Photos by Mark Jolly-Van Bodegraven
August 29, 2022
UD Presents Statewide Opportunities for Wilmington Program Students
As climate change and extreme weather events continue to threaten the planet, a host of green job opportunities have sprung up to help combat these world-threatening issues.
Fourteen students from the city of Wilmington got a first-hand look at green career opportunities for six weeks over the summer as part of the 2022 Wilmington Green Jobs program, which is coordinated by Martha Narvaez, political scientist at the Center for University of Delaware Water Resources (UDWRC), and led by the City of Wilmington Department of Parks and Recreation.
Students were selected from a pool of applicants and worked 25 hours a week in the program, earning minimum wage while completing projects or learning about the work done by nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, and a private company which welcomed students throughout the summer.
This year, students were hosted by 21 different host organizations, including UD, Delaware Sea Grant (DESG), and Delaware Cooperative Extension.
Delaware Sea Grant/Lewes Campus
For the first time since the program began 12 years ago, students had the chance to spend the night at the Hugh R. Sharp campus in Lewes. As part of an orientation to kick off the program, the students traveled to the James Farm Ecological Preserve, a preserve overseen by the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, and then spent the night at the Virden Center.
Narvaez said it was great to take over the City of Wilmington’s green jobs program in person and he couldn’t think of a better way to start it than with the overnight orientation.
“It was great getting the program started in the inland bays observing and holding horseshoe crabs and exploring the UD Joanne Daiber research vessel with Delaware Sea Grant,” Narvaez said. “This year, new and seasoned hosts provided many educational experiences for young people over the six weeks. These organizations, along with the City of Wilmington Parks and Recreation Department, make this program the great experience that it’s every year. I always enjoy getting to know each intern and watching them learn more about the environmental field while learning professional skills and forming friendships along the way.”
While in Lewes, students were able to visit the Robotics Discovery Laboratory of Matt Oliver, Patricia and Charles Robertson Emeritus Professor of Marine Science and Policy at the College of Earth, Ocean and Environment. Oliver showed the students some of the lab’s state-of-the-art equipment, such as remotely operated vehicles and autonomous underwater vehicles, and told them about some of the job opportunities available to students with the skills to pilot the equipment.
In the afternoon, the students went out on the research vessel Joanne Daiber where they participated in a trawl and observed the water quality at several sites.
David Christopher, maritime education specialist at DESG, said it was great to be able to take students on the R/V Daiber.
“They got to see a variety of marine organisms, and we hope that by providing these experiences we will encourage students to consider careers in marine science in the future,” Christopher said.
As well as spending time in Lewes with DESG, the students also worked with the organization in their home town, where they joined in using a large net to catch fish on the Brandywine River with Ed Hale, fisheries and aquaculture specialist at DESG and assistant professor. at UD’s School of Marine Science and Policy.
While it was early in the season and the group didn’t catch any American shad as they had hoped, Hale said the students had a great time getting in the water.
“I would say they enjoyed wading more than actual fish survey work,” Hale said. “I think they liked being able to connect with the water.”
Later in the program, students traveled to UD’s Newark campus where they toured the demonstration gardens at the Delaware Cooperative Extension office on Wyoming Road.
The gardens have been designed and are maintained by volunteer master gardeners and feature a variety of native species of low maintenance trees, shrubs and perennials. The gardens also provide food and showcase sustainable gardening practices where Cooperative Extension raises approximately 1,200 pounds of vegetables over three seasons of the year in raised beds, in-ground plantings, container gardens and self-watering gardens. The gardens also feature several types of berries, a pollinator garden, and other plantings that use insects to pollinate and help protect the garden from pests.
Carrie Murphy, Extension Worker and Lawn and Garden Program Manager, and volunteer Master Gardener met Wilmington Green Jobs students at the Extension Office and introduced them to the Cooperative Extension Lawn and Garden program as well as the Master Gardener program.
“Cooperative extension is an interesting career path for people who might be interested in working in agriculture and with communities,” Murphy said. “It’s empowering to work with others to show them how to plant and grow successful gardens for any purpose, but especially to produce food.”
Murphy and the master gardeners then took the students on a tour of the garden.
“In the area of the garden that features plants, students asked questions about sustainability, plant selection and care, and pollinators,” Murphy said. “In the vegetable garden, they were so excited to discover that beets grow underground. One participant was thrilled to be able to pull a beet out of the ground, then asked if she could wrap it up and take it home, which she did. ”
Additionally, Murphy said the students enjoyed tasting the berries growing in the garden.
“They were amazed that blueberries grew on shrubs and noticed that the blueberries and raspberries they tried in the garden were delicious, sweeter than those they had tried in the past,” Murphy said. .
UD Botanical Gardens
After the visit to the Cooperative Extension Office, the students toured the UD Botanical Gardens (UDBG) where they learned about the invasive plants and helped UDBG staff members eliminate English ivy, one of the invasive plants they had heard about earlier that day.
Valann Budischak, acting director of UDBG, said the day gave UDBG staff an opportunity to educate future owners about the issues with invasive plants, why they should no longer be sold and how remove plants from the landscape.
“The students seemed quite surprised at how English ivy was spreading in our garden and the challenges of hand removal,” Budischak said. “The day also gave us the chance to expose students to potential career paths in an industry with unlimited opportunity and growth potential.”
UD Water Resources Center
During the program, students also spent several days with the UD Water Resources Center (UDWRC). Narvaez and graduate students Hayley Rost, Masters of Public Administration student, and Liz Shields, Masters of Public Policy student, organized and co-hosted the events.
Among the events was a day-long professional development session where students learned about various topics such as resumes, interview skills and cover letters. The interactive session included presentations and group exercises.
The UDWRC also welcomed young people with a panel discussion with UD faculty and alumni, where panelists spoke about their career paths and research, as well as job opportunities in their respective fields. . After the panel, Rost and Shields led the students on a day-in-the-life-type tour of UD’s campus.
Finally, the UDWRC helped them develop the cornerstone of the program which was a presentation to program hosts, friends, family and City of Wilmington staff at the closing ceremony of the event. The presentations were based on an electric school bus ride and related themed content presented by Interfaith Power and Light. At the closing event, students presented the benefits of electric school buses and why the city of Wilmington and the state of Delaware should convert to electric school buses.