This past June Chincoteague Bay Field Station hosted its first of a series of Community Action Days, bringing these audiences together to learn about ways to adapt to environmental changes like sea level rise. The Action Days are student-run and learner-centered. During our most recent event, team members broke into groups to tackle three main projects:
Many activities at the site are youth-led. All of the project listed above that were completed during this past Community Action Day were researched and organized by a group of undergraduate students and recent graduates. With the help of a few dozen high school students, local families, and other community members, all of the improvements were implemented. A cadre of local families known as the SPARK Living Shoreline Team will monitor the effects of these actions over the course of the next year to determine the success of the actions. A participatory model is at the core of the Living Shoreline; students and families engage in all facets of the project, using scientific methods to produce knowledge about the local issue of sea level rise to bring about change.
Over the course of the next year and a half, CBFS will host seven more Community Action Days and more than 800 students will visit the Living Shoreline to complete service learning projects and learn about building resilient communities in the face of environmental changes. This past spring, 82 students from Stephen Decatur Middle School took on a project to remove the invasive reed Phragmites australis from the marsh, hoping to open space for native marsh grasses to grow. These activities take students and families through the full continuum of environmental education – from critical thinking activities, team-based problem solving, and environmental stewardship.
It's not every Community Action Day that we have a cloudless, eighty-degree, and virtually mosquito-less afternoon, but the commodore and enthusiasm make it feel as close to a beach party as Greenbackville may have ever seen!
Projects at CBFS's Living Shoreline site are funded in part by EPA, NOAA, and Walmart.