Top 10 Facebook Posts of 2015

While The New York Times had its "Year in Pictures" and Gizmodo had its "6 Greatest YouTube Reviews of Quiznos Sandwiches of 2015," we decided to compile our own "year in review list" in honor of fast-fading 2015. And what better place to start than our Facebook page—your favorite virtual spot for oohing and ahhing (and maybe the occasional bickering). From manatee sightings to attacks on clean water restoration to polar plunges to rebounding blue crabs to . . . Kevin Bacon (?!), it's been quite a year for CBF on Facebook. So without further ado, we give you our Top 10 Facebook Posts of the Year!

  1. Reaching more than a million people (not to mention momentarily shutting down our website), this Facebook post, which describes Maryland Governor Hogan's attack on Chesapeake restoration, was by far our most popular of the year.

  2. This is a sad day in the long fight to make Maryland waters clean enough for swimming and fishing. Governor Hogan's...

    Posted by Chesapeake Bay Foundation on Thursday, January 22, 2015


  3. Forget Star Wars—oysters are far more interesting than Han Solo! Our favorite bivalve had a leading role in this Facebook video, our second most popular Facebook post of 2015, reaching close to 400,000 people and watched more than 130,000 times. Wow. 

  4. You have to see it to believe it. One adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of murky, polluted water a day. Think of...

    Posted by Chesapeake Bay Foundation on Thursday, April 23, 2015


  5. This inspiring shot of a humpback whale showing off near the Cape Henry entrance of the Bay came in at number three, reaching almost 350,000 admirers.



  6. More humpback whales and the very same photographer Brian Lockwood captured spot number four, reaching more than 300,000 people.

  7. Congratulations to Brian Lockwood, our Viewers' Choice winner in this year's Save the Bay Photo Contest! His image of a...

    Posted by Chesapeake Bay Foundation on Thursday, May 7, 2015


  8. Manatees in the Bay?! Yes, it can happen! And when it does, Facebookers can't seem to get enough. This curious fellow, who popped up in July near the Potomac River, inspired 5,339 likes and 2,010 shares, reaching more than 300,000 people and earning our fifth most popular post of the year.

  9. Is that you Chessie?!

    Posted by Chesapeake Bay Foundation on Wednesday, July 15, 2015


  10. Who said old news is no news? This 2013 story of an ancient ocean discovered underneath the Bay grabbed our sixth spot, reaching more than 200,000 Facebookers.



  11. "A picture is worth a thousand words," and don't we know it in this photo album featuring startlingly clear, beautiful Bay waters from CBF photographer and educator Bill Portlock. These stunning photos captured a vision of what the Bay and its rivers could be permanently if we are to achieve the pollution reductions necessary for healthy, sustainable waters across the region. Learn more about the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint here.

  12. "At times, it's been the clearest some folks like [Tangier Island] Mayor James “Ooker” Eskridge can remember in years."...

    Posted by Chesapeake Bay Foundation on Monday, November 30, 2015


  13. It was a gorgeous, 40-degree December day just perfect for a swim. And that's exactly what a few committed (or maybe crazy) CBFers did to say thank you to those who helped us not only meet but far exceed our #GivingTuesday goal! Our polar plunge video came in at our eighth most popular Facebook post, reaching more than 150,000 people and watched nearly 23,000 times.

  14. AND WE DID IT! Many thanks to all of YOU who helped us meet and far exceed our #GivingTuesday goal! This polar plunge is for you!

    Posted by Chesapeake Bay Foundation on Friday, December 4, 2015


  15. In August, many of you learned about all the things you and Kevin Bacon have in common (namely a shared love of the Bay and its rivers). This video post, which describes said love, came in at our ninth most popular Facebook post of the yearWe know you're just itching to have less than six degrees between you and Kev, so watch it now:

  16. Michael Bacon and Kevin Bacon, of The Bacon Brothers, believe water connects us all, including the 17 million people...

    Posted by Chesapeake Bay Foundation on Tuesday, August 4, 2015


  17. It's been a tough year all around the world, but this Daily Press article about the Bay's rebounding blue crab population gives us hope. Take a look and feel good and light going into the New Year. 

For those of you who made it all the way through our Top 10, congratulations! And make sure to follow us on Facebook (if you aren’t already) for the latest and greatest in 2016 . . .

—Emmy Nicklin
CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media

 


Happy Holidays!


