When my family moved to Delmarva last year, I was lost. We had been to Rehoboth Beach twice in the nearly two decades we lived outside of Baltimore. I knew absolutely nothing about the peninsula.
As a former journalist, I did what any reporter would do in a strange area. I found the local newspaper and asked if I could start writing for them. One of the first stories I wrote was about the beach grass planting that DNREC organizes each year. I tried to convince my daughter to come with me, but she wasn’t interested in what she said was “watching grass grow.”
Off I drove by myself down Coastal Highway to Delaware Seashore State Park. It is the stretch of beach before you cross the bridge into Bethany Beach. It is unspoiled. No houses. No shops. No boardwalk. Just you and the beach.
When I arrived, it was cold and windy. Volunteers, of which there were many, were already planting beach grass. All of the volunteers were friendly and represented a wide cross-section of people. A pro-legalize marijuana group was planting the beach grass along with members of the Jeep Club and a few random families. The volunteers were all very different, but they all came together because they love the beach.
It is easy to see why. It is rugged and hasn’t been commercialized. It is almost like being on a private beach. For those who like to fish, they can drive their cars and trucks onto the beach attach their fishing poles to the front and bring a cooler. That is right, you can tailgate at the beach. That is pretty cool. You do need to get a permit first though.
But, back to the beach grass.
The beach grass is planted to protect the beach from disappearing. The grass traps the sand in the dunes when storms hit and the wind blows the sand. The beach grass acts as a natural barrier against erosion.
The beach planting efforts start on the northern shores of the bay and end at the southern most point of Delaware, Fenwick Island.
By the time I registered my family this year all of the spots at the northern beaches were taken. Fenwick Island was all that was left. That was fine. My kids have never met a beach they didn’t like.
For families who want to teach their kids about the environment and giving back to their communities, Delmarva offers plenty of opportunities to do both. Beach grass planting is just one of those opportunities. The annual beach grass planting takes place in March. But, the state also offers other opportunities for those who want to volunteer at the state parks throughout the year.
I think this is a great way to teach my kids about giving back to their community. It also is teaching them about the environment and science.
If you are interested, Delaware offers plenty of opportunities to give back and be good stewards of nature. For those who are interested in a purposeful vacation involving nature, DNREC offers a variety of opportunities for people to volunteer. Check out DNREC’s website by clicking here.