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December Digs: Growing, Learning, Celebrating at EcoWorks

Updated: Jan 29


Title over a semi blurred background of trees in winter snow and the sun rising between trees

In December, our hands were full at Howard EcoWorks, proving that landscaping doesn't take a winter break. Join us as we unwrap a month brimming with sustainable projects, valuable learning experiences, and festive celebrations. From planting trees to engaging industry workshops, delve into the distinctive adventures that shape our mission.




Graphic recapturing December accomplishments

In December the UpLift & Permanent crew accomplished: 

  • 22 Project Sites Visited

  • 164 Native Trees and shrubs Planted









Serenity Ridge Natural Burial & Arboretum | Windsor Mills

In collaboration with the Chesapeake Conservancy, Greater Baltimore Wilderness Coalition, and Grow Home, we proudly planted 112 native trees at Serenity Ridge Natural Burial & Arboretum. This project, supported by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, aims to enhance the stability of the stream bordering the property. 


Seeds of Change Nursery | Jessup

The nursery team planted 10 native trees at the Seeds of Change Nursery. This project was funded by Baltimore Gas and Electric. Seeds of Change is an environmental and workforce development program at the Howard County Department of Corrections, and Nursery with a focus on perennials, shrubs, and trees that are native to the mid-Atlantic region. 




St. Peter’s Episcopal Church | Ellicott City

UpLift crews planted 10 native trees, generously funded by Howard County Government in partnership with the Ellicott City Partnership. This collaborative effort not only enhances the church grounds but also contributes to our shared commitment to environmental conservation and community well-being.


Young tree in a tree cage supported with wooden stakes and tree ties

Residential Tree Planting | Ellicott City

We planted 32 trees across three private residential properties in Ellicott City as an initiative to create climate resilience in these communities. This effort was funded by the Tree HoCo program, emphasizing the importance of local partnerships in fostering a greener and more sustainable landscape.





Biochar Survey | Columbia

Lori Lilly, Director of Howard EcoWorks, and our Environmental Sustainability Intern, Jazlyn Benitez, collaborated with Kip Mumaw and Jordan Chambers from Ecosystem Services to collect pre-project monitoring data at a forest site at Howard Community College. We also collected data at  Jim Duke’s Farmacy for its potential as a site for stream restoration work.

The goal of the project is to assess the benefits of forest management approaches, which includes invasive species removal, using invasive plants for biochar production, and application of biochar to the forest floor. We’re looking forward to monitoring this project and seeing the results over time. This project is funded by a Howard County Innovation Grant to develop new restoration approaches with documented ecosystem service lift.




Tree Maintenance | Howard County

An important task to ensure the longevity and success of tree planting projects is to maintain trees across Howard County. With funding from The Chesapeake Bay Trust Urban Tree Grant Program, our dedicated crew engaged in crucial tasks, including removing invasive vines and debris that could pose a threat to young trees. We took proactive measures, such as fixing tree cages to protect against wildlife damage, and conducted thorough assessments for tree health and potential issues. 




Stream Restoration | Howard County

Part of our crew's essential tasks in conservation is stream restoration maintenance for the Howard County Department of Public Works. Our team will go in and target invasive plant species to allow native plants a chance to breathe and grow. We will also remove debris and trash found on site. This is part of an ongoing effort to create resilient forests and streams that breed habitat for pollinators and wildlife.


Safe & Sound Event | Ellicott City

Our crew responded to a recent Safe & Sound event, working diligently to remove 600 lbs of debris from one of the 56 flood-prone points around the County. These efforts are part of our continuous commitment to community and stormwater management, as we strive to make the region safer and more resilient in the face of environmental challenges. Through our partnership with Howard County Government,  the "Safe & Sound" initiative contributes to the well-being and safety of Ellicott City and its residents. 



Professional Development and Industry Exposure

At Howard EcoWorks, our UpLift program places a strong emphasis on continuous improvement through certifications and professional development in the green industry. Our team was immersed in a series of educational experiences throughout December, such as:


Ewurafua, JP, Tyler, Catharine, Matt, May, & Josh at a table with laptops and paperwork
Ewurafua, JP, Tyler, Catharine, Matt, May, & Josh

Professional Development Day | Networking & Professional Communications

Our Program Manager, Campbell Shepard, took the helm in guiding our UpLift Team through a comprehensive day of professional development, designed to equip them with essential skills for future career opportunities. The primary focus of this enlightening session was on fostering valuable connections and networking within the green industry. Through engaging discussions, insightful workshops, and hands-on activities, participants gained valuable insights into industry dynamics, expanded their professional networks, and honed the interpersonal skills crucial for success in their environmental careers.


