If someone were to ask you what an average twenty-something would be doing before noon on a Saturday morning, what would you say? I’m going to guess sleeping. Well, I am proud to say that a few Saturdays ago, some of my co-workers and I broke this mold.
When I started working for the Chesapeake Bay Program about two months ago and moved from just north of D.C. to Annapolis, a former co-worker recommended I look into attending St. Martin’s Lutheran Church. On my first Sunday there, I noticed a write-up in the bulletin about a rain garden planting that would be taking place a few months down the road, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to get involved.
St. Martin’s received a $109,000 Small Watershed Grant from the Bay Program and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to plant 23 rain gardens and 23 trees on its property. One rain garden and all 23 trees were to be planted on a Saturday in November, while the rest of the project was to be finished in the spring. The Spa Creek Conservancy, which is responsible for managing the grant, predicts that the new trees and rain gardens will reduce runoff from the property by 97 percent. The church’s day school plans on incorporating the plantings into its lesson plans and engaging the young students as much as possible in local environmental issues.
Most of the volunteers that arrived that Saturday were either senior members of the church community or children who attend the day school. This made the job of planting the 23 trees and rain garden seem like much more of a challenge. But I was surprised to find that everyone found a task to complete and the group finished the plantings on time.
I remember looking up from the tree we were planting and seeing all of the volunteers working together on this early Saturday morning. I thought that if everyone planted a rain garden, or even a tree, what a difference it would make for the health of the Chesapeake Bay.
Many of my co-workers who joined me at the planting used the event for certain projects that they were working on for the Bay Program. Members of our communications team took pictures and video to post on our website, while other staffers were interested in learning more from the Spa Creek Conservancy about similar projects. Although we each came with our own agenda, in the end, our biggest accomplishment was that we did something positive for the Bay.
Sometimes when you work for an environmental program, like the Chesapeake Bay, you forget what it really takes to make a change. Sure, making policy or informational videos and collecting data have a large impact, but what is really going to save the Chesapeake Bay are voluntary actions made by people in communities around the watershed. That Saturday at St. Martin’s, we were actually practicing what we preached, and I think that was the best message of all. A Saturday morning well spent.