The plan is for DESG to acquire oyster seed and deploy the FLUPSY and other grow-out gear in the UD marine operations harbor to grow oysters to market size. This will allow DESG to have oysters and gear available so that either potential growers or participants in education programs can see how an aquaculture system works and see an oyster’s growth cycle.
“Hopefully, we’ll have the Green Jobs program come back next summer and do some more work with those oysters,” said Petrone.
Students in the program also worked with DESG earlier this summer when Jame McCray, a human-environment interaction specialist with DESG, took them to the Southbridge Community Garden.
The students were able to help weed the garden and learn about what impact community gardens can have on their communities.
They also discussed the urban heat island effect — where an urban area can be substantially warmer than its surrounding rural areas due to the lack of trees combined with dark, impervious surfaces such as roads, buildings, and parking lots — how urban areas are being impacted by climate change, and the flooding that goes on in urban areas, which resonated with the group as Wilmington had recently experienced a flash flood.
Darion Gray, the lead counselor for the Wilmington Green Jobs program and the executive director of the Wilmington Youth Leadership Commission, said that by interacting with some of the volunteers at the garden, the students were able to see the importance of giving back to their community and the importance of living off the land.
In addition, the students learned about healthy eating, were exposed to foods that they may not have seen before, and learned about pollinators.
McCray said that it was a great opportunity to talk with the students about the importance of urban gardens as well as show them the path she took to her career with DESG.
“Our talk gave the students a window into different career pathways, especially as a black woman with a Ph.D. in the sciences,” McCray said. “If you know that something is an option, you might actually take it and doing environmental work doesn’t necessarily have to be a hobby. It is a viable career if you want it. I hope it gave them the idea that there’s not just one way to go about your life. There’s not one path that you have to follow.”
Gray said that this summer, the students travelled from Wilmington to Milford to Rehoboth, among other locations, to gain an understanding of topics ranging from clean water to horticulture to recycling. In the process, they were exposed to experiences not available to them in their hometown.
“I’m big on making sure that the youth can branch out from their everyday experiences that they’ll experience in Wilmington,” said Gray. “We won’t get to see a wind turbine in Wilmington. Now, Wilmington is a great place to be, develop yourself and give back and raise your children but we don’t have any wind turbines and so my hat’s off to Sea Grant for letting the students experience the importance of clean energy. It was a super exciting day and a great experience.”