Student Leaders Take Their Clean Water Message to the Hill!

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Members of CBF's PA Student Leadership Program met with U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey Jr., of Pennsylvania at his office in Washington, D.C. in December. Pictured above are (from left to right): Allison Markel, Anna Pauletta, Senator Casey, Mallory Taramelle-Dickinson, Abby Hebenton, and Maria Seitz.

Five members of our new Student Leadership Program in Pennsylvania spoke with U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey Jr., of Pennsylvania last month, about the importance of clean water in the Commonwealth. 

"The general message I wanted to leave with the senator was that people really do care about clean water and agriculture in Pennsylvania, and we so badly want to see positive change," Fairfield High School student Abby Hebenton said. "What we do in Pennsylvania affects everyone downstream, not just Pennsylvanians. We are so behind compared to other states, things are really going to have to change as far as laws and regulations go, in order to change how citizens think and act in regards to water and environmental conservation."

"We chatted with Claire Borzner, Senator Casey's legislative correspondent, who was very friendly and interested in listening to our thoughts on the senator's work, and answered any questions we had," Hebenton added. "Surprisingly, few people actually reach out to the senator with issues they think should be addressed, although Ms. Borzner informed us that she and her colleagues read every letter or e-mail that go through their office." 

"We wanted to make the senator aware of the struggles and successes of the Chesapeake Bay," said Allison Markel of Cedar Cliff High School. "In D.C., we were able to serve as passionate witnesses for the Bay's significance in Pennsylvania."

The Student Leadership Program is open to all high school students and is designed to give them a voice and an active role in the fight for clean water in Pennsylvania. The Student Leadership Council will meet throughout the year through video-conferencing and will plan and coordinate advocacy and restoration activities throughout the Bay watershed in Pennsylvania.

"I thought that it would be a really amazing opportunity to meet with someone in authority who has the power to make positive changes regarding something I am very passionate about," Hebenton said. "I was just looking forward to getting to see the political side of environmental issues and hopefully networking with some important people who have the power to make change."

Cumberland Valley High School student Maria Seitz added: "I always really value the chance to meet and speak with Senator Casey because I know it's not something that a lot of people get to do . . . just by being there we were letting him know that young people from Pennsylvania are concerned about the water quality problems Pennsylvania is facing."

Other parts of the visit made lasting impressions on the students, including speaking with CBF's Federal Policy Director Alix Murdoch and touring the Capitol. "I will never forget the experience of sitting in on the Senate," Seitz said. "That was really cool! A great experience that I wish more people could have."

Cumberland Valley High School students Anna Pauletta and Mallory Taramelle-Dickinson also made the trip to Washington, D.C. to visit with Senator Casey.

"As a student team, we are working toward a healthier Bay and to ensure a better future for our loved ones," Markel added. "I hope the senator was moved by our desire to stand up for something bigger than ourselves." 

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

Interested in learning more about CBF's Student Leadership Program in Pennsylvania? Contact program coordinator Lane Whigham at


Gardening and the Bay: A Future in the Making

Lindsay Bushong, a junior at Drexel University, shares her story of encountering a love for gardening, and the role CBF played along the way.

Some of the Backyard Beds in Philadelphia, PA

In high school, I took a half day field trip with CBF. I had a blast and when they talked about the summer programs they offered, I knew I had to go. Fast forward a year and I'm two days into a week long adventure down the James River in Virginia. We did various things to learn about the Bay, digging in the detritus, not leaving any trace at our campsites, going to leadership workshops. However, what I remember most is our visit first to a large organic farm, and then to a smaller, urban garden in Richmond. I grew up in a really rural community, but had never seen an organic garden to the scale of the one we visiting in Virginia. There was a beautiful rainwater catchment system and rows upon rows of lush, gorgeous veggies. In the city, we learned about the benefits of having nature in an urban setting, how its good for both people and the environment. While I didn't realize it then, the idea of the "triple bottom line benefit" would follow me to Philadelphia.

