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Roots and Growth: 2023 in Review with Howard EcoWorks

Updated: Apr 11

In 2023, Howard EcoWorks achieved milestones in environmental restoration and sustainable landscaping while driving workforce development in the green industry. Our commitment to impactful projects, professional development, and organizational growth reflects our dedication to fostering environmental stewardship. Throughout the year, our team engaged in transformative initiatives, leaving a lasting impact on Howard County's landscape. Dive into the significant strides we’ve made, showcasing our dedication to a greener future and sustainable workforce.


2023 Metrics list

In 2023 UpLift, READY, & Senior crews accomplished: 

  • 727 Native Trees Installed

  • 6,421 Native perennial plants installed

  • 46 projects installed (rain gardens, conservation gardens and tree plantings

  • 9,082 sq ft of gardens installed

  • 26 stream restoration sites maintained

  • 77,440 lbs of debris removal

Major Projects

Our team at Howard EcoWorks dedicated themselves to environmental restoration projects, across Howard County and the lower Baltimore region. We’re highlighting some of our major accomplishments; however, more details can be found in our monthly recaps. 

Rain Garden:

  • Clocktower Community: Installed a 415 sq ft rain garden designed to trap thousands of gallons of stormwater runoff and provide habitat for native wildlife. Learn more about this project here.

  • Deering Woods: Installed a 250 sq ft shallow rain garden for the Deering Woods Community. This project enhances the habitat for wildlife and addresses drainage issues in the area. Learn more about this project here.

Conservation Landscapes:

  • Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church & Kill Your Lawn | Ellicott City: We collaborated on a 1,700 sq ft conservation landscape that will be featured on the upcoming show "Kill Your Lawn" hosted by Joey Santore. Learn more about this project here. 

  • Glen Mar UMC: Installed a 350 sq ft garden, extending from an existing landscape, to provide a haven for pollinators. In collaboration with Interfaith Partners of the Chesapeake and funded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust grant

  • Patuxent Triangle HOA | Laurel: Installed a 772 sq ft of conservation landscape divided into five distinct beds based on varying site conditions. Our approach involved soil preparation, native plant installation, integrating river rocks, pavers, and coir matting.

  • Septic Field Landscape Gardens: Installed two 400 sq ft gardens funded in part by the Clean Water Fund. Learn more about this project here. 

  • Sturgis Moore Park Pollinator Garden: Installed 750 sq ft garden, fully funded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust

  • Saint John’s Episcopal Church | Ellicott City: Installed 2,000 sq ft of conservation landscaping using over 640 native perennials and shrubs.

  • Clocktower Community: Installed 1,780 sq ft of conservation gardens with native perennials and shrubs, and built natural stairs connecting the community to nearby trails. Learn more about this project here.

  • Pollinator Gardens| Seed School of Maryland, Baltimore: Installed two pollinator gardens featuring 400 sq ft of native perennials and shrubs. 

Plant Installations: 

  • Kittamaqundi Community: Installation of a 450 sq ft of bioretention planting involving around 150 native perennials, grasses, and trees. 

  • Atholton High School: Planting of two bio-retention ponds covering a total of 5,000 sq ft, with several thousand native plants and 14 native shrubs planted. Learn more about this project here.

  • Vernal Pool Project | Howard County Conservancy: Planted a 430 sq ft vernal pool which will serve as an important habitat for native animals and insects such as frogs. Features water-loving native plants. Learn more about this project here. 

Tree Plantings:

Forest Restoration: 

  • Emerson Community: Our crew spent several months removing 15,680 lbs of invasive plant species from this 9-acre property.

  • Fairwood Forest | Baltimore: Fairwood Forest is a 4-acre property that was saved from development by Green Space Baltimore, and had a 90% invasive vine cover on the forest floor. UpLift and Ready crews spent several days removing invasive vines and plants in a collaborative restoration effort. Learn more about this project here.

Conservation Work

Beyond major projects, our staff and crews are collaborating on several types of environmental restoration and work that span from communities to private homeowners.

  • Stream Restoration Site Maintenance: This work involves invasive species removal and debris removal to keep existing native plants healthy. Our goal is to keep these green spaces healthy and thriving. Most of our work is within public land and forested areas around Howard County.

  • Previous garden and tree Installation Maintenance: We may visit tree plantings or conservation gardens that were installed by previous crews or other organizations and maintain them from invasive vines and shrubs. 

  • EcoCrews: This service is similar to general landscaping where our experienced crew members maintain gardens, mulch, compost, prune, and remove debris and invasive plants. We offer a low-tech environmental approach to garden and yard care.

Check out our Services for more information on how you can get involved. 

