Ann Jackson, an Olde Severna Park resident, was inspired by her own waterfront home to take care of the local waterways. In 2009, she attended the first Watershed Steward Academy (WSA) class to take matters into her own hands. After retiring during the pandemic, Jackson devoted her free time to WSA and saving the waterways.
An organization associated with Anne Arundel County Public Schools, WSA trains members of the community to be Master Watershed Stewards and encourages them to implement change in their communities.
“I always wanted to do environmental projects and I was interested in whatever I could do to help save the environment,” Jackson said. “Until I joined WSA, I didn't really have a focus or a group of people to connect with.”
She originally became involved when a neighbor recommended the program to her. Now, she is still working with WSA as a member of the Maintenance Corps and, most recently, as a Tree Trooper.
“There's often a lot of talk around what we need to do, but with these two programs, there were actually things I could do,” Jackson said. “I could help in a rain garden, I can plant trees, I could remove invasive [plants] and there was a group of people who were also interested in the same thing.”
As a member of the Maintenance Corps, Jackson follows up on previous projects to ensure that everything is still in good shape.
“We help people who need assistance maintaining their rain garden or conservation gardening project,” Jackson said. “A lot of times, these projects go in the ground and they're great projects, but then you also need to maintain them or they start to fail.”
Jackson discovered the Tree Troopers, a group of people who plant trees in communities and on residential property to improve the tree canopy and environmental conditions, just before the pandemic. After the Maintenance Corps slowed down during the pandemic, Jackson dove headfirst into the Tree Troopers.
The troopers plant native and resilient trees including river birch, sassafras, flowering dogwood, magnolia, witch hazel and so many more. Jackson said her personal favorite is river birch.
“The bark sort of peels off and it's just a beautiful tree,” Jackson said.
Jackson was nominated for the Volunteer of the Month award by DJ Gile, a fellow Tree Trooper and Olde Severna Park resident, who said Jackson is deserving of the recognition. Jackson said that Gile’s own dedication inspires her to continue volunteering. Together with their community, Gile and Jackson planted 200 trees in Olde Severna Park, 50 of which were in Gile’s yard. Jackson hopes to inspire the community the same way that Gile has inspired her.
“I hope we inspire the community to plant even more trees because individual property owners, some of them have room for many trees on their property,” Jackson said. “It's a matter of recognizing the importance of it and the trees are very inexpensive.”
Each tree costs $20 and will be approximately four to six feet tall when planted. Jackson said it will be hard to find a deal that good anywhere else.