MILLERSVILLE, MD (April 29, 2005) -- Students, parents and administrators of Shipley’s Choice Elementary School dedicated the school’s bog on Wednesday. Created by students with help from the Maryland Department of the Environment and Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center, the environmental education program of the Anne Arundel County’s Public School system, the bog is the result of a Green School project with the aim of becoming a learning classroom on school property. Chesapeake Bay Trust and PTA funds also contribute to the success of the project.
“These projects are at the core of our mission to foster environmental education for the benefit of the environment, public health, and future generations,” said Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick. “Participating and supporting an effort such as this is among the most important work we do.”
As part of the dedication ceremony, interpretive signs were unveiled and students performed “Amazing Adventures in the Bog,” a play depicting important functions of the school’s bog. The students played the role of various contaminants, rainfall and the vegetation that make bogs unique.
In recent years, bogs, a specialized type of wetland with very acidic soil, low nutrients and highly specialized plant life, have been in amazing decline in the state due to development encroachment and lack of awareness. Bogs are granted special protection as they are wetlands of special state concern. Bogs exist in Maryland from coastal areas to the mountains.
The unique plants in the school’s restorative bog serve to create a diverse environment and habitat for birds and frogs on the property. The site is well suited for a bog due to its terrain. The bog helps treat runoff from the school’s parking lot and roof, ease erosion, controls sediment and flooding in the area and allows nature to return to natural processes.
It was the school’s recent graduating fifth grade class that launched the effort to develop the National Park Service quality signs with the idea to ensure that future students and community understand bogs and their important function in our environment.
“This is a celebration of taking care of our environment, helping children understand that we are all responsible,” said Shipley’s Choice Elementary Principal Dr. Linda Ferrara. “This bog helps filter water going into the bay and we need to take care of our precious resources. The parents are very supportive and it makes me realize there is hope for our environment.”
Construction of the bog began in 2001. The children went outside everyday, watched the bog’s progress and wrote down all they saw, chronicling the plantings, keeping photo and written journals that eventually became take home booklets. Many of the students’ pictures were incorporated into the new informational signs. Every student in the school contributed to the bog by maintaining the area through planting and mulching. On Monday for example, the third-graders put in new plantings of sweetspire, sweet bay magnolia, summersweet clethra and Christmas ferns.
Third grade teacher Cindy Pumphrey has been a part of the bog project since its inception. “It’s a great feeling...a feeling of accomplishment,” she said. “To see the kids enjoy the learning and being outside and understanding they have a big part of saving their environment and working with it is wonderful.”
“The main thing is they are excited about coming to school,” Pumphrey added. “All of a sudden learning has become fun. It’s not just out of books, it’s out of the environment and they are taking ownership of it all. They say, ‘This is my world. I am a part of it and learning about it and doing something about it. I love to be in school.’ And that’s important!”
In addition to $5,000 given for the school bog, a community bog stormwater management project across the street obtained $93,000 from MDE’s Water Quality Infrastructure Program to broaden the effort.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Photos available upon request.