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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

Turn off water while brushingTurning off the water between rinses can save at least two gallons in one brushing session.