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The dawning of the New Year is a time to focus on our goals with renewed energy and resolve. At the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, we look toward 2016 as a time to work even more vigilantly for healthy rivers, clean streams, and a restored Chesapeake Bay.

Since 1967, CBF has been the leader in environmental education, advocacy, litigation, and restoration in the Chesapeake Bay region. More than 200,000 members strong, CBF is the nation's largest independent conservation organization working on behalf of the health and productivity of our national treasure—the Chesapeake Bay—and its rivers and streams.  

We never could have come so far or accomplished so much over the years without your dedication, passion, and generosity. Thank you for all that you do to support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint and to Save the Bay—we look forward to continuing our work with you in the New Year.

—Chesapeake Bay Foundation

We know that you share our love of the Bay and its rivers and streams and thought you might enjoy our photo album on Facebook. Though it may not feel much like winter yet, the album features beautiful wintertime scenes, like the one above, from across our watershed. Click here to visit our Facebook page to see our photo album.

 


Burgers and Brews for the Bay: Getting to Know Your Neighborhood Market

 Clagett Cow Panorama

Photo by Kellie Rogers.

Did you know that you can eat your way to a cleaner Chesapeake Bay? That’s right! A few weeks ago, we hosted our first Burgers and Brews for the Bay event at our sustainable Clagett Farm in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Guests gathered on a beautiful fall Sunday to enjoy craft brews and local food while learning about the importance of local, sustainable food and how it reduces our impact on the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams.

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Photo by Emmy Nicklin/CBF Staff.

One event attendee recalled that she felt she had "stepped into a different world," surrounded by organic vegetables, herbs, and grass-fed animals. Clagett was the ideal location for the premier of this event as the farm demonstrates how agriculture can be made both profitable and sustainable.

Notable chefs traveled to the farm to feature grass-fed beef (provided by Clagett Farm Manager Michael Heller) in their own interpretations of gourmet sliders. Six food stations, each paired with a local craft brew, presented those sliders and other fresh ingredients like grass-fed lamb, organic herbs, and vegetables, all produced at the farm.

Today many people believe that we could not feed the world's growing population if every farmer were to switch to sustainable farming practices. But that simply isn't true. A research team from the Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC) group stated that contrary to popular belief, the global industrial food system uses 70 percent of the agricultural resources while producing a mere 30 percent of the world's food.

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Photo by Emmy Nicklin/CBF Staff.

In contrast, what the ETC group calls "peasant food systems" (or food from local, sustainable farming) are responsible for 70 percent of the world's food with access to only 30 percent of the agricultural resources.

What's more, through more local, sustainable farming practices, the consumer is able to have a better, more personal connection with their farmer and their food. 

Burgers and Brews not only helped educate and connect event participants with their own "neighborhood market," it also highlighted the fantastic work of various, regional programs through educational tables set up around the farm throughout the day:

  • Capital Area Food Bank is the largest organization in the Washington metro area working to solve hunger and its companion problems. The food bank works with our Clagett Farm CSA to deliver fresh organic produce to communities in D.C. with otherwise limited access.
  • Future Harvest Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture (CASA) supports local and sustainable food through existing and prospective farmers. Future Harvest CASA shared their mission to provide education, networking, and advocacy to help build a sustainable Chesapeake foodshed.
  • Attendees could also learn about local and sustainable farming opportunities through our Maryland Grazers Network. The Network, started by Farm Manager Michael Heller, is a farmer-to-farmer mentoring program that pairs experienced livestock, dairy, sheep, and poultry producers with farmers who want to pilot or switch to rotational grazing practices. Grazers Network mentors spoke with visitors who were interested in the benefits of grass-fed products not only for their own health but for the health of the animals and the environment.
  • The Chesapeake Chapter of the Buy Fresh, Buy Local Campaign, which CBF coordinates, was on hand to promote local and sustainable food sources for the betterment of the community, economy, and the environment. The Chapter's Eater's Guide to Local Food in Maryland is a resource, which includes a directory of sustainable farms, locally sourced markets, CSAs, craft breweries, and farm-to-table restaurants.
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Photo by Emmy Nicklin/CBF Staff.

