When thinking of volunteering and the great outdoors I would like to draw your attention to one phrase, “Canoe and Scoop.” You read that correctly. I’m talking about direct service incorporated with canoes and kayaks. For environmental direct service projects, people are used to tree planting and garden cultivation. However, a few weeks ago the Volunteer Maryland Support Team along with members of the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives (GOCI), and the Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism (GOSV) joined Baltimore City Recreation and Parks for an afternoon of clean-up at Middle Branch Park in south Baltimore and took an unconventional approach to environmental stewardship.
In order to pursue our afternoon of environmental service, we boarded kayaks and canoes and launched ourselves away from the bank and into the Patapsco River to remove garbage from the river with the help of trash picker tools. The afternoon was an incredibly rewarding experience for everyone because it gave us all the chance to engage in environmental stewardship in a new way. Volunteer Maryland Outreach Manager, Kerry Ose says that our service was, “A great way to learn and enjoy a recreational activity while also benefiting the environment.” And she’s absolutely right because it’s not often that environmental stewardship can be accomplished while enjoying the experience of being out in a small watercraft enjoying a beautiful, sunny Maryland day.
Another enjoyable aspect of the afternoon was how close to home it felt for many of us who live here in Baltimore City. While talking to the GOCI Chief of Staff Elizabeth Hines, she shared with me that she’s always seen impacting the environment as venturing away from home and out into the Maryland wetlands into places like Accokeek. However, after participating in the Canoe and Scoop, she has a new outlook on how she can engage in environmental stewardship and feels that, “It means a lot to do wetland conservation and restoration right here in the city I call home.” Direct Service is a rewarding experience in itself, but there will always be an added bonus when that service can be done where someone calls home and it’s safe to say that everyone out on the water that day felt a sense of connection to the environment, to their home, and to the state of Maryland.