By Mike McClure

Representatives from Chesapeake Conservancy spoke at last Saturday’s MERIT meeting in Seaford. Chesapeake Conservancy also presented the students with hands-on lessons at the Oyster House Park in Seaford.

Randall Larrimore spoke to the students about growing up in Seaford and his efforts to help create the Oyster House project.

MERIT students receive lessons from representatives from Chesapeake Conservancy last Saturday at the Oyster House Park in Seaford. Photo by Mike McClure

“Delaware is in my blood. We have a lot in this state to be proud about,” said Larrimore. “You keep working and striving and doing things, you can make things happen.”

Also present was Keith Warren, the Chief of Staff for Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long. Warren and MERIT’s John Hollis presented Larrimore with tributes from the governor and the state senate and house of representatives. Tributes were also given to Melissa Ehrenreich and Gaby Roffe of Chesapeake Conservancy.

Ehrenreich introduced Roffe, who is the Manager of Equity and Community Engagement for Chesapeake Conservancy.

Roffe said her first job out of college involved walking in the Mohave Desert 10 hours a day looking for endangered tortoises. She found three in six months.

Roffe later moved back to her hometown of Baltimore where she worked for the National Aquarium. She worked with communities in the city effected by environmental pollution and helped them find their voice.

She said there is not much diversity in the environmental field, adding that a diversity of perspectives and life experiences is needed. Roffe also said more equitable access to resources is needed.

“Your dream job might not exist because you’re going to create it some day,” she told the students, adding that her job with Chesapeake Conservancy is a new position.

After the presentation at Mt. Olivet Church, the students went to Oyster House Park where they rotated between four learning stations led by Chesapeake Conservancy representatives. The next phase of the park will include a green amphitheater.

“This new park is at the center of economic revitalization efforts across western Sussex County to create Seaford as the perfect place to start a new business and now a new outdoor adventure on the Nanticoke,” said Hollis, a longtime supporter of the Oyster House Park who began his career as an environmental science teacher. “It is also a critical community asset to create the future scientists we will need to ensure the Nanticoke River stays healthy for generations to come. We are blessed to have such an amazing learning laboratory in our community for MERIT kids, families, and visitors to the region.”

MERIT students will hear from DNREC Fish and Wildlife and will go fishing at its October meeting.