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Growth, Learning, and Conservation: Howard EcoWorks' January Journey

Updated: Feb 14


Title of blog with a blue still river surrounded by a snowy landscape with oak trees

Welcome to the New Year! We’re excited to continue our conservation efforts into 2024. Join us on a journey through January with Howard EcoWorks, a month of environmental restoration projects and growth for our crews. Let’s explore transformative educational events and celebrate milestones. This recap encapsulates a dynamic month of growth, learning, and environmental impact.


Jan 2024 metrics. 22 project sites and 13 stream restoration sites


In January the UpLift & Senior crew accomplished: 

  • 22 Project Sites Visited

  • 13 Stream Restoration Sites Maintained 






Stream Restoration Maintenance | Howard County

Part of our organizations essential tasks is the maintenance of stream restoration sites throughout Howard County. 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.


Throughout January we visited 13 stream restorations sites. One of the biggest problems our crew faced were trees overgrown with invasive vines or outgrowing their cages. It is important for trees to be visited after planting events to be maintained and cared for to ensure their longevity. 


View from the tunnel looking onto a river with a fallen tree

Safe & Sound Event | Ellicott City

Our crew responded to a Safe & Sound event, working diligently to remove 800 lbs of debris from flood-prone points within Howard 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 workforce development program, UpLift, creates opportunities for growth in the green industry with certifications and training. Our team was immersed in a series of educational experiences throughout January, such as:


Professional Development Day | Resumes & Interviews

Led by Program Manager, Campbell Shepard, UpLift had two days of professional development in January. Through discussions and workshops, participants gained valuable skills for career development such as resume building, cover letter writing, mock interviews, and job searching. 


BMP Assessment Training

Guided by our Operations Director, Genevieve Simard, our team gained valuable insights into BMP assessments. BMPs are landscaping practices for managing stormwater runoff such as rain gardens. The crew learned how to look at mature rain gardens and observe and rate structural failures or successes. 


Live Stake Demo 

Our crews joined an exciting event where they learned how to live stake with native tree and shrub cuts. Thank you to Maggie Ritchey for leading the training. Live staking is a low-cost and practical way to repair streams and rivers from erosion. Additionally, they provide habitat, temperature control, invasive species management, and minimize pollution runoff.


We're thankful for the collaboration with Chesapeake Conservancy, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Grow Home, and Defensores de la Cuenca with this project. 


Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

During a captivating tour of SERC's biogeochemistry lab, our crew immersed themselves in experiments that simulated the impact of climate change on marsh plants. CO2 injection and temperature adjustments unveiled insights connecting field observations in the marsh with meticulous microscopic analyses in the lab. Special thanks to Emily Morrow from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for facilitating this enriching experience.


OSHA 10 Certification

Several crew members completed their OSHA 10 certifications! A pivotal accomplishment, these certifications not only bolster safety awareness but also serve as a valuable asset for future careers in the green industry.


Educational Learning

Our crew members had opportunities to expand their knowledge in climate action initiatives by joining talks by leaders in their industry. 

  • 2024 International Invasive Species Climate Change Conference Webinar

  • Rain Garden Planting Design Webinar

  • Prescribed Burn Seminar


 

Milestones, Media, and Merits


Portrait of Andres Ovalle smiling. Man with black hair and blue jacket

Certification | Andrés Ovalle

We celebrate Andrés Ovalle, our Conservation and Restoration Director, for completing the Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional - Level 2 Certification! We eagerly anticipate seeing his continued development and the utilization of his expertise to positively impact the environment.



New Additions to our Senior Crew | Matt & Owen

Welcome back Matt Hemler and Owen Jowanowitch! Both were originally from our Spring & Summer UpLift crew of 2023, and have now joined our Senior crew. We hope their skills and experiences will continue to enrich our Senior crew and contribute to the success of Howard EcoWorks. We're thrilled to have them on board as integral members of our growing organization.



Certification | James Morton

We celebrate James Morton, one of our Board of Directors, for becoming an AICP Certified Planner. James is a former READY participant, and is currently a planner for Century Engineering Inc. He remains invested in the growth of EcoWorks and we're incredibly proud of his accomplishments.


 

CONCLUSION: 


Tyra, JP, Matt L, May, and Josh all posing with a snowman, some are silly serious, and others are giggling.
Tyra, JP, Matt L, May, and Josh

As we bid farewell to January, Howard EcoWorks extends heartfelt gratitude to our dedicated employees, supportive community, and valued partners. The month was a canvas of impactful environmental initiatives, from stream restoration maintenance to professional development milestones. Our commitment to sustainability, learning, and community engagement remains unwavering.


Looking ahead, we're energized by the promise of continued growth, realizing our mission, and making lasting contributions to Howard County's ecological well-being. Thank you for being a crucial part of our journey towards a greener and more resilient future. Here’s to an amazing 2024! 


Environmental restoration, Sustainable landscaping, Professional development, Green industry, Stormwater management, Community impact, Climate action, Certification, Stream restoration, Education and training

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