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We at Earth Data think it’s fun to learn about ecosystems and the habitat of the Chesapeake Bay. But will a group of second graders think so? 

On April 22, Earth Data Hydrogeologist Mary Wakefield spoke to a group of students at the Ridgely Elementary School in Ridgely, Maryland in celebration of the 49th anniversary of Earth Day. Though she has a wealth of knowledge about the Chesapeake Bay habitat, she knew it was important to give the students a practical example of how even one organism can make a difference. She focused on the Chesapeake region’s favorite bivalve—the oyster. 


Mary knew it was important for the students to walk away from her presentation with examples of how the seemingly simple oyster is crucial in keeping the water of the Chesapeake Bay clean. She explained that oysters eat algae that clouds the water of the Bay and its tributaries. 

According to Mary, they were most interested in the Bay being cleaned because oysters love to eat. That seemed fun. It concerned them that oyster eggs float away from the sedentary, mature oysters, never to be nurtured by another oyster. There was a worry that predatory tiger sharks may feed on the uncared-for eggs floating with the current. “I was fun to watch the kids figuring this out,” she said. 

She corrected their young assumptions and reassured them that the oyster eggs are safe from tiger sharks. When she thinks of their concerns and questions, she smiles. But she sees the importance of education. Mary says, “What struck me the most was how impressionable they were. When I spoke about the importance of caring for our ecosystem, I’m confident it will stick with them. They know why it’s important.”

EmployeesJoe Willey