Rake to Plate: RWU Law Students Dive into the Clamming Industry

Organized by RWU Law’s Marine Affairs Institute, students ventured into Narragansett Bay for an immersive experience in the field of ocean and coastal law and policy.

By Grace Boland
Law students and their quahogging instructor Jody King showing off their 3 dozen quahogs in front of the ocean in which they got them.
Law students showing off their quahogs caught on a trip with clamming instructor Jody King (bottom right).

NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. – With rakes and buckets in tow, a group of Roger Williams University School of Law students devoted a rainy Friday afternoon to wade through nearly waist-high water and dig for a delicious treasure hidden beneath the waves of Narragansett Bay.   

Organized by the law school’s Marine Affairs Institute, nine students traveled to a beach in North Kingstown, R.I., for a quahogging trip on Sept. 29, led by Jody King, a local quahogging expert with over 30 years’ experience. Through this hands-on opportunity, students interested in marine law and policy applied their classroom knowledge in a practical setting and gained insights into the regulations and policies governing aquaculture in Rhode Island.  

At one of his favorite spots in North Kingstown, King shared his wealth of knowledge with the students. As the official state shell, quahogs are highly valued in Rhode Island, King said, and told the students about the recreational shellfishing policies that ensure sustainable quahog harvesting for years to come.  

“Welcome to my office,” King said to the students on the beach. “It's the best picture window in the world.”   

Law students wading into Narragansett Bay with rakes and buckets

The team at the Marine Affairs Institute, which prepares law students to enter the field of ocean and coastal law and policy, organized this first quahogging trip as part of their commitment to providing students with practical learning experiences. By stepping out of the classroom and immersing themselves in the physical act of quahogging, students gained a deeper understanding of the policies that sustain the industry and contribute to the state's Blue Economy.  

"Through hands-on opportunities like these, we show students how the regulations they study in the classroom affect both the people utilizing the resources and the environment. These experiences demonstrate the importance of understanding how law and policy makers can incorporate sound science into their decision-making. The opportunity to learn from Jody’s experiences as a commercial quahogger and leader in Rhode Island will serve our students well as they start their careers in environmental law and policy," said Julia Wyman, Director of the Marine Affairs Institute.  

Upon their return to the beach, students reaped the rewards of their quahogging quest. They collected more than three dozen quahogs and feasted on them both raw and prepared with King's secret family recipe, which includes garlic, olive oil, and basil.  

The participating students spoke about how the trip was not only fun, but how this experiential learning will benefit their future legal careers.  

Nicholas Celico, a third-year law student who attended the outing, said he hopes in the future to combine his passion for clamming and the Blue Economy. “Jody’s enthusiasm in teaching us and sharing his experiences as a commercial quahogger was infectious, and as a part-time commercial quahogger myself, it really motivates me to use my future legal career to help preserve one of Rhode Island’s most iconic natural resources.”