Keeping Up With Education at DNR: January 2021

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Photo of New Germany State Park lake by Valerie Hall

January 2021 | Photo by Valerie Hall

Welcome to Keeping up with Education, the email newsletter all about
environmental education at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources!

Thank you for signing up for our new newsletter! This quarterly digest will keep you informed about what the Conservation Education team at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources is offering. We provide news from our collaborative education team: information on upcoming workshops and professional development opportunities, learning resources for educators, and some fun environmental facts.

This will be a single source to stay current with education in Parks, Wildlife, Geology, Aquatic Resources, Fishing, and more. We look forward to engaging with you in this format.

A child walks down a path on a snowy day

Awareness is increasing around the need to strengthen the pipeline of conservation careers. Many students lack the knowledge that these careers are even available to them because this is such a new and developing field.

Through programs such as career development workshops, virtual job fairs, and mentorship, this important industry is able to reach more youth and young professionals and provide more equitable opportunities in this growing sector.

Several organizations throughout Maryland are supporting these programs and partnering with groups like the Coastal Society or the Baltimore Office of Sustainability to advance green-sector career awareness and training. Project Green Classrooms will soon roll out a Conservation Careers Guide for youth and professionals who want further guidance on how to get involved through educational, professional, and volunteer opportunities.

If you are interested in learning more about conservation careers and opportunities, please visit the Youth and Young Professionals portal on the Chesapeake Network or contact Trystan Sill, Project Green Classroom’s Conservation Careers Chair, at

At-Home Learning

The department offers a variety of learning activities that can be done from home. Below you will find a list of websites and programs that our units have put together for educators. 

A small jumping spider sitting on a leaf is looking at the camera

Fun with Spiders

New! The Wildlife and Heritage Service has a new downloadable Spider Activity Pack and Learn at Home activities on Spiders.

A picture of a colorful trout

2020-21 Virtual Trout in the Classroom

Every year, hundreds of Maryland students participate in the Trout in the Classroom program. The mission of this program is to develop among these students future advocacy for establishing and maintaining healthy conditions for trout in local streams, as well as instilling a love of Maryland’s streams.

Through the exciting experience of rearing trout from fertilized eggs and releasing them in local waters, Trout in the Classroom helps young people to become stewards of their watershed and the environment. Maryland DNR provides grants to many of these schools for the tank and equipment needed.

Because of this COVID-19 restrictions on students and teachers being physically present in classrooms, a partnership was formed in August between the Maryland chapter of Trout in the Classroom, in association with the Mid- Atlantic Council Trout Unlimited and National Trout Unlimited, and Irvine Nature Center in Owings Mills to develop a virtual program for schools—those still participating with a tank of eggs this year and non-participating schools as well. Schools that are participating will receive their eggs in December or January.  All schools can take advantage of a live webcam on a 145-gallon tank holding three large rainbow trout at Irvine. A 55-gallon tank will also be set up to hold the rainbow trout eggs for the nature center's program this year.  

Jenna Krebs, the Manager of Animal Care at Irvine, will serve as moderator for 15 -30 minute educational videos on topics related to trout and the environment. Students and teachers will be able to ask questions or suggest a subject to be covered in a future video. At the end of each biweekly video Jenna will answer questions submitted via email. Additional video resources will be provided to schools that plan to set up standard 55-gallon trout tanks. Lesson plans from TU National and Maryland DNR will be available on the website. Check out the Virtual Trout in the Classroom website for more information.

A closeup of a snowy owl

Credit: Kerry Wixted

Lola Lugard of Carroll County won first place honors for the 2020 Arbor Day Poster Contest.

Arbor Day Poster Contest

Entries due by noon on Jan. 15, 2021

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Forest Conservancy District Boards invite all Maryland fifth-graders in
private and public schools to participate in the annual Arbor Day Poster Contest.

The theme for 2021 is: “Trees Are Terrific…and Forest Products are Too!” Learn more about forest products through our activity guide.

All entries must be delivered to a local Maryland Forest Service office by noon, January 15, 2021.

Professional Development Opportunities

A fluffy Delmarva fox squirrel sits on a large tree branch close to the trunk of the tree

Upcoming Wild Acres Webinars

Check out the upcoming Wild Acres public webinars on local wildlife and how to help them in your backyard. Winter webinars include winter bird feeding, fire and management of Soldiers Delight, owls of Maryland, and more! To view a list of events, please check our website.

Photo of Delmarva fox squirrel by Sue Cardaro

Online Professional Development

Educators! Check out the list of upcoming online professional development programs this winter including Growing Up WILD for early childhood education and Flying WILD bird education. To view a list of workshops, please visit our Educational Events page.

Save the date - Virtual MAEOE Conference February 3-7, 2021

Get Ready for the Virtual Maryland Association for Environmental & Outdoor Education (MAEOE) Annual Conference, February 3 - 7, 2021. Join educators from the Mid-Atlantic Region and beyond for education sessions, speakers, and workshops, as well as social and networking opportunities. The keynote speaker is Dr. John Francis, the Planetwalker. For more information visit the MAEOE webpage.

A small black and white woodpecker with a red crown perches on a suet cage.

Educator Tip of the Season

This time of year, we see less of our furbearing animals in Maryland, but don’t be fooled--they are out there. When you do see them, while you may be tempted to feed them--do not! They will survive on their own, whether furry or feathery. Bird feeders at this time of year are the exception to the no-feed rule, but make sure that they are cleaned every two weeks with warm, soapy water; have a wide lid on the feeder to protect the seeds from the wind, rain, or snow; and provide them with the right seed. Audubon has some good suggestions. To help you identify your visitors, see our Common Feeder Birds Chart. And to learn about backyard habitat practices, see Wild Acres.

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