This semester’s Environmental projects Intern, Jordan Oliver, from Bowie State University, has concluded his time with the Alliance! The fall 2023 term brought some very special times which included monthly water quality monitoring, events, networking relationships, and exciting professional development opportunities.

Three people gathered around a landscaping installation

Laura Todd, Senior Green Infrastructure Projects Manager, leads Jordan and David Lanier, Green Infrastructure Projects Associate, on a tour of one of the Alliance’s green infrastructure projects in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Read on to hear Jordan discuss his incredible capstone project!

Semi-Aquatic and Aquatic Plants in the Chesapeake Bay

For my capstone project, I built on my previous one, where I compared water quality data from three different sites in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, using data from the Chesapeake Data Explorer. This semester, I took it a step further by researching semi-aquatic and aquatic plants in the Chesapeake Bay watershed that could help improve impaired dissolved oxygen levels in those areas.

A person crouching next to a creek, adding a liquid to a small glass bottle.

Jordan Oliver collects a water sample which will be processed back in the lab to calculate Dissolved Oxygen (DO) concentrations.

I focused on broadleaf cattail (Typha latifolia), arrow arum (Peltandra virginica), black needlerush (Juncus roemerianus), and pickerel weed (Pontederia cordata) because the selected genus of plants have physical and chemical characteristics that reassure restoration results. I researched the physical characteristics of the plants as well as the environmental requirements for plant growth to provide ecological benefits like soil retention and an increased dissolved oxygen levels. These factors are necessary for supporting aquatic life.

Originally, I had planned to cultivate a crop of these plants and place them into the Patuxent River at the Patuxent Wildlife Refuge, where we do monthly water quality monitoring. However, the water quality at that site is very stable, so I decided to shift my focus to researching plants that are native to the Bay and connect it with other areas that are impaired.

Eventually, I would like to expand further on this project by growing some aquatic plants that can be planted in nearby waterways to help with impaired dissolved oxygen levels.

What’s Next?

Continuing this internship from last semester, Jordan is a Biology Major and Chemistry minor who enjoys field research in most environmental fields and plans to graduate in 2024.

“It was an extreme pleasure to be invited back to the internship. I enjoyed my time back with the Alliance and the activities we’ve done. I hope I’m able to stay in contact with Alliance staff and keep the great connection we have created. The Peace Park tree planting stood out to me as my favorite time, as we worked throughout the semester. I enjoyed helping lead the group and getting to talk to a lot of the students who are interested in improving the environment.

The next plan for me is finishing my undergraduate degree and looking to get into a post baccalaureate program, or a job that tends to my career aspirations, before applying for a PhD to eventually do environmental and/or marine wildlife research.” – Jordan Oliver

A group of people gathered around a speaker holding a cattail plant.

Dr. Anne Wiley, an Associate Professor at Bowie State, teaches students about broadleaf cattails during an on-campus nature walk coordinated in part by Jordan.

A group of people outside, taking a quiz on their phones

At the Peace Park conservation landscaping planting event, Jordan leads student volunteers in an interactive educational activity exploring the benefits of native plants for local ecosystems. Students competed in a Kahoot! quiz, testing their knowledge.

By Jordan Oliver, Environmental Projects Intern, Bowie State University