Teacher’s Toolkit: Waves, Critters, and Fishnets on the Bay

Outdoor education in St. Mary’s County with Margarita Rochow

Margarita Rochow, director at ELMS Environmental Center in St. Mary’s County. Photo credit: Brion McCarthy

Second-career educator Margarita Rochow is the director of ELMS Environmental Education Center in St. Mary’s County. What fascinates her besides the great outdoors? The brain, why we’re here, cultures, landscapes, and individuals near and far, and the truth.

See if you can find Margarita’s tools in the photo above!

SHOVEL We dig into the earth to restore and improve natural ecosystems by planting native plants and removing invasive ones.

GLOVES Students provide hands-on care for native plants in the ELMS Native Plant Nursery and learn how many native insects, especially butterflies, rely on specific native plants as their host plant.

NATIVE PLANTS The milkweed plant, a product of our nursery, is host to the monarch butterfly caterpillar. We provide the plant free to schools and community groups for restoration projects, pollinator gardens, rain gardens, and more.

RACCOON, FOX, AND CRAB Students use live animals, models, and taxidermy to study adaptations, behaviors, and how animals use their external features to meet their needs.

CRITTER KEEPER Students closely and safely (for the student and the animal) observe insects and small animals to compare the diversity of life indifferent habitats.

MAGNIFYING LENS Magnifying lenses, microscopes, and binoculars are used to spark curiosity by allowing students a closer examination of insects, plankton, and birds under study.

SUNBLOCK AND HAT Two necessities!

WADERS AND DIP NET Students use waders and dip nets to collect data to make determinations of the health of the Chesapeake Bay and Patuxent River. They sample biological diversity by collecting and identifying aquatic species, and conduct water quality tests including nitrates, phosphates, dissolved oxygen, and salinity.