Students, educators, and dignitaries at the ribbon cutting of the Cambridge-South Dorchester High School outdoor classroom and meadow.

On June 2, Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) and 9th graders at Cambridge-South Dorchester High School (CSDHS) held a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new outdoor classroom and meadow they created on campus. MRC has been working with 9th graders in Dorchester County Public Schools throughout the school year, providing a Meaningful Watershed Education Experience through MRC’s Students for Streams initiative, a sustained program of study that is part of Maryland’s environmental literacy graduation requirement.

Funded in Dorchester County by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Students for Streams is MRC’s high school environmental education program. This yearlong program includes multiple in-class lessons led by MRC education staff, field trips to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center, and a student-led action project focusing on local water quality.

As part of the program, students proposed a project to improve local water quality. For their action project, the 9th grade environmental science classes at CSDHS created an outdoor classroom and meadow. Students researched native plants, constructed benches and bird boxes for the outdoor classroom, installed an outdoor whiteboard for classes, designed and painted pavers to create a walkway through the meadow, and planted native species that help with nutrient runoff and act as natural pollinators for butterflies and bees.

During the ribbon cutting ceremony, students welcomed everyone and explained the projects from start to finish to audience members, including Delegate Johnny Mautz, Delegate Chris Adams, Dorchester Chamber of Commerce Bill Thompson, Chamber of Commerce board members, MRC Founder Tim Junkin, and funders Britt Slattery and Amanda Sullivan from DNR.

Students explained that they selected this particular student-led action project because the meadow helps reduce the runoff coming from campus which feeds into Maple Dam Creek and ultimately Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. After submitting a proposal and gaining permission from Principal Bromwell, every 9th grade student played a role in accomplishing the project. The students were excited to share what they had learned during the Students for Streams program and to cut the ribbon on the new outdoor classroom and meadow.

For more information about Students for Streams, contact Elle O’Brien at elle@midshoreriverkeeper.org or 443.385.0511.

CLICK HERE to read related article in Dorchester Star.