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Students in the Wilmington Green Jobs program learn about a wide variety of career opportunities from green energy to oyster farming. This story was originally published in Delaware Sea Grant's (DESG) 2020 Reporter.
The Delaware Sea Grant (DESG) College Program hosted students from the Wilmington Green Jobs program in Lewes and Wilmington to teach them about green energy and community gardening.
The Green Jobs Program is coordinated by Martha Narvaez, a policy scientist in the University of Delawares Water Resources Center [within the Institute for Public Administration], and led by the City of Wilmingtons Department of Parks and Recreation. In 2019, fourteen high school students from Wilmington worked with UD faculty and staff, participating in hands-on outdoor environmental work, learning about environmental issues and exploring career opportunities for six weeks over the summer.
The students worked 25 hours a week, earning minimum wage while accomplishing projects or learning about the work being performed by the nonprofits that hosted the students.
At UDs Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes, the students learned about green energy and toured UDs 2-megawatt wind turbine, as well as Delawares burgeoning oyster aquaculture industry.
The experience was led by David Christopher, DESGs marine education specialist, and Christopher Petrone, director of DESGs Marine Advisory Service (MAS).
Darion Gray, the lead counselor for the Wilmington Green Jobs program and the executive director of the Wilmington Youth Leadership Commission, said it was great to have the students travel outside of Wilmington and interact with DESG.
We wont get to see a wind turbine in Wilmington and so my hats off to Sea Grant for letting the students experience the importance of clean energy, said Gray.
The students helped DESG build equipment for the start of a new aquaculture demonstration project the program plans to implement. Students learned about the gear necessary to launch an oyster farm and saw the challenges facing oyster farmers in Delaware. The gear was provided by Mark Casey of Delaware Cultured Seafood.
DESG aquaculture specialist Dennis McIntosh, a faculty member at Delaware State University (DSU), helped students assemble oyster bags while explaining their value.
Christopher and Ed Hale, DESGs fisheries, seafood and aquaculture specialist, led the students in building a floating upweller system (or FLUPSY), which is used to grow out oyster seed while protecting the spat from predation.
Students also worked with Jam?? McCray, a human-environment interaction specialist with DESG, earlier in the summer at the Southbridge Community Garden where they helped weed and learned about the impact of community gardens. They discussed how climate change impacts urban areas, which resonated as Wilmington had recently experienced a flash flood.
The experience showed students the importance of giving back to their community living off the land while being educated about healthy eating, being exposed to new foods and learning about pollinators.
McCray talked about the importance of urban gardens and explained the path that led to her DESG career.
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 take it, and doing environmental work doesnt have to be a hobby. It is a viable career if you want it.
This story was originally published in Delaware Sea Grant's (DESG) 2020 Reporter. This annual report highlights the progress DESG is making in their focus areas over the course of 2020.
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