Watershed Voice
Fall 2011
Beyond Books

What CBF Taught Me

By Phillip McKnight, CBF Staff

Three oyster shells with oyster spat
Photo credit: Tom Pelton/CBF Staff

This July on a Chesapeake Classrooms professional development course to the Department of Natural Resource's Piney Point Oyster Aquaculture Center, our group of teachers worked with a Piney Point employee named Kevin Boyle. Only later in our time together did Kevin reveal that he had been a student on a CBF student leadership course a few years back. With Maryland now being the first state to require environmentally literate graduates, I decided to ask Kevin what made him choose a career in the environmental sciences. Here is a piece of his story:

Born in 1985, Kevin remembered some of the meaningful experiences that brought him to his current career as a Piney Point employee. He always had an interest in the outdoors, which was reinforced when he went to camps in his hometown for the first time. Slowly he developed a respect and sense of place for his local area and the Chesapeake Bay. In 1998 as an 8th grader, Kevin participated in a CBF student leadership course where he paddled the Patuxent River and ended up at CBF's Karen Noonan Education Center in the heart of the Bay. Kevin described this experience as one that "locked him in" to a love and passion for the outdoors.

Now Kevin is doing work that he feels is making a positive impact on the Chesapeake waters. "Putting oysters in the rivers is one of the best things you can do," Kevin remarked. He also feels that education is important and is hopeful that Piney Point will resume with their recently cancelled outreach program that educated children about the importance of oysters. In the future Kevin considers even running his own oyster farm.

With environmental jobs becoming more important and sought after, I was curious about what Kevin would tell his peers and others interested in working in the environmental field. Kevin admitted that "jobs aren't always easy to come by," but volunteering is a great way to start and improve your resume. Kevin recommended getting involved with local watershed groups or with state groups such as DNR. At the core Kevin says, "there must be the interest."

Kevin had meaningful watershed experiences and became an environmentally literate citizen through his own passion, but as of this summer, Maryland became the first state to require "green graduates." The Maryland State Board of Education voted for Comprehensive Environmental Literacy for each public school student. "It's about time," Kevin says of this decision. "The only way to get some sort of impact is to have kids who are aware in high school. Lots of folks in the state are not aware. If physical education is going to be a requirement, then why not environmental education?"

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