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Students Take Part In Marylanders Grow Oysters Program

Annapolis, Md. (September 19, 2011) — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) delivered 20 cages of oyster spat to children from the Chesapeake Montessori School Friday at Hollywood Farms in Annapolis. Ten students from the school placed the cages into Whitehall Creek and will monitor the oysters, learning about their growth, other aquatic life and water quality, while taking part in Governor Martin O’Malley’s citizen oyster growing program, Marylanders Grow Oysters.

“This is a perfect project for Chesapeake Montessori School,” said head of School Deborah Bricker. “As a Maryland Green School, this project enhances that mission and most importantly, the project will help our students appreciate the interconnections of the work they are doing. A project with science, history, culture, real work and service to the community truly highlights our goal in Montessori education of showing children their relationship with their world. We will not harm that which we love – what better way to love our place than to work to protect it. And we’ll have great fun with this project too.”

Kids Learning about oyster planting

Through the Marylanders Grow Oysters Program, citizen volunteers tend to young oysters growing in wire mesh cages suspended from private piers for their first year of life. The oyster spat and cages are provided by DNR and other program partners at no charge to the volunteers. The oysters require minimal care – mostly rinsing the cages every two weeks.

“The Bay’s long-term recovery rests in the hands of our children,” said Stephan Abel, Executive Director of the Oyster Recovery Partnership. “While some children come in contact with the Bay on a regular basis, many don’t. This program provides a simple, easy to understand teaching tool to connect the public with the Chesapeake Bay and the life it sustains.”

Click here for a photo gallery from the school’s oyster planting.

Citizen oyster growers enjoy the personal rewards of stewardship and learn about oysters while contributing to the enhancement of an oyster reef in their local tributary. The year-old oysters are collected and planted in a local oyster sanctuary, and a new group of young oysters is distributed to participating growers to start the process again.

"The program has grown tremendously since 2008, from 1 tributary to 24, thanks to the local coordinators and all the volunteer growers,” said DNR Shellfish Manager Chris Judy.

DNR’s oyster survey last year showed promising results. The number of spat or baby oysters in Maryland waters was at its highest level since 1997 and the survival rate for young oysters was also up. The 2011 oyster survey, which will begin in October, will show how Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee have impacted Maryland’s oyster population.

More Marylanders are looking to start up or expand aquaculture businesses. Recently, the Army Corps of Engineers modified its permitting and review process to streamline the application process for oyster farmers as part of Governor O’Malley’s Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Development plan.

Governor O’Malley launched the Marylanders Grow Oysters program in 2008 with nearly 900 oyster cages along the Tred Avon River. DNR expanded the program with various oyster partners and now more than 8,000 cages, tended by approximately 2,000 growers, are located in 24 tributaries. The oyster cages are built by Maryland inmates at Maryland Correctional Enterprises in Hagerstown and the Eastern Pre-Release Unit in Church Hill. Additional inmates assist with oyster spat production at the DNR hatchery in St. Mary’s County.

The Marylanders Grow Oysters Program is managed by DNR in conjunction with the Oyster Recovery Partnership, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science which produces the majority of the spat, and the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

For more information about Marylanders Grow Oysters visit

Introduced by Governor Martin O’Malley in October 2008, Maryland’s Smart, Green & Growing initiative was created to strengthen the state’s leadership role in fostering smarter, more sustainable growth and inspiring action among all Marylanders to achieve a more sustainable future. The initiative brings together state agencies, local governments, businesses and citizens to create more livable communities, improve transportation options, reduce the state’s carbon footprint, support resource based industry, invest in green technologies, preserve valuable resource lands and restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

   September 19, 2011

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office | 410-507-7526 cell

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages nearly one-half million acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at