I recently began my own social entrepreneurship project, Backyard Beds. Backyard Beds came into fruition for a number of reasons. Having moved to the city from an agricultural community, I was astounded at the lack of fresh food in my neighborhood. Through my academic studies I began to learn about food deserts and food insecurity, which really sparked my interest. My freshman year I worked on an urban farm, and this experience seemed tie together all my passions into one amazing social venture. Through professors, mentors and classmates, I soon found myself managing a small garden only a few blocks from my house at The Dornsife Center. While gardening there, I got to meet a lot of amazing people, but most importantly, I got to meet Mantua (my neighborhood) area residents. These are long-term residents. One afternoon a neighbor was asking how she could build her own raised garden beds, I immediately offered to help, and thus Backyard Beds was born from this interaction.

Harvested radishes from backyard beds

Our seed funding came from a fellowship with The Resolution Project, an amazing organization helping young people start really cool projects around the world. In the summer of 2013 we built five gardens for five families. Not only are these gardens beautiful and relaxing, but they provide practically free fresh, local produce. Something most Mantua area residents lack. The gardens also decrease stormwater runoff and the heat island effect. We hope to create a small food distribution competent to the project that helps move the food more efficiently around the neighborhood.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has been pivotal in my growth and development. I would have never discovered my passion and interests without my experiences in and around the Bay. This project has brought my studies and experiences full circle, giving me the opportunity to create real, meaningful change. In high school, after I got back from I trip I knew I wanted to start a little organic garden. CBF helped me do this, leading to me earning a Certificate of Environmental Leadership. The ways in which CBF facilitate and support students are incredible, and I wish every student could take advantage of the opportunities they have to offer.

A Student's Take on the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint

What is the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint? A video I recently helped produce with my school's green club, ECO Sherwood at Sherwood High School, working alongside the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Student Leadership program, helps answer that very question:

The Blueprint is a process that coordinates Washington, D.C. and the six states of the Chesapeake Watershed to clean up their pollution to the Bay by 2025. Our video describes the Blueprint and maps out simple things that  students, parents, teachers, or anyone can do in their daily lives to lessen pollution into our beloved Bay. To make the concepts pop, we chose to use a dry-erase whiteboard to display images in a fun way. We also filmed some projects that our club had done, to illustrate more vividly actions that others can take.

This project meant the world to me, as it should since I am a proud resident of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed! I treasure the Bay and all its wonderful resources, and I hope the video can make a difference. All the hard work was well worth the outcome, for now thousands (hopefully) of people will view this video and make some small change to help our Bay.

CBF has always been a part of my life. My mom is a naturalist and loved taking me out with her on many CBF sponsored field trips. I have also been on overnight trips to island education centers, as well as day trips on the Skipjack Stanley Norman, canoes, or boating over oyster restoration projects! CBF has helped open my eyes to the beauty of our Bay and the efforts we can take as citizens to help keep the Chesapeake a marvel for many generations to come.

I hope not just Maryland residents view this video, but citizens from every state in the watershed, and collectively they make a change in their daily routine. While many people think that one small change will have no impact on the Chesapeake's health, but in reality, that is complete crazy talk! Any small change can make a huge impact, because think about it: If every student turned the faucet off while brushing their teeth or washing their hands, it could add up to a lot of water conserved.

The video is imperative for the Bay's health because it promotes the changes we all can make towards helping the Bay, and highlights the efforts our government leaders are also supposed to be taking in order to clean the Bay by 2025. Ultimately, I hope that after viewing the video, people start to see that they can make a difference every day to help save the Bay.

—Hayley Mazur, Class of 2015, Sherwood High School

Share this video with friends and family. We need everyone to know and fight for the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint!

Running to Save the Bay!

DSC_0077Photos by Jeff Rogge/CBF Staff.  

