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Mission Statement
Conserve, steward, and advocate for the unique rural landscape of the Eastern Shore.

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Kent County High School Tag

At Risk Teenagers and a Water Snake – A Memory from Wayne Gilchrest, SEEC Program Director

As we were walking through a patch of young forest on a deer trail filled with periodic spasms of multiflora rose sticker bushes and biting June flies, the “at risk” teenage students from Kent County High School, voiced their displeasure with screams and groans of “You can’t do this to us,” and “This is boring!”  Still we, the teacher and myself, continued walking, issuing words of encouragement and adding things like, “This is what it may have been like before the first humans walked this land, when there were still mastodons and caribou and bears, long before the Chesapeake Bay was formed,” and “You’re walking a trail like the ones the first Americans traveled, following their food source into this untouched wilderness.” Then, as we approached the older forest of towering oaks and beech trees, with a forest floor shaded out by the thick canopy of leaves, thus mostly cleared of obstacles, you could feel an almost imperceptible modicum of attention from the students. The demands of a confined classroom day after day, often cause attention fatigue in students.  This symptom is the result of a setting nearly vacant of natural stimuli and students’ individual insecurities in the classroom. A teacher’s often futile attempts at, “let me have your attention,” voiced repeatedly during the school day are replaced at SEEC (Sassafras Environmental Education Center) by the ancient rhythms of man’s evolving relationship with the wilderness. At last we reach our destination.  A beaver dam.  I step down the slope to stand next to the lodge built into the bank at the edge of the beaver pond.  Ready to explain the ecosystem created by the beaver family, I suddenly see something move out of the corner of my eye at the top of the lodge.   One of my unvoiced fears is about to be

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