WC students “plant with pals” at hands-on, “impactful” CES event

By Maegan White

Elm Staff Writer

On Saturday, March 4, students went to the Sassafras Natural Resource Management Area to plant shrubs, trees, and native plants in support of the Natural Lands Project. 

The Center for Environment and Society Experiential Programs Assistant Emma Cease ‘22 coordinated the event with the CES Fellows. She opened the event to the entire campus to engage all students interested in learning more about the NLP. 

The NLP is run by CES and coordinated by Natural Lands Project Coordinator Dan Small. According to Small, the NLP collaborates with private and public landowners on the Eastern Shore to restore grassland habitat. 

In doing so, the project protects endangered and struggling species like the Northern Bobwhite, the only species of quail on the Eastern Shore. 

Small said that the project is seeing positive results from quail on several project sites. Landowners have reported hearing bobwhites for the first time in years.

“Three properties so far have flushed family groups made up of young birds,” Small said. “We are starting to see that when you create the right kind of habitat, then manage the habitat, birds seem to be able to find the habitat.”

In addition to the work at the Sassafras NRMA, the NLP has used the River and Field Campus as a mode property for developing and expanding different aspects of the project. 

The NLP is funded and supported by CES partners including the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, ShoreRivers, Duck’s Unlimited, Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, and the Lower Shore Land Trust.

The work that students did with the Planting with Pals event is a strong representation of what the organization ordinarily does.

“The CES Natural Lands Project is an incredible program that aims to make the rural landscape of the Eastern Shore more wildlife friendly,” Cease said. “Our planting is a perfect example of the habitat implementation NLP regularly does to improve the overall health of rural landscapes.”

According to Cease, CES hosts events involving students to demonstrate the influence they have on the environment. It additionally gives them an opportunity for hands-on work.

Cease said she is most excited to provide an event that allows students to bond outside of classtime, while making a positive impact on the local environment.

“A lot of our students are passionate about helping the environment and learn about it in their courses, but events such as these provide a real opportunity to get their hands dirty and make a tangible difference,” Cease said.

Small agreed, saying the planting was a great way for more students to learn about the project and get involved in these important restoration initiatives on the Eastern Shore. 

CES provided all the supplies and free Dunkin’ for all the volunteers who showed up on saturday to plant. 

Senior Hannah McCarthy attended the event for her internship at the NLP, but enjoyed spending time at the Sassafras NRMA. 

“[I loved] working outside with a bunch of great people,” McCarthy said. “Many of the volunteers who attended were my friends so we were having fun and catching up while planting the trees. It was also a beautiful day out, so that made the whole event ten times greater.”

CES hosts many events throughout the year open to all students. Follow them on instagram at @cesatwashcoll for more details on the events. 

Photo courtesy of  Olivia Long

Photo Caption: WC students from a variety of academic fields grouped together to help Kent County’s environment.

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