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Learning the Bay

Grasonville environmental center schools grown-ups

Vicki Paulas introduces the CBEC stewards to a red-tailed hawk.

So you want to learn more about life in Chesapeake Country, but you’re just a bit intimidated by lengthy Master Naturalist classes with lots of study time and volunteer hours?
    The Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center in Grasonville has the answer you didn’t know you were looking for.
    “LIFE, or the Legacy Institute for the Environment, is a free program, with no tests, no homework and only nine sessions,” says Courtney Leigh, volunteer stewardship coordinator. “We cater to individuals who don’t want to commit such a huge amount of their time and energy to environmental education but still want to get to know the Bay ecosystem as well as a naturalist does.”
    LIFE began life nearly 14 years ago as a program for older adults. “A way to utilize retired folks who still had a lot of vitality, skills and knowledge to give back to the community,” Leigh says. Partners in the program were Adkins Arboretum and Pickering Creek Audubon Center.
    The age barrier has since fallen. Anybody 18 and older, on both Western and Eastern sides of the Bay, is welcome to join LIFE. Students have come from Annapolis, Calvert, Kent and Montgomery counties.
    All, Leigh says, are “passionate individuals.”
    Join them in a “mission to create a legacy of protecting the environment for future generations,” she invites. “Through nine weeks of educational sessions and field trips with scientists, educators and consultants, the Class of ’17 will gain knowledge on restoration and stewardship of Chesapeake Bay.”
    Topics include the natural history of the Bay, tree identification, best management land practices, legislation that affects the Bay, conservation landscaping, green energy and climate change. The free classes meet at Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center and include a morning lecture followed by a site visit or field trip.
    So far, LIFE has fostered over 120 Legacy Stewards whose work has left a lasting impact on the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
    Classes meet on Wednesdays, March 1 to April 26, 9am-3pm.
    Apply at www.bayrestoration.org (adult education) by Feb. 22.