BERLIN — The Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) has named Assateague State Park as one of seven certified Maryland Green Centers.
The award winners were announced on June 3 at the Maryland Green Schools Award Ceremony and Youth Summit at Sandy Point State Park.
To be recognized as a Maryland Green Center, the State Park had to demonstrate best environmental management practices, support community environmental learning and facilitate the development of Maryland Green Schools within their service area.
“Maryland Green Centers contain mentors, trainers, teachers and cheerleaders for schools working to become Maryland Green Schools,” said Bronwyn Mitchell, executive director of MAEOE. “To put it simply, these centers are the incubators of Maryland Green Schools.”
HYPERLINK "http://www.dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/eastern/assateague.asp" Assateague State Park is the first of Maryland’s State Parks to earn Green Center status and stands out in the region as a respected source for quality environmental education and interpretive programs.
Located along the Atlantic Ocean and Sinepuxent Bay, the park serves more than 45,000 visitors each year with hands-on learning, outdoor exploration and use of natural play and classroom spaces. The Park and the Maryland Coastal Bays Program are the first Maryland Green Centers in Worcester County.
Park staff has worked with local organizations such as the Maryland Coastal Bays Program and National Park Service to offer professional development workshops for teachers and to hold community special events such as Maryland Coast Day.
The park and its partners also holdt the Coastal Stewards and Maryland Conservation Jobs Corps youth programs that train young adults, teaching them green job skills and encourage environmental stewardship.
“Assateague State Park and the Maryland Park Service, want to be more than just a role model for sustainability,” said Maryland Park Service Superintendent Nita Settina “We want to be a showcase for strategies and technologies that our visitors and students can take home with them to enhance their own green lifestyle.”
Some of the park’s best management practices include energy saving on-demand hot water heaters, an in-park recycling facility, rain barrels, re-foresting over two acres of park property, an electric-powered ATV and foot and bicycle patrols of the campground.
These practices help lower greenhouse gas emissions, reduce pollution to local waterways, reduce solid waste and increase wildlife habitat, park officials said.
“Maryland Green Centers reach beyond their education missions to directly support the environmental education of students and teachers, while providing local examples of environmental stewardship with their facilities,” said Joanne Schmader, Maryland Green School coordinator.