CENTREVILLE — Queen Anne’s County students in environmental science classes and masonry career-and-technical education courses are working together to build 300 reef balls for shoreline protection and new marine habitat in the Chesapeake Bay. They are gaining the knowledge and practical skills for sustainable careers including habitat restoration, environmental education and research.

“I want to thank our partners for supporting our students and helping us make learning relevant and connected to our community and its surroundings,” said Dr. Andrea M. Kane, Superintendent of Queen Anne’s County Public Schools.

The two-year project received funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program for priority habitat restoration projects and shoreline resiliency. Students from both Queen Anne’s County High School and Kent Island High School are building and “hatching” the reef balls. The FWS and several nonprofits are partnering to support this unique hands-on, cross-curricular project.

“The opportunity to partner with Queen Anne’s County Public Schools, Coastal Conservation Association, and Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center is an acknowledgment that we are all-in for education and restoring the Chesapeake Bay,” said David Sutherland, biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Chesapeake Bay Field Office

Environmental education students began building reef balls in the fall. Masonry students joined the project this month and will continuing building through spring 2021. The reef balls will be placed in the waters outside the CBEC in Grasonville to dissipate wave energy, provide fish and oyster habitat and control erosion.

“The project is fundamentally what environmental literacy is all about – creating stewards through awareness, engagement and action. The education system of the future needs to intertwine classroom learning with real-world application and that’s what CBEC and our partners from Coastal Conservation Association and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are doing with this project.” said Vicki Paulas, CBEC assistant director.

Future topics for QACPS environmental education could include field trips to the CBEC for surveys and reef ball monitoring.

“CCA Maryland is proud to continue working with Queen Anne County Public Schools to expand the work of the Living Reef Action Campaign, our flagship habitat and education program. Clean water and improved habitat are something we can and will achieve by working together with future generations of conservation minded citizens and anglers,” said David Sikorski, executive director, Coastal Conservation Association Maryland.

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