Nearly 15,000 people ran across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on Sunday, Nov. 9, a stream of fit humanity in colorful tech attire arching over the Bay flowing beneath. All deserve praise for participating in the 10k, but one runner in particular, one speck of color out in front of that stream, deserves special mention.

On Saturday, cross country star Shreya Nalubola ran the final race of her illustrious high school career on what has been described as the toughest course in the state. The meet was the Maryland Girls State Cross Country Championship at Hereford High School. She came in third.

Rather than sleep in on Sunday, however, Shreya pulled herself out of bed, and ran the Across the Bay 10k Chesapeake Bay Bridge Race. No easy course itself, the bridge features a two-mile incline. Shreya came in first place in her age group, and 11th overall of 9,662 women runners!

DSC_0084Shreya, a senior at Centennial High School in Howard County, didn't do the Bridge Race just for more exercise, or the spectacular view. She is a student advocate for the Chesapeake Bay. She wanted to do her part to promote the national treasure and to underscore its endangered health.

"In sixth grade, I attended a field trip with my classmates to the Chesapeake Bay, where we were able to experience and study it in-depth. The field trip made an impact on my young mind as we fished for crabs and oysters, convincing me of the importance of preserving the health of our ecosystem," Shreya said.

This past spring Shreya also spent time on the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's skipjack Stanley Norman where she learned more about the human impact to the Bay's health. She decided to join CBF's Student Wave Leadership program.

Two other students chose to run in Sunday's race across the iconic bridge from Annapolis to Kent Island as part of their commitment to advocacy. Charlotte Waldman and Garrett Weintrob, both 10th graders at the Maret School in Washington, D.C., help support CBF's Oyster Restoration Center in Shady Side, MD, among many other activities.  

"I hope that events such as the Across the Bay 10k will continue to raise awareness about the problems that affect the watershed, including pollution, agricultural development, and deforestation. In the future, perhaps changes can be made and efforts can be put into reducing pollution and restoring forest buffers in order to better support and protect the Chesapeake," Shreya said.

Thanks Shreya, Charlotte, and Garrett! The future of the Bay is in your hands—and running shoes. 

—Tom Zolper, CBF's Maryland Communications Coordinator

Bay Blood


Jacqueline Stomski dreaming of the Bay from far away!

Some kids around here grow up with the Bay in their veins: Boating from Memorial Day to Labor Day; crabbing, fishing, swimming, and tubing all summer long. Their parents grew up here, too—they loved this piece of the world so much that they just couldn't leave.

The Bay might not be the ocean, but it might be something better. It captivates anyone who comes to see it with the mighty trials and tribulations of this delicate ecosystem. A place so rich in history, and we are fortunate enough to call it home.

I've lived here my whole life, but I don't think I can say I quite have Bay Blood. I've never spent my summers on my family's boat, my crabbing experience is limited, in fact I've never picked my own crabs. What I can say though is that whenever I am gone, I miss this sliver of the world desperately.

The first time I felt connected to the Bay was on my first school trip to Echo Hill in elementary school. We collected aquatic organisms to survey the different populations living where the Susquehanna meets the Bay. For the first time, I was on the Bay, in the sun, and I loved it.

At Echo Hill they told us of how when John Smith sailed the Chesapeake, the water was blue and he could see the oysters on the bottom. Looking at the murky waters today, I still struggle to believe that. From that day forward I've dreamed of a blue Bay. 

Jacqueline Stomski, Senior at Annapolis High School and CBF Student Correspondent Spring 2014 

Interested in becoming a student correspondent, documenting life on the Bay and its rivers and streams? Click here to learn more.

Junior Girl Scouts Defend Bay Cleanup!


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CBF President Will Baker speaking with the Girl Scouts of Troop 10324.

Melek is ten-years-old. She wears binoculars around her neck throughout much of the summer and is fascinated by her neighbors. They are: a fox family, egrets, a bald eagle, herons, and ospreys, to name just a few.

