Sherwood Forest Naturalist Program
The Sherwood Forest Naturalist Program is an outdoor performance oriented educational program that integrates field experiences with thinking strategies. The program’s primary mission is to produce naturalists who have a stewardship ethic for their local environment. Its secondary mission is to serve as a resource by performing conservation direct-action missions. The program’s content focus is on the Chesapeake Bay and Severn River watersheds.
Approximately 385 children are trained in this program each summer as an extension of the Sherwood Forest Boys and Girls Camp. Children range in age from 3 to 16. Since the program is community-based it is typical that a child will complete the program’s 15 year curriculum.
The Sherwood Forest Naturalist Program enjoys the use of 1,200 acres of riparian and interior forest, numerous wetlands, more than 2 miles of accessible shoreline, and 100 square miles of one of the world’s largest estuaries. The Sherwood Nature Lab, located in the Clubhouse, serves as a walk through living museum of natural wonders and a staging site for numerous conservation projects.
The program’s primary methodology is one of full exposure to the wilds of the Chesapeake Bay, coupled to learning-by-doing under the supervision of subject matter experts. Utilizing a “mission” format the boys & girls Sherwood Forest over the past decade have complete numerous Bay restoration operations and projects. Their TOP TEN includes: (1) built and planted more than a dozen acres of tidal and non-tidal wetlands, (2) built Maryland’s first baygrass (Redhead) nursery which produces annual planting stock for Bay reforestation operations, (3) planted and reforested more than 50 acres of baygrass beds, (4) set (bred) millions of oysters for river conservation reefs, (5) rebuilt 4 acres of oyster beds (reefs), surveyed miles of the Severn River annually for the US Fish & Wildlife Service and Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences, (6) planted numerous threatened species in the recovery of two Sherwood bogs, (7) redeemed 300 Maryland diamondback terrapins (currently in decline and Maryland icon) and headstarted (raised from eggs) 50 more, (8) built Sherwood’s Nature Trail, (9) built Sherwood’s Confidence Course, and (10) serve as a capable community resource for environmental taskings. This year, the children of Sherwood will continue the mission.
Each year Sherwood naturalists are recognized at Trophy Night. There is no attendance criterion for the Nature Awards given out on Trophy Night and the award is based upon the completion of a Nature Project. Project ideas, references, and all necessary materials to complete a project are provided in the Nature Lab.
The Sherwood Forest Naturalist program is thankful to numerous benefactors whose generosity has provided exceptional life experiences to the children of Sherwood Forest. Benefactors include the: Sherwood Forest Endowment Fund, Digges Trust, Chesapeake Bay Trust, ExxonMobil Corporation, Anne Arundel County, University of Maryland, Severn River Association, Oyster Recovery Roundtable, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Maryland Save Our Streams, Smithsonian Institute, Maryland Diamondback Terrapin Consortium, St. Mary’s College, Yale University, Underwood & Associates, Maryland Department of Agriculture, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Department of the Environment, and countless members of Sherwood Forest and neighboring friends along the Severn River.