Olivia West, 13, of Annapolis, Maryland, a member of Girl Scouts of Central Maryland and an eighth-grader at Magothy River Middle School, organized the planting of native grasses at a nearby beach to help prevent sand erosion, contain the spread of invasive species, and reduce storm runoff pollution in the Magothy River. “Ever since I can remember, I have gone to Lake Claire Beach to relax and be with family,” Olivia explained. But over time she had noticed that the size of the beach had been significantly reduced and invasive plants were taking over. A community effort to replenish sand and replant native grasses had been unsuccessful, so when Olivia learned that the Cape St. Claire Improvement Association was planning to replant vegetation in a 150-square-foot buffer zone at the beach, she volunteered to lead the project.
Olivia began by interviewing community leaders and researching native grasses. She then presented a plan at the board meetings of local environmental agencies. Once she had permission, she obtained donations and recruited volunteers from two Girl Scout troops. She then took over the care of 250 native grass plants, which she had to water for six weeks prior to planting. On planting day, last May, a crew of 16 helped Olivia plant. Afterwards, she posted signs and put caution tape around the area to keep visitors from trampling the fledgling plants, and she continued to water the new plants through the summer and fall months. “It was an incredible experience to see the grasses go from tiny and brown to fuller green grasses thriving in the sand,” she said.