Environmental Volunteer Opportunities
GAITHERSBURG'S ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP PROGRAM
The City of Gaithersburg provides environmental education and stewardship opportunities to volunteers who want to help restore and enhance our community. The City is honored to be the recipient of a Chesapeake Bay Small Watershed Grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and a Chesapeake Bay Trust Grant to support these activities. These grants have helped the City develop partnerships with local schools, Homeowners Associations (HOAs), Scouting Troops, the Izaak Walton League, and various government and non-profit organizations. Volunteers from these organizations have donated time and resources to help perform stream cleanups, reforestation and landscape enhancement projects, and stream monitoring.
Gaithersburg Youth Center Environmental Service Projects: Each spring and fall, middle school students earn student service learning credits by cleaning up and landscaping the Youth Center's grounds. The students designed their own flowerbed, consisting of native and ornamental shrubs, grasses, and flowers, and continue to maintain the bed throughout the year.
Gaithersburg Middle School Environmental Service Projects: Each year, over 200 students, parents, and teachers participate in an Environmental Cleanup Day. This service project involves watershed education, a cleanup of school grounds, storm drain stenciling, and routine maintenance of the school's native habitat garden and other landscaped areas.
Volunteer Stream Monitoring Workshop: Community volunteers participated in a Stream Monitoring Workshop, co-sponsored by the Izaak Walton League, to learn about local watershed conditions, methods for conducting benthic and physical stream monitoring, and biological stream stabilization techniques.
Disease Resistant Elm Tree Planting Project: As part of a pilot program, over 40 volunteers from the Izaak Walton League, Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, the American Elm Association, Gaithersburg Middle School, and the City of Gaithersburg planted Dutch elm disease resistant American elm trees on school grounds. The school serves as a living laboratory where volunteers continue to monitor the trees and learn about Dutch elm disease, monocultures, and efforts to re-introduce the American elms into our community.
Gaithersburg Middle School Native Micronursery Partnership: The City partners with Gaithersburg Middle School to teach students about the value of native plant species and propagate native plants for use in park and schoolyard habitat restoration projects. Student volunteers collect native seeds, plant the seeds, and raise the seedlings in their school greenhouse until they are ready to plant in a local habitat restoration project.
Environmental Awareness Week: Each year around Earth Day (April 22), the City hosts a week of community volunteer activities to support local environmental awareness.
- Environmental Awards Ceremony: Gaithersburg's Environmental Affairs Committee sponsors an awards ceremony where the Mayor and City Council recognize businesses, schools, homeowners associations (HOAs), Scouting Troops, and individuals for their commitment to the environment. The awards program provides an opportunity for the City to honor its watershed partners for advisory and volunteer services and for different organizations to network and learn about local environmental efforts.
- Arbor Day Celebration: The City partners with a local elementary school to host an Arbor Day celebration where the City donates a tree to the school, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources presents the City with a Tree City Award, and the students recognize the importance of trees in our community.
- Community Cleanup Day: The City partners with local volunteers and organizations to cleanup stream valleys, school grounds, parks, and HOA common areas.
Whetstone Run Riparian Buffer Restoration Project at Victory Farm Park: Volunteers from Gaithersburg Middle School, the Girl Scouts, and the National Park Service removed invasive species and planted 100 native grasses and 190 native shrubs and trees to restore over 800 feet of stream buffer along the Whetstone Run stream at Victory Farms Park.
Long Draught Branch Riparian Buffer Education and Reforestation Project: Over 40 elementary school students and adult volunteers from Brown Station Elementary School planted native trees along 200 feet of the Long Draught Branch stream buffer. City staff worked with Brown Station science teachers to coordinate this educational day and instruct the students on the importance of riparian buffers, the benefits of restoring native plants in an area's watershed, and how their efforts affect local water quality and the Chesapeake Bay.
Morris Park Invasive Species Removal and Riparian Buffer Reforestation Project: The City partnered with the Boy Scouts in a project that conducted water quality tests in the Muddy Branch stream to determine overall stream conditions; conducted soil tests in the reforestation area to facilitate plant selection; identified and removed invasive species along the stream buffer; removed trash and debris from the stream, park, and storm drains; stenciled storm drains with "Chesapeake Bay Drainage- Don't Dump" messages to raise community awareness about the storm drain system; and planted approximately 40 native trees and shrubs along the Muddy Branch stream to restore the riparian buffer, stabilize the stream, and provide habitat for wildlife.
The City of Gaithersburg provides ongoing environmental education and volunteer opportunities to students and adults. The City is always looking for volunteers for these projects. If you or your organization is interested in becoming involved, please contact 301-258-6310 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Participation in these projects may help students earn Student Service Learning credits or be eligible for a Gaithersburg Environmental Award.
- Volunteer stream monitoring: The City works with volunteers to perform habitat, benthic, and water quality monitoring. This program provides citizens with first-hand knowledge of the quality of local water bodies, provides a cost-effective way to monitor streams between official stream assessments, and screens for potential problems that might otherwise go unnoticed. The City provides training, equipment, and data collection forms to volunteers.
- Community cleanup and landscape projects: The City organizes several community cleanup and landscape enhancement projects where student and citizen volunteers cleanup and enhance local streams, lakes, parks, schools, and community gathering areas. The City provides pick-up sticks, gloves, and trash bags for volunteer groups.
- Reforestation projects: Volunteers are needed to plant native species to help restore riparian forest buffers, enhance parks, and restore wetlands.
- Invasive exotic species removal: Invasive species are a problem in local parks. Volunteers are needed to remove these invasive plants to make room for native plants that are important to our native ecosystems.
- Pipe detectives: Volunteers are needed to report water pollution problems in local waterways. Through routine field visits, the "pipe detectives" assist City staff in finding and, to some extent, identifying illicit discharges at outfalls in targeted watersheds.
- Storm drain stenciling: The City has three storm drain stenciling kits that are available to students and citizen volunteers to stencil "Chesapeake Bay Drainage- Don't Dump" on City storm drain inlets. Instructions on stenciling are provided in the kits and volunteers are asked to mark their progress on City maps.
- Seed collection: Staff will guide seed collection trips to collect seeds for a local school native plants nursery. The nursery grows native plants to be used in local restoration projects.
If you would like to receive notification of ongoing environmental activities or volunteer for future projects, please contact Environmental Affairs at 301-258-6310 or email@example.com.
Other Local Environmental Organizations
There are many other local environmental organizations that routinely sponsor volunteer projects, training sessions, and workshops. The following provides a general list and contact information.