August 5, 2021
My Year with Arundel Rivers
For those of you who have been following along or those I am reaching for the first time, hello! My name is Chloe Obara and for the past 12 months I have been working at Arundel Rivers through the Chesapeake Conservation Corps program. My year of service is almost up, so I am taking a moment to look back at this past year and reflect on what it has meant to me.
I can picture my second day of work clearly, going water quality monitoring on the South River for the first time. I had no clue what creek we were on or what direction the wind was blowing- no sense of direction or place. Not only was I new to the workforce and to the organization, I was new to Maryland. Starting from square one, I relied heavily on my GPS to drive to our restoration sites, and kept a list of addresses in my phone so I didn’t have to keep asking staff how to get places.
Fast forward a year, and I have a map of the South, West, and Rhode rivers painted in my mind as I navigate to the mouth of the Bay and I know the drive to our restoration sites like the back of my hand. I feel connected.
If you are reading this blog you probably follow Arundel Rivers on Facebook (if not- what are you waiting for!?) and you may have seen some of my Saturday posts that share a highlight of my week. Woven between pictures of the surprise tornado, mystery coffin, and dolphin sightings is a photo journal of my past year. Looking back on those pictures I am reminded of the diversity of projects I was lucky enough work on.
In summer 2020 I hit the ground running: learning how to calibrate our water quality monitoring equipment, navigate the team Google Drive, and transplant oysters onto a sanctuary reef. In the fall, I took charge of our Marylanders Grow Oysters program, searched for underwater grasses, and organized shoreline grass plantings. The winter was spent crunching numbers to create our river health scorecard- truly a labor of love. I also helped monitor oyster reef ball habitat and made weekly visits to our active restoration sites at Annapolis Landing and Herrington Harbour Marina.
In the spring, I led numerous tree plantings at the County Fairgrounds and conducted research for my capstone project on oyster reefs in the South River. Learn about my capstone project here. I learned how to monitor streams for fish and how to operate an otter trawl. This summer, I got to share my knowledge with our newest team members. I taught our summer intern, Isaac, how to calibrate our equipment and our Assistant River Programs Manager, Jonathan, how to format water quality data. I get to witness in them that same excitement I felt learning everything for the first time.
From outreach to research to restoration, my experiences from this year are best encapsulated by one overarching theme: when it comes to eliciting change in the environmental world, community connectedness is vital. Our most loyal of volunteers don’t stick around just to hang out with our awesome staff (as much as we’d like to think so), they donate their time because they care deeply about the watershed we work to protect.
The fact that after only one short year I can feel so connected to the people I’ve met and places I’ve been goes to show that it doesn’t matter where you grew up, your community matters to you and your actions matter to your community.
I will be heading back to my alma mater, William & Mary, this week to begin working as a technician for their Geology department, and though I am excited for this next step in my career, I will cherish the memories I have made and lessons I have learned this year. Thank you to every volunteer and supporter I have worked with for sharing with me your knowledge and teaching me how to be a better steward of the environment. And thank you to the amazing Arundel Rivers staff for making my year in the Chesapeake Conservation Corps one for the books!
Chesapeake Conservation Corps, 2020-21