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Tucked Away in the Mountains of Maryland

The Evergreen Heritage Center (EHC) in Mount Savage, MD has been a wonderful place to work for these past 18 months. Officially, my title is the Environmental Education Program Manager, but in reality I do everything from creating and running the meaningful environmental education field experiences to assisting with the newsletter and other outreach efforts to providing input to our new site plan. The EHC Foundation (EHCF) technically has no employees, but relies on contractors and volunteers to accomplish its mission and goals. I feel fortunate to work with such a dedicated group of people. Janice Keene, the EHCF president, and her family work tirelessly as volunteers in so many aspects of the facilities and programming. In addition to administrative support, they have made great improvements in the Learning Center where I teach, and sometimes even bring me cookies. Matt Diehl, our groundskeeper, moves far beyond his title in helping me create planting areas and all manner of hands-on teaching tools for my classes. The staff teachers, Jemima and Kelly, have been knowledgeable, engaging, and flexible, which are critical traits in our fast-paced environment.

Here in Allegany County, we are in the “Appalachian Ridge” and are blessed with mountains reaching to an elevation of almost 3000 feet, and an amazing landscape and abundant natural resources. But unfortunately, many of our youth suffer the same poverty and lack of positive outdoor experiences as Maryland’s inner city youth. In addition, careers in science or environmental education are few and far between. I feel strongly that the EHCF has done a wonderful job of creating partnerships to meet the area’s needs and use some of it’s hidden talent to create a place that is growing leaps and bounds as a showcase for environmental education and best environmental practices.

I wish there was one thing I could pinpoint as a reason that I love working with the EHCF, but what is probably more interesting is that it’s impossible for me to do so. I hope that those of you reading this will check out our website (student created!) and visit us on Facebook, but also make the trek out to Allegany County to visit with us.

Elaine Raesly is the environmental education coordinator with the Evergreen Heritage Center in Allegany County, MD.