Fullscreen background image

Students Branching Out at Glenwood MS

Stu­dents Branch­ing Out is a Howard County project to involve stu­dents in local tree plant­ing projects. The most recent site was at Glen­wood Mid­dle School. This was a new twist on the project because it was the first time that we planted trees on school grounds. That made involv­ing the stu­dents eas­ier, since all we had to do was walk across the school fields to get there.

Despite some weird weather we had in Decem­ber – freez­ing cold and snowy, then warm and the ground too squishy to deliver the trees — we were able to get 3 classes of stu­dents from Glen­wood Mid­dle to work around their jam-packed school sched­ules to plant trees with us on Decem­ber 20th. That was the very last day before win­ter break.

Teacher Kelly Storr was amaz­ing in her enthu­si­asm and flex­i­bil­ity when we had to post­pone a cou­ple of times. On the plant­ing day, half of the time was spent dis­cussing and learn­ing about the project and the other half plant­ing. The stu­dents asked some great ques­tions and had a blast plant­ing the trees and get­ting muddy.

Here is some more back­ground on the project:

  • This project in par­tic­u­lar encour­aged us to work across agen­cies. The Glen­wood plant­ing involved the Howard County Schools grounds depart­ment, the teach­ers and prin­ci­pal, as well as the Howard County Bureau of Envi­ron­men­tal Ser­vices, Recre­ation and Parks’ Nat­ural Resources Divi­sion, and the Office of Envi­ron­men­tal Sustainability.
  • We planted 1450 trees on 7.5 acres. Most were planted by pri­vate con­trac­tors. Local busi­nesses KCI Tech­nolo­gies and Holmes Land­scap­ing were hired, pro­mot­ing local busi­ness and jobs.
  • All the trees planted were native species — pin oak, white oak, ser­vice­berry, sugar maple and black gum.
  • The trees and con­trac­tor sup­port were funded by Gov­er­nor O’Malley’s Stream Chal­lenge grant program.
  • Con­vert­ing this area from grass to trees will reduce the time, energy, and money spent on mow­ing and pro­vide habitat.

We’re plan­ning on going back again in the spring to work with the stu­dents and give them a chance to use these trees as a learn­ing resource. We hope that it will con­tinue to be a part of their learn­ing each year.

Elissa Rei­neck

Decem­ber 2013

Going Green: College Student Edition

Image from http://www.americanconsumernews.com/2009/02/the-cost-of-clutter.html

Image from http://www.americanconsumernews.com/2009/02/the-cost-of-clutter.html

This blog was writ­ten by for­mer Office of Envi­ron­men­tal Sus­tain­abil­ity intern Mar­gette Bourne. Thanks, Mar­gette for your blog and all your work at OES!


Col­lege. The word brings thoughts of free­dom, crammed dorms, par­ties, and all-nighters in the library. When I accepted my offer to the Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land, these were the kinds of things I was think­ing about. Mov­ing from the rou­tine of high school and liv­ing at home to the mas­sive scope of a state uni­ver­sity cam­pus, I did not ini­tially think of how such a change would alter the ways I attempted to live an eco-friendly lifestyle.

Liv­ing on cam­pus gives stu­dents many oppor­tu­ni­ties to reduce their impact on the Earth, but also many ways to aggra­vate envi­ron­men­tal prob­lems. For starters, liv­ing on a cam­pus means not hav­ing a car. I, along with the vast amount of other car-less stu­dents, was sav­ing energy every­day by sim­ply not hav­ing to drive to school. While Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land is a large cam­pus and many stu­dents took it upon them­selves to buy mopeds to tra­verse from class to class, most stu­dents either walk or bike. Not only was I get­ting exer­cise every­day from walk­ing all over the 1,250 acre cam­pus, I was sav­ing lots of energy.

