Get the family volunteering during Day to Serve

DaytoServeGet the family involved in Day to Serve, an annual volunteering event in Maryland and the surrounding states, that started Sept. 11 and runs through Sept. 28.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is participating in the Day to Serve volunteer effort and is hosting a number of service projects, from a statewide food drive to State Park cleanups, giving Marylanders the opportunity to help their fellow citizens and their natural world.

"From Sept. 11 to the 28, we're urging Marylanders from across our state to come together and serve," said Gov. Martin O'Malley. "When you choose to participate in Day to Serve you help feed the hungry, improve our neighborhoods, and clean up green spaces in and around our communities."

As part of the effort, the Maryland Natural Resources Police is calling on everyone to help Fill the Canoe with non-perishable food items at the Tawes State Office building lobby, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis. They are accepting items every day during regular business hours throughout the two-week period. All donations go to the Annapolis Light House shelter and area food banks.

Also through Day to Serve, and in celebration of National Public Lands Day, State Parks across Maryland are hosting family-friendly park cleanups and other restoration projects on Saturday, Sept. 27. Volunteers are needed to perform a variety of tasks including collecting litter and debris, pulling invasive plants and planting trees.

Volunteers are encouraged to contact the state parks in advance to register. Here are some of the participating parks and activities scheduled.

Day to Serve volunteer opportunities


Washington Monument State Park
Saturday 9/27/14, 8 a.m. to noon
Contact: Chris Gleason-Smuck, 301-791-4656
6620 Zittlestown Road, Middletown MD 21769
Volunteers will meet at Washington Monument State Park at 8 a.m. and work until noon removing invasive plant species. There is no age limit for participants but youth are asked to be supervised by a parent or guardian. Volunteers are asked to wear clothes appropriate for trail work, gloves, and sturdy boots. Binoculars would be helpful to watch for migrating hawks but not necessary. Volunteers should also bring water, trail snacks, insect repellant and enthusiasm to make a difference in their State Parks.

Elk Neck State Park
Saturday 9/27/2014, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Contact: Jeanette Thayer, 410-287-5333
4395 Turkey Point Road, North East MD 21901
Come out and celebrate Public Lands Day at Elk Neck State Park! You will be among thousands of people nation-wide who volunteer their time to benefit America's public lands. Work side-by-side with park staff and afterwards enjoy a live animal program featuring some of Maryland's most common reptiles. Meet in the North East Beach Area. Volunteers should wear sturdy shoes and bring work gloves.

Tuckahoe State Park
Saturday 9/27/2014, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Contact: Jessica Conley, 410-820-1668
13070 Crouse Mill Road, Queen Anne MD 21657
Meet at the Lake Pavilion and help celebrate National Public Lands Day by donating a little of your time to improve the park. Volunteers should wear sturdy shoes and bring work gloves.

Pocomoke River State Park
Saturday 9/27/2014, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Contact: Kayla Frank, 410-632-2566
3461 Worcester Highway, Snow Hill MD 21863
Meet at the Milburn Landing boat ramp parking lot. Volunteers will improve the Bald Cypress Nature Trail and assist with a park cleanup. Volunteers should wear sturdy shoes and bring work gloves, water and a snack.

New Germany State Park
Saturday 9/27/2014, 9 a.m. to noon
Contact: Carrie Osborn, 301-895-5453
349 Headquarters Lane, Grantsville MD 21536
Meet at parking lot No. 5. Volunteers will assist park staff with busy honeysuckle removal in the day use area and along trails. Participants will learn the benefits of replacing non-native species with native plants to promote conservation and ecological processes. Volunteers should bring work gloves and water and wear closed-toed shoes.
Park staff will also sponsor a guided hike of the Monroe Run Trail in Savage River State Forest, located off New Germany Road, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. This 4.3 mile hike includes an introduction to the forest ecosystem, common Appalachian flora and fauna and over 20 stream crossings. Hiking boots suitable for ankle-deep stream crossings and drinking water are recommended for this moderately strenuous trail.

Western Maryland Rail Trail
Saturday 9/27/2014, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Contact: Bob Study, 301-842-2155
11100 Fort Frederick Road, Big Pool MD 21711
Join volunteers around the nation to celebrate your local public lands. Meet at the Big Pool Station parking lot of the Western Maryland Rail Trail to help park staff clean up litter, weeds and other debris. Volunteers should bring work gloves, water and be sure to dress for the weather.

Herrington Manor State Park
Saturday 9/27/2014, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Contact: Roy Musselwhite, 301-334-9180
222 Herrington Lane, Oakland MD 21550
Join volunteers and help plant trees in the park's picnic area. Meet at the Lake House. Volunteers should bring work gloves, water and sturdy shoes. This event will be held rain or shine so dress for the weather.

Cunningham Falls State Park
Saturday 9/27/2014, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Contact: Eric Creter, 301-271-7574
14039 Catoctin Hollow Road, Thurmont MD 21788
Join park staff for a guided three mile hike on the Catoctin and Falls Trails circuit. Participants can enjoy the fall colors of local hardwood trees and see Cunningham Falls. Families should bring water and a snack and wear sturdy hiking shoes.

Seneca Creek State Park
Saturday 9/27/2014, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Contact: Bethany Lillard, 301-924-2127
11950 Clopper Road, Gaithersburg MD 20878
Join park staff in the peony gardens at Seneca Creek and help transplant peonies. Volunteers should bring work gloves and a small shovel if they have one. No RSVP's are necessary.

Newtowne Neck State Park
Saturday 9/27/2014, Noon to 3 p.m.
Contact: 301-872-5688
21310 Newtowne Neck Road, Leonardtown MD 20650
The Maryland Park Service will be hosting an Open House at Newtowne Neck State Park. The Open House will be held at the Newtowne Neck Farmstead located at 21310 Newtowne Neck Road in Leonardtown. Park staff will be showcasing the natural beauty of the park, with Rangers on site to talk to visitors and gather public input, using a survey, as part of the master planning process for the 776-acre property. Rangers and volunteers will be on hand to provide kayak/canoe paddles, bird watching walks, and Scales and Tales Programs. Local archaeologists will be available to talk about the rich history of the park and collect information from visitors about past activities on the property. A Design Charette at the College of Southern Maryland will follow the Open House from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. If you are interested in attending the Design Charette, click here for additional information and to register or call 301-872-5688. (Registration is recommended to ensure appropriate space and staffing.)

Assateague State Park
Saturday 10/4/2014, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Contact: Cherie Rodriguez, 410-641-2120, ext. 24
7307 Stephen Decatur Highway, Berlin MD 21811
The Friends of Assateague State Park will host a live bird display, crafts and interpretation booth in the day use area of the state park. Visit the Friends of Assateague State Park for additional information about this volunteer organization.

For more details visit the Department of Natural Resources Day to Serve website.

Photo courtesy of Department of Natural Resources