Students from across Maryland will be releasing classroom-raised horseshoe crabs at Sandy Point State Park over several days this month, part of an award-winning multi-partner environmental education program that teaches young people about this vital living resource. Now in its 11th year, Raising Horseshoe Crabs in the Classroom is coordinated by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
“This is truly an outstanding program,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “Here we have children studying the horseshoe crab in school – its life cycle, its contributions to our ecosystem and human health, and the management issues surrounding it – and then going out to the beach to release the crabs they’ve raised into their natural habitat. We not only talk about children connecting with nature and growing to become informed, responsible stewards of our planet. Through programs like this, we put that commitment to action.”
The releases mark the culmination of months of study for students involved in the Raising Horseshoe Crabs in the Classroom program. The releases are an opportunity for the students to celebrate what they have learned, release horseshoe crabs they have raised, and participate in a host of hands-on activities. At each event, students who were involved in raising the crabs will visit several stations with information about the horseshoe crab’s life history, the ecological relationship between the crabs and migratory shorebirds, and how to survey and estimate horseshoe crab populations.
The Raising Horseshoe Crabs in the Classroom release events will take place at Sandy Point State Park’s East Beach on:
Tuesday, May 12
St. Mark School (Baltimore County) – 41 students
Harbour School (AA County) – 25 students
Bel Air Middle School (Harford County) – 30 students
APG Co-op Homeschool (Harford County) – 12 students
Thursday, May 14
Annapolis Homeschool Community (AA County) – 50 students
Roberto Clemente MS (Montgomery County) – 75 students
Tuesday, May 19
Creative Kids, Inc. (Baltimore County) – 7 students
City Neighbors Charter School (Baltimore City) – 35 students
Aleph Bet Jewish Day School (Anne Arundel County) – 17 students
Somerset Intermediate School (Somerset County) – 25 students
Thursday, May 21
JC Parks Elementary School (Charles County) – 90 students
HOPE Homeschool Co-op (Frederick County) – 50 students
Raising Horseshoe Crabs in the Classroom is a DNR program that affords teachers and students alike the opportunity to better understand the scientific process through the collection of valuable scientific information. Teachers are provided with the equipment, an activity guide and horseshoe crab eggs to support the learning of ecological, medical and historical importance of the species. Schools participating in the program include elementary, middle and high schools in the public, private, and home-school domains throughout the state of Maryland.
Teachers are required to attend a 6-hour training workshop. At the workshop, they learn about the life history, management, and development of both eggs and juvenile horseshoe crabs. In addition, they will receive horseshoe crab eggs collected by DNR biologists, learn to set up and maintain their aquarium, monitor the environmental and chemical conditions, and review lesson plans. Thirty new teachers are accepted each year.
In April 2008 Governor Martin O’Malley established the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature (CIN) by Executive Order, to develop and implement a plan to provide youth with structured and unstructured opportunities for play, outdoor recreation, learning and scientific study and an environmental literacy plan. The Partnership presented its report and recommendations to the Governor on April 21, 2009, as the Governor announced the Maryland Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights
Last year under the CIN initiative, Governor O’Malley created the Maryland Civic Justice Corps, a summer job and environmental education program that employs at risk youth in Maryland State Parks, which will be expanding this summer. During the 2009 legislative session, the O’Malley-Brown Administration secured record funding for Maryland’s #1 ranked public schools for the third consecutive year, investing more than $5.5 billion this year in our schools.
For more information on the Raising Horseshoe Crabs in the Classroom program, check out DNROnline (http://dnr.maryland.gov) or contact Laura Rowan at 410-260-8775 or by email at email@example.com.