Throughout the day at the farm, guests also enjoyed live music by local bluegrass band Fiery Deep. Clagett farm staff set farm equipment out on display nearby, while tractors pulled wagons for hay rides around the property. The six food stations featured Maryland, D.C., Delaware, and Virginia brews including Bold Rock Hard Cider, DC Brau Brewing, Devil's Backbone, Dogfish Head, Fordham & Dominion, and Mully's Brewery. The delicious food menu included items like the "Fire It Up" beef slider topped with spiced tomato sauce and fresh pesto, Moroccan ground lamb sliders with roasted garlic and tomato jam, and a pastrami and Swiss slider with local sauerkraut. Other farm staff cooked fresh homemade vegetarian and meat pizzas in the farm's clay oven. Children and adults sipped on local root beer floats in the main tent where rain barrels and Clagett's grass-fed meat were offered as raffle prizes. Next to the main tent, our Education Program entertained kids climbing on hay bales, painting pumpkins, and printing fish on T-shirts.

Most importantly, event participants learned of the health benefits of grass-fed meats, the major sources of agricultural pollution to our waters, and ways that farms can become more sustainable. Attendees returned to their own neighborhoods later that day, full from a day packed with fresh, local food, craft brews, and learning opportunities that offered insights into delicious ways to help Save the Bay.

—Kellie Rogers

Check out our Facebook Photo Album for more photos of this fantastic and educational day on the farm!

 

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Photo by Emmy Nicklin/CBF Staff.

Running for the Bay

ATB10K_MarketingPhotos-163 (2)Photo courtesy of Swim Bike Run Photography.

In just a few weeks, 25,000 people from across the country will participate in a historic event—the second annual Across the Bay 10K Chesapeake Bay Bridge Run!

Scheduled for November 8, the run begins on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and finishes with a post-race celebration on Kent Island. Most of the course—4.35 miles—will be on the bridge itself overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. The dual-span bridge doesn't allow pedestrian traffic at any other time of the year, so this is a unique opportunity–and the view is amazing!

You can be part of the fun and support CBF! As an official charity partner, we have a supply of charity bibs available for $150 which gets you a guaranteed entry into the race and provides a donation to CBF. Click here to find out how to get your charity bib! 

Running not your thing? Sign up to be a volunteer! This race is going to be BIG, so we will need lots of help to ensure it's a success.

As a charity partner, CBF is responsible for recruiting hundreds of volunteers. Positions are available at the Race Expo on Friday and Saturday as well as on the morning of the race. All volunteers will get a long-sleeved T-shirt to wear for their shift and keep as a thank you! You'll also get a sack lunch to keep you energized.

When you sign up to volunteer, make sure to say that CBF referred you.

Thanks for your support–we hope to see you there!

—Melanie McCarty
CBF 's Donor Communications Manager


"Veterans on the Susquehanna" Event Honors Heroes and Local Waterways

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U.S. Marine Corps veteran Daniel Graff and his son, DJ, paddle the Susquehanna River, under the watchful eye of Joe Pegnetter of "Heroes on the Water" at Shank's Mare Outfitters in Wrightsville, Pennsylvania. Daniel and his family joined other veterans and their families at our first-ever "Veterans on the Susquehanna" event. Guests were treated to kayaking, fishing, fly-fishing casting lessons, live music, dinner, and refreshments. Photo by B.J. Small/CBF Staff.

Veterans and their families enjoyed a day of paddling and fishing, food, and live music at the first-ever "Veterans on the Susquehanna" event in Wrightsville, York County, on Saturday, Aug. 29. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Heroes on the Water–Central Pennsylvania Chapter, and the Cumberland Valley and Muddy Creek chapters of Trout Unlimited joined forces to host the day.

Shank's Mare Outfitters, along the Susquehanna River, was the ideal setting to honor the sacrifices made by veterans, to spend the afternoon on the water, and to appreciate why clean water counts in York County and across the Commonwealth.

Our "Clean Water Counts: York" campaign is underway in York County. Its goal is to make residents aware of local water quality issues and solutions, and to build and motivate advocacy to reduce water pollution in the county and across the Commonwealth. There are 19,000 miles of impaired waterways across Pennsylvania; 350 miles are in York County.

"The iconic waterways flowing through York County's diverse community are a part of the local way of life," said CBF's Pennsylvania Outreach and Advocacy Manager Amanda John. "'Clean water counts: York' is bringing together individuals, businesses, and organizations from around the county to make sure elected officials are made aware of pollution protections those waterways need."

York County commissioners Doug Hoke and Chris Reilly attended the event.

