CREATING A SHORELINE ASSESSMENT ACTIVITY FOR ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATORS
In mid-December we had the privilege of attending the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Education Department’s winter meetings at Holly Beach Farm where we led a workshop on shoreline protection methods titled, “Shoreline Investigation: Ecological Function and Services”. We created a hands-on, experiential activity to encourage educators to reframe how to look at shorelines and consider the benefits and drawbacks of different shoreline protection techniques. We began the activity by taking a moment to get the group of educators into the mindset of a waterfront homeowner whose property is threatened by erosion. We brainstormed a list of goals that these “homeowners” would want their new shoreline protection to achieve (such as habitat, access, resiliency, and erosion control). Then we split into four groups and each team was given makeshift plan sets and assigned to build one of four shoreline protection methods- a wooden bulkhead, a stone revetment, a conventional living shoreline, and a dynamic living shoreline. After construction was complete, educators toured each of the four shoreline projects and assessed them to see how well they would achieve the goals on our list. Without fail each rotating group that did this activity came to the conclusion through their observations that dynamic living shorelines provide the highest ecological function and services for humans and wildlife alike. One educator summed it up by observing that dynamic living shorelines created "All positives!" We enjoyed getting to be educators for the day with such a passionate, open-minded, and intelligent group of environmentalists. It’s amazing what can happen when we notice our surroundings, such as the shorelines we may drive by or boat by every day, and start questioning the status quo and reimagining what is possible.