Students Help Effort to Restore Oyster Habitat

Students at one Calvert County school are getting their hands dirty by helping with habitat enhancement and oyster restoration.

Fifty students, along with a dozen parents and faculty at Tidewater School in Huntingtown are assisting the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative by creating several cement reef balls that will be dropped to the bottom of Chesapeake Bay.

Recently school students, from preschool to fifth grade, helped mix the concrete and pour the cement into mold. Before deployment each student added their own shell to be embedded in the reef balls as a reminder of their connection to the marine life in the bay.

After each reef ball is set and dried, the balls will be dropped by barge to the bottom of the bay to create a new artificial reef this summer.

“Kids really love learning from something tangible, something they can touch and feel,” Program Coordinator Michael Malpezzi said. “Reef balls are really an easy way to help develop a personal connection with the environment and the bay as they work to build and maintain a healthy marine ecosystem.”

Malpezzi and the school’s environmental educator Jamie Testa helped spearhead the project.

“We see the Chesapeake Bay and the nearby Patuxent River as living laboratories for our children,” Head of School at Tidewater School Laura Amin said. “We hope this project will reinforce our goal of instilling lifelong environmental stewardship with our students.”

Throughout the school year, students have been engaged in learning about Chesapeake Bay, with projects including a rainwater runoff system and a newly built raingarden.