Many "Helping Hands" make light work of oyster gardening service project

By Reiko Gallo '18 on October 30, 2017

Honors College service committee Honors Helping Hands partnered with The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Healthy Harbor Initiative to clean and count oysters.

For decades, Maryland's Chesapeake Bay has been called one of themost impaired waters in the nation because of nutrient pollution. Last month a group of Honors Colleges students did their part to help clean Baltimore's little corner of the Bay.

Honors College service committee Honors Helping Hands partnered with The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Healthy Harbor Initiative to clean and count oysters in the Inner Harbor. 

Oysters are not just delicious; they perform the vital function of filtering the Bay's water.

This project wasn't your average community service activity. Not only did the students make an immediate impact on the health of the Bay, it brought their classroom experience to life. This year, all freshman Honors students are required to take a Towson Seminar (TSEM) on water. Incorporating aspects of freshman TSEM with a new and interesting event, coordinators decided on oyster gardening.

“Oyster gardening is important to care for the environment. The Chesapeake Bay has large amounts of pollution from boats, nearby factories and people whose litter makes its way into the Bay,” explained Relationship Building Student Director Gabriella Harris. “All of these play a significant role in the cleanliness of the Bay, including the lives of fish, the salinity and pH levels, and more.

“Since humans have created these problems, it’s our job to do our best to fix it, which is why any volunteer opportunity to promote the health of the natural environment is great.”

Oyster cages in a pile
The students built oyster cages as part of the project.

As a part of the event, students built cages out of rubber layered wire and inserted five oysters and their spat in each cage. They will be checked on in November, February and periodically through the cold months.

“I am very excited about bringing Towson students to volunteer in Baltimore and providing them with a new experience,” says Harris. “It is so important to give back to the community.”

Honors Helping Hands is also a great way for students to get involved and meet people on campus.

“One of my favorite parts about the event was the fact that I got to hang out with my news friends,” explained Alexus Addison, first year transfer junior at Towson. “I am a community-oriented person, and Honors Helping Hands is a way I can positively impact our community as I continue my educational journey.”