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Delaware Governor: Jack Markell

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  Archived Posts From: 2011


Walk on the WILD Side of Volunteering

Written on: October 29th, 2011 in Helping Our Neighbors

The fall is a great time to be outside (probably not today though).  And…it’s always a great time to volunteer.  That’s why we asked Lynne Staub, our volunteer coordinator for the Division of Fish and Wildlife to tell us more about the incredible variety of volunteer opportunities they offer.


Lynne Staub, Division of Fish and Wildlife

Have you ever listened to frogs calling on a warm summer night, or gotten so close to Delaware’s shorebirds you could almost count their feathers? Have you ever had an opportunity to help restore wildlife habitat with a simple pair of loppers? Volunteer with DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife and you’ll soon find yourself in the middle of exciting activities such as these and much more!

Volunteering with Birds!The Division is committed to the conservation and restoration of wildlife species and habitats, and to providing safe and enjoyable fishing, hunting and boating opportunities.  Volunteers play a key role by monitoring wildlife species, restoring native habitats and helping teach environmental education programs.

So if you want to come over to the WILD side of volunteering, DNREC offers plenty of programs to unleash your inner-environmentalist.

Just next month, the Division of Fish and Wildlife is looking for volunteers to help with three projects in state wildlife areas:

The Division of Fish & Wildlife’s volunteer activities range far and wide, covering fish and fowl and plenty in between.

  • Happily Volunteering with DNRECWant to do more toward helping wildlife? Check out the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, which include monitoring opportunities for frogs, shorebirds, piping plovers, osprey, bats and breeding birds.
  • Is education a little more up your alley? The Division is always looking for volunteers to assist with educational programming at the DuPont Nature Center near Milford, the Aquatic Resources Education Center on the Rt. 9 Greenway outside Smyrna, and with the hunter and boater education programs throughout the state.
  • Or just wanting to get outside a little and get moving? Why not sign up for a wildlife area project and help to maintain duck blinds and deer stands, plant trees, remove invasive plants, or keep an eye out for other restoration projects!

Speaking of restoration projects, click here for the calendar of upcoming volunteer opportunities and visit this page to see the broad range of activities. (Please note: there are some age restrictions). Please call ahead to register with contact information in case of inclement weather:  Lynne Staub at 302-735-3600 or

Do something wild and lively this fall,

and get outside with Fish & Wildlife!

Volunteer with DNREC!

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Guest Post from… Smokey the Bear!

Written on: October 22nd, 2011 in AgricultureGuest Posts

We’re excited to feature a guest post by…none other than…Smokey Bear!

Smokey and Governor MarkellDid you know that wildfires have burned almost 8 million acres in the United States this year? And did you know that most of these wildfires were caused by humans?

In 2010, humans caused 64,807 wildfires, while 7,164 were started by lightning.

That’s nine times as many fires due to human carelessness than any other reason!

This is why I simply can’t “bear” the fact that some people haven’t gotten the important message about wildfire prevention and fire safety.

Smokey Bear greets students at South Dover Elementary

Even though Delaware is small, almost a third of its land area (around 30 percent) is still forested. Not only do these scenic areas provide cleaner air and water, the woods are where some of my dearest friends – squirrels, raccoons, deer, and birds – make their homes.

Trees are a sustainable source of paper, building materials, medicines and other goods that make life easier and provide jobs and income for many people. But a tree lost to a needless fire is gone forever. That’s why our forests depend on us to protect them so that future generations can enjoy their many benefits.

Because October is National Fire Prevention Month (and Delaware’s forests are very beautiful this time of year!), I’m partnering with Governor Jack Markell and the Delaware Forest Service to visit first-graders in the state’s public and private elementary schools this month. I’m happy to report that I’ve met some very smart and enthusiastic students who’ve been quick to learn my “Five Rules for Fire Safety”:

  1. “Only you can prevent wildfires!”
  2. Smokey’s A-B-C’s – “Always Be Careful” with fire.
  3. Never play with matches or lighters.  If you find matches or a lighter or see a fire, tell a grown-up quickly.
  4. Always watch your campfire.
  5. Make sure your campfire is completely out before leaving it.

Last year, I visited 102 schools in Delaware and met almost 9,000 children. I cannot express how extremely happy I am when a child shakes my hand, looks me in the eye, and tells me: “Smokey, I promise to never play with matches.”

But remember, fire safety isn’t just for young people. If you’re over 13 years of age, you can take the Smokey Pledge (click here) and also sign up for a free newsletter. You can also learn about my story and find out how I got started in wildfire prevention.

Don’t forget, I’m counting on YOU.

South Dover Elementary School students listen to Henry Poole of the Delaware Forest Service talk about the importance of fire safety and wildfire prevention. The visit is part of the annual Smokey Bear educational programs for Delaware first-graders.

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Guest Post: Joseph Masiello, 2010-2011 Teacher of the Year

Written on: October 17th, 2011 in EducationGuest Posts

Last October, Joseph Masiello — a sixth grade language arts teacher from Cab Calloway School of the Arts in the Red Clay Consolidated School District — was named State Teacher of the Year for 2011. As this year’s 20 nominees prepare for Tuesday night’s award banquet when they will learn who will be the 2012 State Teacher of the Year, Mr. Masiello shares one last message as Delaware’s “Top Teacher.”

Each day teachers arrive early to their classroom and work late into the afternoon hours — often times bringing work home to be completed throughout the weekend hours as well. We know we will never be paid the salaries of Wall Street employees and we most likely will not receive the recognition that many people get in other careers.

But we continue to teach each and every day knowing that our rewards are far greater than any monetary accolade could provide: We know that we have an opportunity each day to change the world.

