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READY for Action

As a part of my intern­ship for the Howard County Executive’s Office, I was for­tu­nate enough to work with the amaz­ing peo­ple in Restor­ing the Envi­ron­ment and Devel­op­ing Youth (READY). When I was first asked to vol­un­teer for the pro­gram at the begin­ning of the sum­mer, I was uncer­tain of what to expect. Dur­ing my sum­mer intern­ship, I had become very famil­iar with rain gar­dens and their unique pur­pose of slow­ing down and fil­ter­ing stormwa­ter runoff. I trav­eled the county tak­ing numer­ous pic­tures of rain gar­dens and ana­lyz­ing other best man­age­ment prac­tices. Then after hear­ing so many rav­ing reviews about the READY pro­gram and the beau­ti­ful rain gar­dens they build, I knew that I needed to expe­ri­ence the process firsthand.

For the record, I must say that I am not a gar­dener or fan of hard labor by any means. So I was ini­tially appre­hen­sive when I made plans to work with READY at St. Paul’s church in Mount Airy in the hot August heat. How­ever, when I arrived I was pre­pared to work and help in any way that I could. As we shov­eled, raked, and mulched, I got the chance to meet some of the other youth employees.

It was excit­ing to meet other peo­ple my own age while also build­ing some­thing that would ben­e­fit the entire com­mu­nity. When I asked the READY sum­mer work­ers why they liked work­ing for the pro­gram, nearly all of them said it was because of the qual­ity of peo­ple. I could tell that every­one knew how to have fun, but they were also hard­work­ing and ded­i­cated to the job.

Over­all, I am glad that I got to vol­un­teer with READY and help cre­ate a beau­ti­ful rain gar­den from basi­cally noth­ing. I have a much greater appre­ci­a­tion for the pro­gram and the amount of work these peo­ple put in every day. The READY pro­gram should be applauded and admired for their effort and con­tri­bu­tion to Howard County.

Arlyn­nell Dickson
Howard County Exec­u­tive Intern
Octo­ber 2014

Bug Power

beetle pic

Last week, while mak­ing my way across the office park­ing lot, admir­ing the rain gar­dens in full growth and ready to catch the next round of storm runoff, I noticed what looked like a mot­tled, pol­ished stone in the sea of asphalt. Get­ting closer I real­ized this was no stone… it was mov­ing. When close enough to iden­tify, I quickly reverted back to my child­hood fas­ci­na­tion with insects and was in awe of my lat­est find.

You see, I grew up in a time before orga­nized sports con­sumed week­ends and long before video games were the after school activ­ity of choice. With so much ‘free time’ on our hands and liv­ing on the edge of sub­ur­bia, my friends and I spent time roam­ing the fields and woods behind our neigh­bor­hood. Between the ages of 11–13, we became crazed insect col­lec­tors. Armed with insect nets we would hunt down, iden­tify, and build col­lec­tions of all the bugs we could find. We com­peted to be the first to catch a cer­tain species and traded bugs to fill out the miss­ing parts of our col­lec­tion. We didn’t go any­where with­out our tat­tered insect and but­ter­fly guides stuck in our back pocket.

Great mem­o­ries, but long ago I gave up my insect mania to address what seemed like the big­ger agen­das of envi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment. Yet, that morn­ing on my way into work with my mind full of stormwa­ter man­age­ment pol­icy, best man­age­ment prac­tices, and envi­ron­men­tal per­mit com­pli­ance, I stopped to admire this rather large insect strug­gling to make his way across an end­less park­ing lot. In all my days I had never seen a live Her­cules bee­tle and I thought, what a prize he would have been back in the day. Con­vinced that no one would believe I had seen this crit­ter, I picked him up and put him in my brief­case to show the office mates.

What a hit he was that day! Folks came from all around to see this two and a half inch long bee­tle hang­ing out in a cup on my desk. I was reliv­ing my child­hood, bask­ing in the inter­est my insect friend cre­ated for me and oth­ers. Of course I had to take him home to show my not-so-interested wife (she has a hard time sep­a­rat­ing any bug from stink bugs these days). I put him in a lit­tle ter­rar­ium with a dirt floor, some tree bark for shel­ter and a chunk of melon to feed on. I took a pic­ture of him and sent it to all my friends who I thought might be interested.

Too often we get wrapped up in our jobs and the tan­gen­tial aspects of why we do what we do. Some­times a moment with an insect is needed to refresh the mem­ory as to the impor­tance of envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, why we write these envi­ron­men­tal poli­cies, search for the best man­age­ment prac­tice or make sure all our oper­a­tions are in com­pli­ance with envi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions. Very sim­ply, it is for our envi­ron­ment, the bugs, and the kids who will enjoy their fas­ci­nat­ing life history.

To read about the East­ern Her­cules Bee­tle here are some links:
http://bugguide.net/node/view/2877 http://arthurevans.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/453/.

Foot­note: After a few days of obser­va­tion, and won­der­ing if I could keep this bug as a pet like a kid with a her­mit crab, I chose to let him go under a hedge near our house to live out his life where he was meant to be.

Jim Cald­well
Sep­tem­ber 2012

Green Tip

Unplug.40% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while they’re turned off.