Science Serving Maryland's Coasts

Maryland Sea Grant Extension Specialist Named to Green Fellowship

February 3, 2014

Amanda Rockler and Her Grant Money Will Support Training Watershed Stewards

Amanda Rockler, a watershed restoration specialist at Maryland Sea Grant Extension, has been named to a prestigious fellowship program that supports leaders who work on conservation projects.

Rockler joins a group of 40 men and women who were honored in fall 2013 as this year’s Toyota TogetherGreen Fellows. The program, a collaboration between the Toyota car company and the National Audubon Society, seeks to promote environmentally sustainable living. Its fellows engage in a wide variety of efforts to help their communities through protecting threatened wildlife, ensuring a steady supply of clean drinking water, and other activities. Rockler’s fellowship, which will last one year, comes with a $10,000 grant to help support her conservation projects.

A member of the Sea Grant team since 2009, Rockler has worked to improve the water quality of streams and other waterways that flow into the Chesapeake Bay. Her efforts focus on limiting the environmental impacts of the urban and suburban stormwater that flows off roofs and sidewalks during heavy rains and winds up, eventually, in nearby water supplies. Stormwater can carry high levels of nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, and contributes significantly to poor water quality in the Bay and its tributaries.

During her fellowship year, Rockler will use the Toyota grant to support Maryland’s growing number of Watershed Stewards Academies. These training programs -- located around the state -- give community leaders the skills they need to help improve the health of their local watersheds. So far, more than 150 men and women have graduated from the academies. Rockler’s grant will help current students to fund their own stormwater projects. Such projects may include building new rain gardens. These gardens, designed to be extra-absorbent, store stormwater during large downpours, helping to keep excess nutrients out of waterways.

In addition to giving out grants, the Toyota TogetherGreen program also provides its fellows with training to help them become better leaders. In October 2013, Rockler attended a week-long leadership training program in Ohio and will meet again with all 40 fellows in September 2014. “The support has been really great,” she says.

To learn more about Maryland’s Watershed Stewards Academies, listen to our podcast. You can also read more about Maryland Sea Grant’s team of five Watershed Restoration Specialists here.

The faculty members of Maryland Sea Grant Extension provide outreach to residents across the state on a range of issues, including stormwater management, oyster aquaculture, and climate change. Our goal is to support the local economies of Maryland communities while helping them to live sustainably within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Maryland Sea Grant supports innovative marine research, education, and public outreach, primarily about the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, to support a sustainable coastal environment and economy. We are jointly funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the state of Maryland.

Photo: Amanda Rockler (first row, far right) poses with Watershed Stewards Academies students while working on a stormwater management project. Credit: Amanda Rockler.

--Daniel Strain