Alliance To Launch New Assateague Island Programs

ASSATEAGUE – Two new educational programs will launch at Assateague Island National Seashore this week.

On Friday, the Assateague Island Alliance (AIA), the friends group that supports the national park, will launch two new weekly programs that highlight Assateague’s wild horse population and the island’s changing landscape.

As part of its mission to support educational, interpretive and scientific programs at Assateague Island National Seashore, Ashlie Kozlowski, outreach coordinator for AIA, said the nonprofit will partner with the national park to offer “Horse Tales” and “Assateague Secrets” programs.

“These programs were developed by AIA and are being presented for the first time Friday,” she said. “AIA offers special lifelong learning programs traditionally during the off season. This is a fantastic opportunity for AIA to provide weekly discovery programs for summer visitors and our local community.”

Kozlowski explained the national park asked the nonprofit to spearhead the two programs last month, after it was realized the park would not have enough workers to host its seasonal activities.

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“A need came up in June when National Park Service staff realized they were not going to get their seasonal workforce in time,” she said. “Park staff, especially at Assateague Island National Seashore, were sad that they weren’t able to provide visitors with programs they could last year and in years past. They wanted to make sure they could do whatever they did last year, so this is really an awesome opportunity for the organizations to work together. It shows how Assateague Island Alliance can step in to help.”

Kozlowski said visitors who take part in the Horse Tales program will learn about wild horse behaviors on Assateague, how the wild horses are identified through alpha-numeric codes – a system used by the park to trace a horse’s lineage and track their sub-herd – and ways individuals can protect the horse population. She added that children will receive a trinket and a card recognizing them as “horse champions.”

“We wanted to think about what questions visitors frequently asked, and we thought Horse Tales would be perfect because people don’t understand the management of the wild horses and how they behave,” she said. “It gives the visitor a lot of information and it’s user friendly.”

Kozlowski said the first program would be followed by Assateague Secrets, which will teach visitors the history of Assateague, from its old hunting lodges to exposed ship wrecks, and provide information on the island’s ever-changing landscape.

“It’s a testament to the culture and history that is rich here in Assateague,” she said.

Kozlowski noted that each program is free and open to the public and will be presented by AIA board chair Nancy Gaither.

“She is so passionate and she’s a dynamic speaker,” she said. “Anyone who goes will come away with something new.”

Kozlowski said both programs will be offered each Friday throughout the month of July and each Saturday throughout the month of August at the Assateague Island Visitor Center. The Horse Tales program will begin at 10 a.m. and will be followed by Assateague Secrets at 11:30 a.m.

“There is so much to discover on Assateague Island especially while exploring beyond the beaches and developed zone,” she said. “These programs will provide insight and inspiration for those seeking to encounter more.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.