Vets1
Cumberland Valley Trout Unlimited volunteers Andrew Kimsey, left, and Alan Howe offer fly-casting lessons to Sue Farrell of Mt. Wolf, at Shank's Mare Outfitters in Wrightsville. Photo by B.J. Small/CBF Staff.

Veterans and their families paddled the Susquehanna and fished under the watchful eyes of guides from Heroes on the Water. Heroes on the Water, many of them veterans themselves, also provided kayaks and fishing gear.

U.S. Army veteran Francine Praught of Lancaster was all smiles as she paddled out onto the Susquehanna. Praught admitted to catching more grasses than fish, and that getting out and enjoying time on the river was the ultimate goal of her day.

Air Force veterans Daniel Schaan of Washington, D.C., and Sarah Shaffer of Etters, shared the Susquehanna experience in a tandem kayak. Marines Corps veteran Daniel Graff of York and his son, "DJ," were guided on the water by Joe Pegnetter. Graff and his son later added fly-casting lessons to their experience.

Muddy Creek Trout Unlimited volunteers Chris Haag, Kelly Warren, Andrew Kimsey, and Alan Howe of Cumberland Valley Trout Unlimited, helped guests get into the swing of things, by sharing fly-casting techniques with all who wanted to learn them. Joe Myers of Wrightsville and Sue Ferrell of Mt. Wolf attended the event for the fly-casting instructions alone. Myers had recently gotten a fly rod and was anxious to learn how to use it.

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U.S. Army veteran Francine Praught of Lancaster, enjoys her time kayaking on the Susquehanna River. Photo by B.J. Small/CBF Staff.

Not able to attend in person, U.S. Senator Pat Toomey sent his best wishes in a letter recognizing participants and organizers. "For nearly two and a half centuries, Americans have selflessly risen to answer the call of freedom," Senator Pat Toomey said. "From Lexington and Concord, to Gettysburg, Normandy, Korea, Vietnam, and most recently Afghanistan and Iraq; American soldiers have gone to the ends of the earth to fight oppression and tyranny, and to uphold the cause of freedom. Many brave Americans have paid the ultimate sacrifice for defending our freedoms and never returned home to see their families."

Senator Toomey added that, "It is fitting that we gather together on occasions like these to express our gratitude for all that our armed service members, current and past, have done to protect our way of life and keep our nation free."

"We're thrilled to partner with Heroes on the Water and local Trout Unlimited chapters and to see nearly 100 local veterans and supporters gain so much from their experiences on and around the water," CBF's John added. "We look forward to hosting a second annual 'Veterans on the Susquehanna' in 2016 to honor and celebrate the sacrifice and bravery of even more of these local heroes."

— B.J. Small, CBF's Pennsylvania Media and Communications Coordinator


Six Ways to Celebrate the Last Gasp of Summer

SeanPelan_Kidswithnets_695There are only a few weeks left to soak up every last inch of summer, and we're here to help you do just that . . . Chesapeake style. While opportunities are endless when talking summer on the Bay, we know that unfortunate thing called "time" can be limiting. That's why we've compiled this quick list of last-minute summer musts:  

  1. Call it vanity, call it confidence, call it your love for the Bay . . . we want to see your #BaySelfie! Send us a selfie next time you're out enjoying these final summer days on the Bay and its rivers.
  2. Work on your tan while shaking shell at our Oyster Restoration Center, or talking clean water restoration at our booth at Norfolk's RIVERFest, or planting shrubs and wetland grasses along the Patuxent River. We don't care how, just get outside with us! Sign up to volunteer.
  3. There's still time to pick up that book you've been meaning to finish. Or if you're looking for a good Labor Day weekend read, check out this list of recs from notable CBFers.
  4. A particularly steamy day on the Bay? Take a break under the shade of a tree and watch Will Baker's inspiring TEDxTalk from your phone about the three little words that changed his life (and maybe yours, too).
  5. OK, this one you can (and should) do all throughout the year. Commit to saving the Bay and its rivers and streams by signing our Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint pledge. It's our best chance for a healthy Bay, economy, and quality of life. 
  6. Find a dock on the Bay or a cool bank along a river. Sit down, lean back, breathe in, stare out. 