Invasive Species Training and Workshop

Our crew learned how to identify invasive plant species for removal by our experienced staff members. This hands-on learning experience is pivotal for our crews as it equips them with the expertise needed to manage forests and the maintenance of conservation gardens. Armed with this knowledge, our team can efficiently identify and address invasive species, ensuring the health and vitality of local ecosystems. 


Industry Exposure: Design Industry with NDC and CCBC

Under the expert guidance of our Program Manager, Campbell Shepard, our UpLift team had the invaluable opportunity to participate in a workshop on landscape design with a strong emphasis on sustainable landscaping practices. This illuminating experience was made possible through a collaborative effort with the Greater Baltimore Wilderness Coalition, Neighborhood Design Center (NDC) and Community College Baltimore County (CCBC). Bradley Thompson, representing CCBC, provided insights into the Sustainable Horticulture degree track, while NDC delved into the broader realm of landscape design.


During the workshop, our crew gained a deeper understanding of the principles and intricacies involved in designing environmentally conscious landscapes. The session served as a bridge between theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience gained through the Uplift program. This unique industry exposure empowered our team to think critically about incorporating sustainable practices into their landscape design endeavors. Such initiatives not only enrich our crew members' skill sets but also foster a holistic approach to environmental stewardship within the green industry.




CBLP-A Lunch & Learn activities

Uplift dove into a comprehensive study of the material required for the Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional (CBLP) - A certificate. This program, designed to elevate expertise in sustainable landscaping practices, provided our crew with valuable insights into the intricate aspects of environmental conservation. Covering topics such as stormwater management, native plants, and sustainable landscaping techniques, the CBLP certificate and certification programs align seamlessly with our mission at Howard EcoWorks. The knowledge gained from this certificate not only enhances the skill set of our team members but also provides a significant advantage in the competitive landscape of the green industry.




Serenity Ridge Birding Event

Joe Corcoran of the Baltimore Bird Club, gave our crew an educational birding tour! They met on an early morning at Serenity Ridge Arboretum where they had just planted 112 trees. Many people found it a great learning experience and a chance to connect with nature.


Some of the birds sighted were: White Throated Sparrows, American crows, Fish Crows, Common Grackles, Blue Jays, American Robin, Red Bellied Woodpeckers, Cardinals, Eastern Bluebirds, Mockingbirds, Eastern Towhee, Starlings, American Goldfinches, Turkey Vulture, Yellow Rumped Warbler, Ruby Crowned kinglet, and Carolina Wren.


Milestones, Media, and Merits



Year End Giving Thank You Graphic featuring May digging a tree hole

Year End Giving

In a remarkable display of community support, we raised a total of $4,670 between November to the end of 2023—a testament to the generosity and commitment of our supporters. These funds will play a pivotal role in sustaining and advancing our ongoing conservation efforts, enabling us to continue making a positive impact on our local environment. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who contributed to this campaign, as your support truly fuels the success of our mission. 


Congrats Elura Graphic

Certification | Elura Morris

We celebrate Elura Morris, our Marketing, Communications, & Outreach Coordinator for completing the Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional - Level 1 Certification! We look forward to witnessing her ongoing growth and the application of her enhanced skills and knowledge to benefit others, just as she has consistently contributed to EcoWorks. 




Holiday Party

Wrapping up the season, the crew and staff came together for a festive holiday party, a joyful celebration of our remarkable achievements throughout the year. Adding a creative twist to the festivities, our staff member, Elura Morris, guided everyone through a nature-themed painting party tutorial. Laughter, learning, and creative expression made it an absolute blast for our entire team. Cheers to a fantastic year!


CONCLUSION: 

As the year winds down, our December was a dynamic blend of eco-action, learning, and joyous moments at Howard EcoWorks. From planting roots in the ground to expanding our knowledge, and wrapping it all up with a festive cheer, we're proud of the strides made and the community that makes it all happen. Here's to the spirit of growth and green endeavors as we step into a new year!


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