(By Dorian Mitchell of The Kent County News – July 24, 2017) TURNERS CREEK — Volunteers from AmeriCorps are spending their summer in Kent County, working to improve the Sassafras Environmental Education Center and to help youngsters learn about the world of nature. Speaking Monday, member Steven Zimmer of Iowa said AmeriCorps is a government-sponsored organization that sends volunteers ages 18 to 24 to various communities throughout the U.S. to “perform needed services.” “We hail from all corners of the country,” Zimmer, 22, said. “So far I’ve been to Pennsylvania, Mississippi and upstate New York.” He said his group, consisting of six other volunteers and a team leader, were sent to the SEEC by the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy in June. They work eight hours a day, five to six days a week, around the center and the Knocks Folly Visitors Center in Kennedyville. Their tasks include working with children in the center’s summer camps, maintaining the surrounding nature trails, removing invasive plant species, performing water quality tests and more. “It’s been hot work,” said Jacob Northcutt-Walker, 19, of Flint, Mich. “But it’s been a good lifestyle experience to be working with plants and water. He said AmeriCorps volunteers serve for 10 months. They average about $13 every day and also have a living stipend. A graduation ceremony is held at the end of their service and each volunteer receives an educational grant of about $5,000. “You also must be able to learn how to conduct yourself as a person,” Northcutt-Walker said. “No one is going to hand you something you didn’t work for.” SEEC Director and former Congressman Wayne Gilchrest said this is the fourth year AmeriCorps volunteers have worked at the center. He called this year’s volunteers a “great group of young people.” “They’re hardworking, enthusiastic and great with the kids,” Gilchrest said. The AmeriCorps volunteers currently are staying in a house
Sure the weather is getting colder, but that doesn't mean we can't still reap the benefits of traversing our local lands, whether it be on a hike, bike, or whatever it is that gets you outside! We created the following list of trails and open spaces as a handy reminder to get out and take a walk in nature during this holiday season. These places are all located in the Mid and Upper Shore counties where ESLC currently serves. Cecil County - Turkey Point Lighthouse http://dnr2.maryland.gov/publiclands/pages/central/elknecklighthouse.aspx Kent County - SEEC @ Turner's Creek Park http://dnr2.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/eastern/sassafras.aspx Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge https://www.fws.gov/refuge/eastern_neck/ Queen Anne’s County - Wye Island State Park http://dnr2.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/eastern/wyeisland.aspx Tuckahoe State Park http://dnr2.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/eastern/tuckahoe.aspx Adkins Arboretum http://www.adkinsarboretum.org/ Caroline County - Lynch Preserve https://www.eslc.org/land-preservation/preserves/ Talbot County - Pickering Creek http://pickeringcreek.audubon.org/ Dorchester County - Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Blackwater/ *Note: Keywallace Trail is closed certain dates for deer management, be sure to check dates before hiking and wear boots. We would like to encourage people to share their photos with ESLC via Facebook and Instagram at @eshorelandc
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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