Montgomery Parks, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, announced that Black Hill Visitor Center and Nature Programs, was one of three Montgomery County parks which have been recertified as 2018 Maryland Green Centers. The other two facilities are Meadowside Nature Center and Brookside Gardens.
The Maryland Green Center Award, presented by the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education recognizes facilities that model environmental sustainable practices, support community environmental education and guide schools through the Maryland Green School certification program.
“Schools and Green Centers that participate in the program save energy; reduce waste; conserve water; and create and restore habitat; getting students outdoors is crucial for their connection with the environment,” says Laura Johnson Collard, MAEOE Executive Director.
MAEOE is a non-profit organization with a mission is to encourage, engage and empower the community to understand, responsibly use and promote the natural world. MAEOE’s Maryland Green School program began in 1999.
Black Hill Visitor Center and Nature Programs, located in Black Hill Regional Park in Boyds, serves an average of 3,000 school children each year. The center was selected for recertification for its unique teacher-naturalist internship program, where teachers learn environmental education practices from a park naturalist, a nature-based preschool in the park and ongoing sustainability projects with local organizations and schools. A standout attraction at Black Hill Visitor Center is the one-of-a-kind Earth Bench which is made up of 1,000 pounds of trash and took 300 volunteers three months to complete.
Meadowside Nature Center, located within Rock Creek Regional Park in Rockville, has implemented several sustainable initiatives such as an outdoor nature playspace that fosters an early connection between children and nature, a compost demonstration area, a classroom built using recycled, reusable and sustainable materials and motion hand-sensor sinks and hand dryers. New program offerings include the Nature Matters lecture series aimed at adults, a climate change science program for middle to high school students and a partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Trust internship program.
Brookside Gardens, a 50-acre public display garden located in Wheaton Regional Park, recently installed a new parking garden with bioretention areas and pervious paving to capture and filter rainwater. Fluorescent bulbs in the visitor center and parking garden were replaced with LED lights and the garden’s 2017-2018 winter Garden of Lights display was crafted with 100 percent LED lights. Brookside Gardens also provides environmental education programs to thousands of students annually and this summer will unveil a newly redesigned children’s garden offering young visitors lessons on Maryland’s ecosystems.
The 2018 Maryland Green Center Awards were presented today at the Maryland Green School Youth Summit at Sandy Point State Park. Certification is valid for four years. Black Hill Visitor Center and Nature Programs and Meadowside Nature Center were previously certified in 2013. Brookside Gardens received certification in 2014.
Caption: Black Hill Nature Center.
Photo courtesy Montgomery Parks.