat.

As the sun was starting to set we stumbled back to the busses purposely sunburned, and exhausted, with a full day of bugs, barf, and botony behind us. The bus ride home was quiet and filled with contentment. We were so tired and excited that not one kid had complained the entire day, and everyone had learned something, and enjoyed themselves.

Looking back, it’s experiences like this that probably pushed me into the my current profession. To this day I find myself overly curious about the natural world, and hardly consider a day of gardening, or landscaping work to be complete if there isn’t a little dirt under my nails. I can’t really imagine a day job that doesn’t involve flora and fauna, so the other day when I was browsing online I found myself staring at a banner for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s “Gardeners for the Bay” pledge, and I felt a little nostalgic.

gftblogo The Chesapeake Bay; Bugs, Barf and Botany

I don’t usually do it, but I signed up and took the pledge to garden in a way that benefits the environment, and eliminates toxic run-off from my yard. Maybe it’s silly, because I’ve already committed to garden without pesticide, and to plant with native plants where possible, but for some reason this particular cause reminded me of my old mud covered sneakers. I felt like my sixth grade self would get a kick out of this pledge, and appreciate what I was doing to try and reduce pollution in the Bay.  I think what really made me sign up is the hope that with sacrifice many more generations of kids will be able to spend a day on the Chesapeake Bay.  Apparently there is little more memorable than outdoor learning for some of us, and the threat of losing your sneakers and lunch only sweetens the deal.

Photo courtesy of DavoPic

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  1. Thank you for signing up! We launched the program this summer and pledgees are creeping up toward the thousand mark. You will receive a packet soon. Good gardening. Jerry Crawford, Gardeners for the Bay administrator.

  2. Thanks Jerry!

  3. Good story, Amy… I always liked those types of field trips too!

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