Fullscreen background image

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

Hi, I’m Howard and I’m here to provide you with green tips. Look for me throughout the site and check out my cool interactive games at the Kids Zone.