The din­ing hall can be a trap for stu­dents to make envi­ron­men­tally poor deci­sions. While the din­ing hall offers reusable dish­ware, there are also the piles of car­ry­out mate­ri­als from to-go cups and trays to plas­tic uten­sils. These can be con­ve­nient, but they also cre­ate a pile of exces­sive waste. I don’t always stay in the din­ing hall to eat, but it seems waste­ful to me to take car­ry­out mate­ri­als every time. So, I resorted to bring­ing my own Tup­per­ware and uten­sils with me; I would ask the din­ing staff to put my food in the con­tain­ers I brought, which I would eat with my reusable uten­sils, cloth nap­kin, and reusable water bot­tle. Yes, I would receive some weird looks and encounter some con­fused work­ers, but I knew it was worth it.

Live-green chal­lenges did not end in the din­ing hall. Nowa­days, many class mate­ri­als can be found elec­tron­i­cally. To avoid cre­at­ing unnec­es­sary waste, I tried read­ing from my lap­top screen for arti­cles and read­ings that were placed online. It wasn’t always easy, but I saved hun­dreds of sheets of paper by doing so. If I had to print some­thing, I would choose to print pages front and back to save paper.

Also, there were the usual prac­tices of turn­ing off all the lights when leav­ing my room, recy­cling all the paper and plas­tics pos­si­ble, and unplug­ging unused elec­tron­ics. Some of these tips many seem obvi­ous, but not every­one knows how great an impact these small changes can make. Whether doing some­thing as sim­ple as turn­ing off the lights when you leave a room or some­thing as great as con­vert­ing to sus­tain­able energy sources, stu­dents, col­lege cam­puses, and every­one alike can pro­mote envi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity. The Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land won America’s Green­est Cam­pus Con­test in 2009 and has a stu­dent body that is actively push­ing for clean energy on cam­pus. It goes to show that peo­ple can come to together, by doing small and great actions alike, to make an envi­ron­men­tal difference.

~Mar­gette Bourne, OES Intern

August 2012


Back to Green School

Green School (2)_small

Con­grat­u­la­tions to Howard County’s newest Green Schools! Howard County now has 42 offi­cial “green” schools, the most recent 9 being selected ear­lier this year. What does it mean to be a green school? In Mary­land, it means that these schools have com­pleted a 2-year process of inte­grat­ing green prac­tices and edu­ca­tion into the way they do things. Then they put together an appli­ca­tion that was reviewed and approved by the Mary­land Asso­ci­a­tion for Envi­ron­men­tal and Out­door Edu­ca­tion (MAEOE). This is a big accom­plish­ment and takes a lot of effort by teach­ers, stu­dents, and volunteers.

This pro­gram is great because it sets up a struc­ture and guid­ance for how to go about “green­ing” your school. Many peo­ple have good inten­tions to reduce their impact on the envi­ron­ment, but some­times the amount of infor­ma­tion out there can be over­whelm­ing. It also has a big impact because it changes the way the school oper­ates, and these have last­ing effects. Even bet­ter, it brings envi­ron­men­tal aware­ness and empow­er­ment to stu­dents. They par­tic­i­pate in research­ing the issues, mak­ing a plan and tak­ing action.

Schools have improved their recy­cling and waste reduc­tion. They have reduced the amount of energy they use. They have edu­cated stu­dents (and teach­ers) about water con­ser­va­tion and habi­tat preser­va­tion. They have cre­ated school­yard habi­tats, but­ter­fly gar­dens and rain gardens.

Another impor­tant part of the Mary­land Green School pro­gram is form­ing part­ner­ships with the com­mu­nity. This is done in two ways, bring­ing local experts like Mas­ter Gar­den­ers in to help, and tak­ing action out­side of the school grounds with projects like storm drain sten­cil­ing and build­ing oys­ter reef habi­tats that are put into the Chesa­peake Bay.

I can’t say enough what a big fan I am of this pro­gram. It gets the con­ver­sa­tion started and pro­vides a frame­work for schools to fol­low. Con­grat­u­la­tions again to all of the Howard County Green Schools – you deserve it! For a com­plete list of Mary­land Green Schools listed by county, please visit http://www.maeoe.org/greenschools/listing/

Elissa Rei­neck, OES Envi­ron­men­tal Vol­un­teer Coordinator

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.