The federation depends on volunteers to accomplish various education and restoration task and this month has been a revolving door of visiting student groups that traveled from afar to dedicate their spring breaks to service work.
A group from The University of Akron traveled to Manteo with 22 students and two faculty members and volunteered most of the week around Roanoke Island with the northeast regional staff. Many students from this group had never been to the Outer Banks before and thoroughly enjoyed soaking up some sun along the way. The students helped with rain garden maintenance at two Manteo Schools, including doing some major renovations on a large bioretention area at the Middle School, greatly improving the function and the appearance of this federation project.
The students also prepared materials for the upcoming Earth Fair OBX IV at Jennette’s Pier. Thanks to support from the Outer Banks Community Foundation, there will be bird house kits and rain barrels on hand for participants to win during the event on April 18. The students measured and cut old pallets to put together bird house building materials. They also helped install spigots on barrels previously used as shipping containers, repurposing them to hold and store rain water. Rounding out the week, the students also spent time bagging oyster shells and removing invasive species from the Jockey’s Ridge State Park living shoreline.
One of the faculty leading the group from Akron, Jennifer Venuto, shared: “We had a wonderful trip and we’re so grateful to Sara and Erin for all they planned for us. The students had so many great things to say; we truly enjoyed ourselves and we loved working with you! We found everything so interesting and we loved learning so many new things.”
The following week, students from Eastern Kentucky University, working with the Nature Conservancy. spent a couple days at the Manteo office helping with a very messy task of prepping up-cycled crab pots for oyster restoration, by coating them in concrete. The buoys and lines were removed and all the entrances to the crab pots have been pulled closed. The pots were considered abandoned and collected by fisherman this past winter. In order for oyster larvae to grow, it must attach to a hard surface, such as a rock, another oyster shell, or even a crab pot. Coating the crab pots in concrete increases the surface area and provides substrate for oyster larvae to settle on and grow. There are 3 sites that have been permitted for deploying these prepared crab pots around Roanoke Island this spring. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to volunteer and get involved with this project. All of this is possible thanks to funding from the NOAA Marine Debris program, N.C. Sea Grant, and project partners with the Nature Conservancy.
This month most colleges celebrate a week of Spring break. Students are rewarded with a reprieve of going to classes and are given the freedom to spend their time however they choose. Some probably head back to their parents’ house for a week of sleeping in and home cooked meals, while others head to a warm, sunny beach and overindulge.
Fortunately for the federation, there are some college students that wish to give back, and dedicate their spring break to volunteering and community service projects by participating in alternative spring break trips. The Manteo Office recently hosted a group of 12 students from Ithaca College, in New York, who were more than happy to leave the frozen tundra of New York and head south for the week of giving back.
The students logged needed volunteer hours helping with various federation projects over the course of the week. They helped around the office, spruced up the rain gardens, and constructed storage shelves among other projects. They also spent time at Manteo Middle School both in the classroom and in the schoolyard rain garden and attended the Oyster Summit in Raleigh. While they worked hard and learned a lot, they also found time to enjoy the natural beauty of the coast with visits to the living shoreline at Jockey’s Ridge and other sites along the Outer Banks.
The group’s trip coordinator shared this at the conclusion of the week: “We seriously got lucky, because Sara is such an amazing educator and very obviously spends a lot of time working with volunteers of all ages. This Alternative Spring Break trip far exceeded everyone’s expectations – we simply had an amazing experience.”