ANNAPOLIS – State lawmakers are asking for $150,000 to help build a new environmental education center at Flag Ponds Nature Park in Calvert County.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Prince George’s, and Sen. Roy Dyson, D-St. Mary’s, introduced the bill Wednesday, the first day of the legislative session.
The 500-acre park on the Chesapeake Bay 10 miles south of Prince Frederick, offers nature programs for elementary and middle school groups. Andy Brown, director of educational programming for Calvert County Natural Resources Division, said no two lessons are the same.
On a typical day kids examine and measure oysters, salamanders, and other sea creatures. They record the data, which is later used by local scientists.
For the first time the park could expand the lessons to include indoor work. The new building could be used for activities such as data analysis, graph making, and writing exercises. It also would provide shelter on rainy days.
Calvert County committed more than $228,000 to the project, and the Battle Creek Nature Education Society raised $70,000 in private donations, according to Linda Fadely, director of development for the education society.
Park officials have begun planning the new building, but the designs are not finished. Funding will determine its final size, but plans call for it to be around 4,300 square feet, including two classrooms, storage space, and an office, Fadely said.
Brown said the new facility would bring environmental education to more children across the state, and he hopes to be able to schedule about twice as many classes as before.
Fadely hopes it will be ready for school groups in two years.
“An afternoon spent with hands-on programs such as those offered through Battle Creek allow students the opportunity to experience first hand the unique and natural beauty of our county,” Miller said.
“As a result they can better appreciate the importance of maintaining the delicate balance that will keep our greenscape and waterways in the same pure and pristine condition in which they were found by our forefathers.”
Fadely believes that teaching children to appreciate the environment now will pay off in the future with greater protection of natural resources.
“It’s the right thing for the state Legislature to do,” Fadely said. “It’s an investment for the state that’s going to have long-term benefits.”