Emmy Nicklin
CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media


L’Hermione Returns to the Chesapeake

New2Annapolis City Dock can be an eerily empty place at dawn. But that was hardly the case last Thursday when a French frigate readied to sail north. A replica of the 18th-century, square-rigged vessel that carried Revolutionary War Hero Marquis de Lafayette to the Americas 235 years ago, L'Hermione is the largest and most authentically built tall ship in the last century. And she is currently (June 6-July 15) touring 12 iconic Revolutionary War ports from Yorktown, Virginia, to Castine, Maine. The voyage, which originated in Rochefort, France, celebrates the extraordinary French-American bond and Lafayette's indomitable spirit of adventure (as exemplified in his motto: "Cur Non" or "Why not").

Roughly 10 months before I found myself on City Dock that morning, my sister, who has the unfortunate burden of living in Paris, City of Light, with her French husband and two young daughters, stood along the shores of Île d'Aix to bear witness to the historic moment when L'Hermione sailed for the first time. The ship that took 17 years to build uses the same materials and techniques (such as oak timbers, linen sails, and hemp lines) that were available in the 18th century. And she's gorgeous—155 feet high, 217 feet long, drawing 16 feet, powered by 17 sails and two electric propulsion engines (connected to diesel generators), and intricately detailed with yellow trim and ornate carvings.

 

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The Marquis de Lafayette's Chesapeake route in 1781.

L'Hermione as Science Lab
Not only does L'Hermione serve as a history lesson, she also serves as science lab and research vessel. Throughout the ship's Atlantic crossing, the Director of Maritime Operations for the Friends of Hermione-Lafayette in America Marc Jensen worked with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its global counterpart, the Joint Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM), to deploy a series of 11 climate buoys (one of which he placed about 100 miles from the mouth of the Chesapeake).

These buoys join a network of hundreds of others that collect and transmit data like water temperature, barometric pressure, position, and salinity back to the Global Drifter Program website. "There's no doubt that we as human beings are having a huge impact," says Jensen. "The trade winds are farther south than they are normally; we had our first tropical storm May 7 instead of June 1." This network of buoys provides the critical information needed to study the long-term trends and possible effects we're having on our oceans and weather patterns. While crossing, Jensen and his team also collected 13 water samples to be tested for levels of microplastics with Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation. The results are forthcoming.

In addition to better understanding our environment and the ways that we can protect and restore it, Jensen has other aspirations for what this L'Hermione voyage can teach us: "I certainly hope that when people walk aboard the ship [they realize that] the reason this is all happening is that a young man convinced his king to support a revolution. [He had] the understanding that an individual's freedom is a right that you're born with . . . We can't ever underestimate the power of what young people can do once they set their mind to something."

 

IMG_0735Lafayette and the Chesapeake
What would Lafayette have eaten on his voyages in the Chesapeake? That's what CBF's Senior Naturalist (and all-around Bay/History/Life Expert in my mind) John Page Williams and I find ourselves discussing the day that L'Hermione leaves Annapolis.

"It was a different Bay, for sure, back then," Williams says as he waxes poetic about the spot, croaker, sheepshead, American shad, salt herring, and rockfish (some averaging 60 pounds!) that swam thick and healthy across the Bay and its rivers in Lafayette's time. Not to mention the massive, vertical oyster reefs that grew so abundantly in the Chesapeake that they posed navigational hazards to passing ships.

"Our ability to alter the system was much lower [back then]—we didn't have the tools to do it," says Williams referring to trawl nets, dredging, and clear-cutting machinery. "The worst damage we did came in the last 180 years," Williams continues, "[when we were] beating up the land without realizing it during the Industrial Revolution and the 20th Century." The numbers speak for themselves. Since Lafayette's time, we have lost:

  • more than 40 percent of our forested buffers that once grew deep and undisturbed across 110,000 miles of rivers and streams and that filtered and cleaned our water;
  • roughly 80 percent of our underwater grasses that once flourished across 400,000 acres, sheltering sea horses, juvenile fish, blue crabs, and more;
  • more than 90 percent of our water-filtering oysters.

New"But this is not the way it has to be," Williams insists. Perhaps he, in persistent Lafayette fashion, cannot lose hope that that we can impact powerful, lasting change on the world around us—whether it be the birth of a nation or the rebirth of the Chesapeake.

"We've seen improved sewage treatment bring the Potomac and James Rivers back from the dead," says Williams. "Bald eagles and ospreys rebound; and Atlantic sturgeon begin to spawn again in several of the Chesapeake's rivers. There are still plenty of problems, but improvements like these tell us that the Chesapeake system wants to live, and that with a lot of thought and effort, we can restore more of its riches than any of us has seen in a long time.”

