A group of students, alumni, and staff from the Georgetown AAP campus kicked off the spring semester by volunteering in the 27th annual Beach Grass Planting in Dewey Beach on Saturday, March 19.
The event, which is coordinated by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources (DNREC), enlists volunteers to plant Cape American beach grass on the dunes of the state's ocean and Delaware Bay beaches. The planting was of particular importance this year, as a series of stronger-than-usual nor'easters and winter storms damaged and, in some areas, destroyed the dunes and the grass that keeps them stable.
According to Jennifer Luoma of DNREC's Division of Watershed Stewardship, approximately 1,000 volunteers braved unseasonably cold and windy weather to take part this year at locations along the Delaware shoreline. In addition to the Dewey Beach area, volunteers were stationed in Rehoboth, Bethany Beach, Delaware Seashore State Park, Cape Henlopen, Slaughter Beach, and Bowers Beach.
Despite strong winds, temperatures just above freezing, and even a few snow flurries, the effort was an unqualified success. "When the weather isn't exactly ideal, it is hard to determine how much will get done," Luoma said. "We got a lot done despite the cold winds. We have very dedicated volunteers!"
Georgetown faculty and staff have committed to participating in the event on an annual basis, so students and alumni of the southern Delaware AAP campuses, as well as their family and friends, are welcome to join next spring. "It's easy and fun work and gets you outside," Luoma said, adding that DNREC offers interested students a multitude of volunteer opportunities in many different fields: wildlife research, such as monitoring shorebird populations; outdoor safety instruction; beach, bay, and wetland conservation; and office administration, among many others.
There are also internship opportunities available in a broad variety of disciplines for students who are willing to make a more long-term commitment. Georgetown and Dover AAP students may earn a limited amount of academic credit by coordinating with Dr. Nancy Hall to create an independent study project. Interested students can learn more about DNREC volunteering and internship opportunities and follow @YourDNREC on Twitter for updates.