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City Students Experience The Chesapeake Bay

 Wilderness Leadership & Learning, Inc. (WILL) is a DC based 12-month experiential learning, youth leadership and life skill development program, which works with 9th -11th graders from underserved neighborhoods primarily from DC Wards 1, 6, 7, and 8.

Each year, during spring break, WILL spends three days and two nights with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) at the Karen Noonan Center (KNC), one of the CBF’s four Environmental Education Centers on the Bay. We are most appreciative to the Chesapeake Bay Trust for its support, which enables us to provide an amazing experience for at-risk teens.

During our stay at the KNC, WILL participants continue to build on their environmental/ecological education and understanding of the Bay and its watershed begun in the fall. We learn more about sediment and nutrients, climate change and erosion and their impact on the Bay, the benefits of filtration provided by trees and grasses, and why the marsh is so important on many levels. We explore and remove debris from barrier islands, dredge on an oyster bar, set crab pots, make s'mores and tell stories about the history of the area, including stories about Harriet Tubman who was born down the road from the KNC, do leadership initiatives and play fun games like predator and prey in the marsh, and generally expand our growing knowledge and appreciation of the Bay's importance to our region and of our role in the Bay's future. The trip to the KNC provides a wonderful opportunity for WILL members to be out of the city and to have many new experiences, including seeing magnificent sunsets and sunrises, ospreys, and bald eagles.

In May, WILL does a service project in the Bay watershed – wetland planting or building goose fence for wetland plants in the Anacostia River or invasive plant removal and planting native tree saplings. To learn more about WILL, please visit the website at www.will-lead.org. 

Steve Abraham works with Wilderness Leadership & Learning, Inc.