 

"Cur Non"
Back at City Dock on that early morning, as the rain starts to fall and a small crowd of Annapolitans gathers to wish L'Hermione adieu, a strange thing happens. A girl, not so unlike my eldest French-American niece 20 years from now, clambers up the ratlines—why exactly, I can't be sure. She climbs higher and higher, with determination and perseverance, throwing leg over leg, hand over hand, refusing to look down. She climbs high above the heads of her crewmates who serenade us with loud French sea chanties as they leave the dock. And I imagine her still climbing in the distance as the ship passes by the old Naval Academy transmitter towers, where, rumor has it, the D-Day orders were sent across the Atlantic. She keeps climbing as high as she can possibly go because . . . Why Not?

—Text and photos by Emmy Nicklin
CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media

 Sign up to learn more about our Bay, rivers, and streams, and how you can help save them now and for generations to come.

 


The Return of the #BaySelfie

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Today is Memorial Day—the unofficial start of summer! And what better way to celebrate than by sharing your #BaySelfie with us. Last summer, more than 150 people shared their love of the Bay and its rivers and streams through these "selfies." And we couldn't get enough of 'em! 

A happy dog and his owner swimming the mouth of Dividing Creek. Friends camping at Janes Island State Park. A father-daughter duo fishing for white perch on an unusually cool Saturday morning in July. These were just a few of the pics that your fellow water lovers shared with us last summer. 

Now it's your turn! Click here to submit your own #BaySelfie.

These photos of the extraordinary people and places along the waters we all love remind us why we do the work that we do. Our memories of these moments—and those to come—are worth fighting for. And with your help, that's what CBF is doing every day. 

Now get out there and enjoy it . . . 

—Emmy Nicklin
CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media


Floating Classrooms Foster Love of Nature

The following first appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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CBF's 42-foot, Coast Guard-inspected boat, "Baywatcher"

Many RVA residents have become spoiled by living near the James River and its wonderful amenities: stunning vistas, fishing, paddling, swimming, hiking, birding, and wildlife watching.

But imagine if the closest you ever got to the James was in a car driving over a Richmond bridge. What if you'd never dipped a toe in the river, cast a line to fish, or rock-hopped across the rapids to picnic or sunbathe? What if you'd never seen a great blue heron stalking the riverbank or touched the whiskers on a blue catfish? What if you'd never, ever seen a bald eagle soaring over the James?

Believe it or not, thousands of Richmond-area youngsters have never had such experiences. They are among a growing number of children suffering from nature deficit disorder, a term coined by Richard Louv, author of the 2005 book Last Child in the Woods. It refers to a near-total unfamiliarity with the outdoors caused by a preoccupation with indoor electronic devices — televisions, computers, cellphones, electronic games and other gadgets. On average, kids 8 to 18 years old spend more than 7.5 hours a day using entertainment media, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. That's more than 50 hours a week.

Fortunately, a beautiful natural world still awaits anyone willing to disconnect from electronic gizmos and venture outdoors. And this year, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation celebrates 30 years of unplugging Richmond-area students and taking them outside onto the James to explore nature and the river.

Since CBF launched its James River Education Boat Program in 1985, some 55,000 students have participated in these hands-on, get-wet-and-dirty environmental education experiences. The kids board Baywatcher, a 42-foot, Coast Guard-inspected boat and one of CBF's many "floating classroom" vessels, and spend three to six hours on the water. There they read maps, identify landmarks, note shoreline land uses, take water samples, fish, crab, and ooh and aah at the critters they find.

But the boat trips are more than just fun days on the water. These science-based discovery experiences are led by professional environmental educators who reinforce knowledge and skills in Virginia's Standards of Learning and complement teachers' own classroom studies.

For many students, the CBF field experiences represent the first time they've ever been on a boat. For still others, the trips are watershed experiences that spark a lifelong love of science and nature. Many teachers have confided they were inspired to be science educators by a CBF discovery trip they took as youngsters. For testimonials and more about CBF's outdoor education experiences, go to cbf.org/education.