A teacher comes in contact with thousands of lives throughout his/her career and has the amazing opportunity to change outcomes, to send a child down a path that he or she never may have considered. Teachers have the opportunity to influence our world, to make it a better place to live in.

As the Delaware Teacher of the Year, I was fortunate to meet many teachers from our great state, and I came to realize that there are hundreds of teachers who are worthy of the same title that I was fortunate to hold for the 2011 year.

It became my mission to speak for those teachers: teachers who come to work each and every day, teaching in innovative ways , inspiring their students to reach higher and to push just a little bit harder. It became my goal to tell the people of our state that we have so many amazing teachers in Delaware and they too are working tirelessly to motivate, inspire and educate the children of our schools.

I am proud and humbled to have been given the opportunity to represent such a stellar group of Delaware teachers. Thank you!

Last year  I sat in the very same seats as this year’s 20 nominees, trying desperately to convince my family and friends that I would not be selected as the Delaware Teacher of the Year. I didn’t want anyone to be disappointed, and as I talked on and on, I realized no one was paying attention to me. I later pulled my partner aside and asked him if they weren’t listening because they were so sure I would be chosen.

He said something I will never forget: “Joey, no one is here to see you accept an award. You’ve already won — you won when you first became a teacher, you won when you took that first job 29 years ago making $10,000 a year, you win every time we’re out in public and a student comes up to you to say ‘thank you’ for being their teacher. We are here to celebrate all that you’ve done for the kids you have taught every day of each year you have been teaching. Tonight is not about choosing a winner, that’s already been done.”

My message to each and every teacher in the room tomorrow night is you already have won. You all are amazing, and the night is all about you.

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Cool Spring Farmers Market – Rain or Shine Tonight

Written on: October 13th, 2011 in Agriculture

Delaware Fresh:

The leaves are turning and it’s a great day to get outdoors.  We helped kick off the Sussex Outdoors Summit this morning and we’ll be celebrating the success of Cool Spring Farmers Market in Wilmington this evening.

It may be getting colder, but you can still get fresh fruit and vegetables.  There are plenty of ways to enjoy Delaware agriculture this season – there are a few farmers markets still open; you can visit on-the-farm stands and shops; and for a more hands-on experience you can pick your own pumpkin!

The Delaware Department of Agriculture has put together this great guide with plenty of options.  You can also download Delaware Fresh for Androids or iPhones – it will lead you to the closest farmers market or stand.

Farmers markets can help you live healthier, but they’re also a lot of fun.  Come out today (Thursday, Oct 13, 4pm – 8pm) to celebrate the success of Cool Springs Farmers Market, offered by West End Neighborhood House’s Bright Spot Ventures Program and the Cool Springs Neighborhood Association. It features a selection of Delaware produce from leading farmers’ market producers: Tommy Eliassen and Fifer Orchards Farm and is located in Cool Springs Park at 10th and Jackson Streets in Wilmington.

A variety of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meats, spreads, and homemade pastas, breads and snacks are available for sampling and purchase while enjoying live musical performances.

In addition to providing the community with healthy alternatives, several farmers have donated portions of their unsold crops for distribution through the emergency food closet and for healthy cooking workshops conducted by the Life Lines program for former foster care youth.

The market is also providing employment opportunities and training for a group of former foster care youth through the Bright Spot Ventures social enterprise. They have been doing a great job setting up and taking down the market every week, as well as selling some of the fruits and vegetables.  A portion of all sales are given to Bright Spot Ventures to support continued vocational training.


For more information on how to enjoy fresh produce and Delaware agricultural activities, check out the Department of Agriculture’s 2011 Agricultural Directory.

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3 Delaware Schools to Bring Home Blue Ribbons

Written on: September 28th, 2011 in EducationGuest Posts

Guest post from Secretary of Education Dr. Lillian M. Lowery

Educators, in partnership with invested parents and community members, are working hard across our state to close achievement gaps and ensure every child is succeeding. Some of that work recently led to national honors.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recognized three Delaware schools, among about 300 nationwide, this month as 2011 National Blue Ribbon Schools. The award honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools whose students achieve at very high levels or have made significant progress and helped close gaps in achievement, especially among disadvantaged and minority students.

Long Neck Elementary School in the Indian River School DistrictNellie Hughes Stokes Elementary School in the Caesar Rodney School District, and West Park Place Elementary School in the Christina School District are among the public and private schools that will be honored at a November awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Long Neck Principal David C. Hudson, Stokes Principal Corey Miklus and West Park Place Principal Ledonnis A. Hernandez — each accompanied by a teacher representative — will represent the state at the ceremony.

Each year since 1982, the Blue Ribbon Schools Program has honored public and private schools based on one of two criteria:

1) Schools whose students, regardless of backgrounds, are high performing. These are schools ranked among the state’s highest performing schools as measured by their performance on state assessments or in the case of private schools, that score at the highest performance level on tests referenced by national norms in at least the most recent year tested; and

2) Schools with at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds that improve student performance to high levels as measured by the school’s performance on state assessments or nationally-normed tests.

You can learn more about the Delaware winning schools, their student bodies and how their children are succeeding on state exams by visiting the schools’ profiles on the state’s website.

The Delaware Department of Education’s vision is that every single student in our system will graduate college and career ready, with the freedom to choose his or her life’s course. Key in that statement is the phrase “every single student.” Until every achievement gap is closed and every student — regardless of race, economic background or any other factor — is excelling and leaving our classrooms ready to compete with global peers in the college classroom or marketplace, our work is not complete.

We have a plan to get there and, thanks to the state’s first-place win in the competitive Race to the Top program, we have $119 million in federal grants to get the work done.

While not taking our eyes off the work ahead, we also must celebrate the progress being made and the milestones achieved by these outstanding schools and their dedicated educators, students and parents.

A list of previous Delaware winners is here.


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