Visit is more than a walk in the parks


November 06, 2001|By Debra Taylor Young | Debra Taylor Young,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

ALEXANDRA LEBEDINSKAYA of Vladivostok, Russia, recently visited Piney Run Park as part of an exchange program to learn about state and national parks in the United States. Her hometown, a Pacific seaport village and major naval base, is nearly on the opposite side of the globe.

Lebedinskaya was one of 10 business entrepreneurs from Vladivostok and Siberia participating in a Community Connections Program funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and the Baltimore/Washington Corridor Chamber Foundation.

The exchange program between the United States and Russia enables participants to obtain hands-on experience while working with peers in the hosting country in their field of expertise.

Lebedinskaya's interests include ecotourism and the development of national parks.

She was particularly interested in learning about the standards the American public expects from park programs, and the use of information technology.

The knowledge she gains from the monthlong trip will be used to develop a national park in the Russian Far East, which is rich in wildlife, ranging from hundreds of bird species to large predators, such as tigers.

Her itinerary included an orientation to park operations and a meeting in Pennsylvania involving an environmental education program for high school students.

She stayed overnight at Carroll County Outdoor School, where she participated in an environmental program for middle school children.

Lebedinskaya attended a meeting with the Piney Run Park board of directors, where she witnessed the role of citizen leadership in the park.She also took part in a Chesapeake Bay Foundation field trip to Smith Island for a weekend.

The bay trip gave Lebedinskaya an opportunity to travel to Smith Island with 20 middle school pupils and chaperons, and participate in environmental education activities involving the Chesapeake Bay, such as identifying wildlife and sea life, crabbing and oystering.

She mingled with island residents and tried island fare. Lebedinskaya was surprised by the many gifts she received from children on the trip, including books on Maryland and its wildlife, and calendars showing state attractions.

When Lebedinskaya returned to Piney Run Park after dark Sunday, she said goodbye to her Carroll County hosts and new friends, and was greeted by her new host family from Annapolis.

The next two weeks of her U.S. stay will involve visiting state parks with members of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Lebedinskaya said she was grateful for the opportunity to see how Americans include tourism in their park system, and many environmental education program for students.

She said the vast number of educational programs impressed her, and she would use the information to help create similar programs in her country.

She also looked forward to returning to her family with many mementos of her trip.

Liberty drama production

Liberty High School drama students will present the story of Helen Keller in their production of The Miracle Worker at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday at the school auditorium, 5855 Bartholow Road.

Caitlyn James, 17, Brad Rankin, 17, Kristen Williamson, 17, David Anderson, 14, and Megan Boyle, 16, play leading roles in the production, with Christine Powers, 15, as Helen Keller.

Tickets are $5 at the door, and $4 in advance.

Information: 410-751-3560.

Country dance lessons

Sykesville-Freedom District Fire Department will offer country dance lessons from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. tomorrow at its newly renovated hall at Route 32 and Freedom Avenue.

Tickets are $5 and benefit the auxiliary.

Information: 410-857-1109.

Debra Taylor Young's Southeast neighborhood column appears each Tuesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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