But environmental education provides other big benefits as well. Studies demonstrate that it:

  • Generally improves student achievement in science, likely because it connects classroom learning to the real world.
  • Improves student interest and engagement in the classroom. Students just seem to like environmental studies, opting to focus science fair and service projects on environmental topics more than any other.
  • Boosts reading, math and social studies achievement when integrated into other school subjects.
  • When used as a common thread in all classes, reduces student discipline problems, increases student enthusiasm, and generates greater pride and ownership in accomplishments.
  • Teaches critical thinking and basic life skills necessary for a 21st-century workforce.

All of which is why CBF encourages the McAuliffe administration and the Virginia General Assembly to make environmental literacy a priority in Virginia. A new Chesapeake Bay Agreement, signed last year by Governor McAuliffe and the other Chesapeake Bay partner states, includes an important environmental literacy goal: "Enable students in the region to graduate with the knowledge and skills to act responsibly to protect and restore their local watershed."

CBF urges the private and public sectors to work together in planning and funding a bold vision for all Virginia students to have the opportunity to become environmentally literate. Armed with this knowledge, Virginia students can become tomorrow's leaders, making sound decisions to restore the Chesapeake Bay and to protect Virginia's precious natural resources.

Still, it's hard to imagine the commonwealth will achieve these laudable environmental literacy goals unless more kids get outside and experience the wonders of nature. You just have to be there.

So during this Earth Day season, consider taking a young person you know to a park, on a hike, to a lake or stream, or just out into the backyard. Look around. Smell the air. Touch. Explore. You might even see a bald eagle and change a life.

—Ann Jennings, CBF's Virginia Executive Director


Oyster Migration: Fact or Fiction?


ShellyOyster Shelly is on the move! After vacationing in the Caribbean Sea for the winter, she, along with the osprey, have come back home to the Chesapeake. We've been tracking Oysters Shelly, Rocky, and Pearl throughout their migration. Check it out . . .

APRIL FOOLS!!! While we know our favorite Chesapeake critters don't go far, there is actually a period of about three weeks when oyster larvae can indeed move around. As Dr. Elizabeth North, Associate Professor at the Horn Point Laboratory of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science says: 

"Although adult oysters remain fixed in one location, their eggs and larvae spend ~3 weeks as free-swimming plankton in the water column. During this planktonic stage, the young oysters pass through different stages of development, growing from fertilized eggs, to trocophores, to veligers, and finally to pediveligers. The pediveliger stage is the stage at which larvae search for suitable substrate to which they cement themselves, leaving the water column and becoming fixed on the bottom. This "settlement" of the larvae signals the end of the larval dispersal stage and the beginning of the juvenile stage. A suite of physical and biological factors influence larval dispersal and subsequent oyster larvae settlement. Circulation patterns are controlled by tides as well as freshwater flow and wind which can change between years, months, weeks and even days. These patterns, and differences in larval behavior, influence the direction and distance that larvae could be transported and the location where they ultimately settle.

"To predict oyster larval dispersal, we used two numerical models (i.e., computer simulations): a particle-tracking model and a three-dimensional hydrodynamic model of Chesapeake Bay. The coupled bio-physical modeling system has the ability to move particles due to currents velocities and turbulent mixing, and includes algorithms that give the particles "oyster larvae-like" behaviors. We use circulation predictions from five years in order to capture a range of physical conditions that likely influence larval dispersal. In addition, we used the best estimate of suitable present-day oyster habitat (oyster bars) and information from laboratory studies on larval behavior."

Visit Dr. North’s website to see her model of oyster larvae distribution in wet, average, and dry years. Note that she developed these animations seven years ago, when Maryland and Virginia were wrestling with the question of whether to introduce a non-native Asian oyster to the Chesapeake. Dr. North's research played a valuable role in the decision to concentrate restoration efforts on our native Eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica. Thus the Eastern Oyster Animations are the only ones that apply to our Bay today. Remember that female oysters spawn huge numbers of eggs, and that larger oysters, clumped together, send out exponentially larger numbers. Mortality is high, but the more we concentrate their numbers, the faster the stocks increase.

The good news in these simulations is that they give us a flavor of how resilient our oyster can be if we understand its behavior and habitat needs as a species. With intelligent restoration efforts, we can once again rely on its reefs for natural water filtration, rich fish/crab habitat, and succulent seafood. 

John Page Williams, CBF’s Senior Naturalist

Wanna see some real migration? Check out our osprey tracking project! Now those birds travel far—some from as far away as South America!