Professional Development and Industry Exposure

We’re fostering future environmental stewards and leaders by having our crews and staff trained, certified, and exposed to green industry initiatives. These experiences enhance their climate expertise and foster essential skills for their future careers and networking with industry professionals. 


For UpLift and READY

For Staff or Senior crew

  • CBLP-1 & 2 (Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional Certification)

  • Chainsaw Certification

  • Pesticide Application Certification

Webinar Training

  • Sara Via: Economics of Climate Change

  • Greenscapes Symposium

  • Spotted Lanternfly ID training

  • Stormwater Networking

  • Climate Webinar

  • Introduced Plant Pathogens Threatening North American Forests

Industry Exposure

In-House Training

  • Training Installation Garden at Seeds of Change

  • Native Plant ID 

  • Invasive Plant ID 

  • Tree Planting

  • Tree Pruning

  • Biochar Burn Demonstration 

  • BMP Assessment Training

  • Leadership Training

  • Ellicott City Case Study with Lori Lilly

  • Winterization Maintenance 

  • Finance Literacy

  • How to Network Professionally

  • Resume Building Workshop

  • Media Day, professional headshots


In 2023 we had three major opportunities for volunteers to get involved with our organization from tree planting to invasive removal. This list does not include the plenty of volunteers who attend activities at our native plant nursery, Seeds of Change, who range from Maryland Master Gardeners to Scouting groups.

  • MLK Day Watershed Makeover: Our staff and crew led groups of volunteers throughout Howard County for beautification and debris clean up. 

  • Alternative Spring Break: Our crews led groups of volunteers, primarily high school students and families for early spring garden maintenance throughout Columbia. 

  • Massive Tree Planting Event: We planted 51 trees at the  Columbia Association land in the Jeffers Hill / Long Reach Village with a large group of volunteers. 

Major Milestones

EcoWorks Expansion

  • In 2023, 18 participants received certificates. These certificates are tailored for the green industry and environmental sector. 

  • 56 program participated in UpLift, READY and EcoAmbassadors.

  • Thanks to generous donations and growth opportunities we were able to hire additional people onto our crews. We expanded 1 additional position for UpLift and 7 for READY compared to 2022. 

  • In 2023 we added additional staff positions: a field technician, a conservation-restoration director, a communications and outreach coordinator, and 4 senior crew positions. 

The ability to expand our hiring positions means more opportunities for people to start their careers in the green industry. It means more people making a difference in the environment and our local communities while earning a living. 


Throughout 2023, Howard EcoWorks garnered a remarkable $51,564 in support from our generous donors. This significant achievement was made possible through various channels, including successful campaigns on social media, impactful Giving Tuesday efforts, and a culmination in our major event, Soak It Up! As we reflect on this success, we eagerly anticipate the prospect of continuing this momentum into 2024, especially with the forthcoming Soak It Up! event.

Awards and Media

  • In 2023 Lori Lilly accepted the Gold Leaf Award presented by the International Society of Arboriculture for Outstanding Landscape Beautification Activities on behalf of Howard EcoWorks. 

  • Kill Your Lawn: We will be featured on an episode of Kill Your Lawn, releasing in April, 2024. We worked with St. Peters Episcopal to replace turf lawn for a conservation garden. Learn more here. 

  • We were featured on No, I Know Podcast in their series Waterways to Airwaves. Listen Here.

  • We were featured in the Green Dragon HCC Podcast. Listen Here.

  • We received an executive proclamation from Calvin Ball. View Here. 

Lori Lilly Talks

Lori Lilly, founder and executive director of Howard EcoWorks, gave talks and discussions on climate change, invasive plant management, biochar benefits, best management practices, and more. Here are just a few highlights from 2023. 

Seeds of Change

Seeds of Change (SOC) is our native plant nursery, located in Jessup, MD. It is behind the Howard County Correctional Facility and operates as a green industry educational center for the inmates. However, in 2023 we had a soft opening to the public for the sales of plants native to the mid-Atlantic region. In October, we launched a celebratory party and sale for our Grand Re-opening and it was a huge success. 2023 was an enormous year of growth for our nursery! 


As we bid farewell to 2023, Howard EcoWorks extends heartfelt gratitude to our vibrant community for an extraordinary year of collaboration, growth, and shared environmental passion. Together, we've achieved remarkable milestones in environmental restoration and a lasting impact on Howard County. The unwavering support, dedication, and enthusiasm from our community have been the driving force behind our success. As we journey into the new year, we look forward to continuing to build climate-resilient communities and future environmental leaders. Thank you for an amazing year, and here's to many more eco-adventures together!

Fun Crew Moments