Maryland Celebrates A Decade Of Raising Horseshoe Crabs In Classrooms

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Governor O’Malley Recognizes Anniversary of Hands-on Environmental Program

Annapolis, MD — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is celebrating the tenth successful year of students raising horseshoe crabs in school classrooms across the state with beach-side field days for eight Maryland schools this month.

“The health of our natural resources depends upon the stewardship of our future generations,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “Projects like these are especially valuable in helping young people develop a stewardship ethic, offering them an opportunity to form a personal connection with our natural world by translating classroom learning into fun, hands-on restoration efforts.”

Under this exciting program, teachers are provided with raising equipment, an activity guide and horseshoe crab eggs to support education of the ecological, medical and historical importance of the species. Field days mark the culmination of months of study for students, as they release the horseshoe crabs they’ve raised into the wild and celebrate what they’ve learned. The events also include visiting stations to learn more about horseshoe crab history, bio-medical uses of horseshoe crab blood, the ecological relationship between crabs and migratory shorebirds and surveying horseshoe crab populations.

Two Field Days were held this week, May 19 at Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center in Grasonville for St. Mark School, West Friendship Elementary, Aleph Bet Jewish Day School and City Neighbors Charter School, and May 21 at Sandy Point State Park for Annapolis Elementary, Robert Clemente Middle and LEAP Co-op of Montgomery County. A final field day event is slated to take place May 28 at Assateague State Park for Stephen Decatur Middle.

Since 1998, more than two thousand students have participated in Horseshoe Crab Field Days, a DNR-partnership that includes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center. Maryland public and private elementary, middle and high schools are eligible to participate in this unique program.

To ensure all Maryland children have an opportunity to experience and connect with their natural world, Governor O’Malley recently signed an Executive Order establishing the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature. This coalition of state, local, private and non-profit partners is charged with promoting the well-being of youth by accelerating environmental learning, connecting communities to parks and public lands and expanding opportunities for structured and unstructured outdoor time in nature for both play and learning.

For more information about raising horseshoe crabs in the classroom, visit www.dnr.maryland.gov/education/horseshoecrab/release.html.