Local students and restaurants are teaming with the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays’ 2019 “Don’t Chuck Your Shucks” program.

Representatives from Chesapeake & Maine, SoDel Concepts, CAPE for Tomorrow and Sussex Technical High School volunteered time and energy to prepare oyster shells that will be used to restore shorelines and reintroduce the American oyster — Crassostrea Virginica — to Delaware’s Inland Bays.

Chesapeake & Maine bagged more than 7.7 tons of spent oyster shell Jan. 7; on Feb. 5, SoDel Concepts, parent company of Bluecoast, Catch 54 and Fish On, among others, also bagged about 7.7 tons. Both restaurants are bagging shells and providing them to participating restaurants in the center’s “Don’t Chuck Your Shucks” program.

In 2018, the program collected just more than 4,000 bushels of empty shells.

CAPE for Tomorrow, a Cape Henlopen High School club that promotes compassion for animals and protecting the environment, joined the effort along with students from Sussex Technical High School, who traveled from Georgetown to bag shell as part of their Environmental Tech Area field trip on the topic of oyster recycling. Together, the school groups bagged 14 tons of shells. In addition to their volunteer labor, CAPE for Tomorrow students donated $200 to the center from their winter fundraiser funds.

The “Don’t Chuck Your Shucks” and shell bagging projects are two steps in the same initiative. When guests visit a participating restaurant and order oysters or clams, restaurant staff will separate discarded shell into a shell-specific receptacle. Once collected, the shell is allowed to “cure” in the sun for a minimum of six months, then bagged for use in bay-friendly restoration projects. One such project is the Read Avenue Living Shoreline planned for Dewey Beach.

Moving forward, the Center will host bagging events for local organizations and corporate groups.

For more, call 226-8105, ext. 103, email abarra@inlandbays.org or visit inlandbays.org.