You'll often find Melek on the pier at her grandparent's home in Sparrows Point. It juts out into Jones Creek. Melek caught her first sunfish off that pier when she was 18-months-old with a toy rod. These days she fishes and crabs with her grandfather, who also has taught her to hunt and shoot.

Melek's hands-on experiences on the Bay might partially explain her recent remarkable feat. She helped lead her Girl Scout troop into battle with 21 attorneys general around the country who want to stop the cleanup of the Bay.

Girl Scout Junior Troop 10324 from the Sparrows Point and Dundalk areas of Baltimore County was outraged that the attorney generals from states as far away as Alaska, Kansas, and Texas joined the American Farm Bureau Federation and the Fertilizer Institute to block the cleanup of the Chesapeake. So the girls decided to write each of the officials a letter of objection.

The girls had worked on various Bay restoration projects since they were Brownies. Like Melek, several of the girls grew up around the water. They believe their Girl Scout Promise compels them to work to preserve their treasured Chesapeake. But they became full-blown Bay advocates when they learned the attorneys general were joining the Farm Bureau's court battle.

Patricia George, Melek's grandmother and the scout troop leader, said people are astonished that these elementary school girls were able to research the whole issue and then took action with virtually no help from adults. The girls spent about 20 hours and four meetings and countless phone calls and e-mails to carefully draft the letters to the 21 attorneys general.

"What people don't understand is how 10-year-olds can do this," George said. 

Girl Scout Clara interjected with an even better question: "If we get it, why don’t these politicians get it?"

The girls' efforts started an "avalanche," George said. Other girls now want to join the troop and the campaign. A steady stream of parents from local elementary schools have called George to ask how they and their children can get involved.

As a token of thanks for the troop's committment to Bay restoration, CBF President Will Baker this week gave each of the girls a framed certificate thanking them for their extraordinary efforts.

"We are just so grateful. You are an inspiration to those of us who work on this every day," Baker said.

Even Maryland Governor O'Malley wrote a letter to the troop: "Thank you for your interest in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. I am impressed by your activism and outreach efforts. The involvement of citizens like you is critical to the success of the Bay's restoration."

For Girl Scouts Melek, Megan, Clara, Alyssa, Ariyanna, Kaitlyn, Brianna, and Annabelle, the fight isn't over.

Already Melek has designed a Girl Scouts badge for each member of the troop with the words "Chesapeake Bay Restoration Advocate" and a picture of the Bay, a heron, and blue crab.

As Will Baker said to the girls that sunny Wednesday afternoon, "Don't ever lose your determination to make the world a better place." We couldn't agree more.

—Tom Zolper, CBF Maryland Communications Coordinator

Stand up for the Bay and its rivers and streams like these inspiring Girl Scouts! Sign our petition.

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Every scout received a plaque from CBF President Will Baker.


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The badge that Melek designed!


The Girl Scouts got outside with CBF Educator Jocelyn. Here, one of the scouts learns how to seine for critters!
Examining the catch!



Learning about oysters and how they help clean the Bay's waters!

 Photos by Jen Wallace, Drew Robinson/CBF Staff.

Somewhere Between the Sky and the Water

Photo1Annie Prevas, a rising senior at Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore City, visited CBF's Karen Noonan Center with her class in November 2013. Take a look at this vivid, Thoreau-like piece she wrote about her visit.

Our group was pulled from their slumber this morning to watch the Bay come alive as the sun rose. Through the bayberry bushes and across the beach from the house was an old wooden dock. From the dock you could see miles in all directions. The wetlands continued to the north, with soggy grasses swaying as the shallow muck glistened. Small birds swooped up and down over the reeds, looking for food. To the south was the water, flickering with oranges and reds, with islands of Bay mush and tall grasses waving good morning from miles away. To the west were several osprey nests high above our heads.

The waterfowl looked down at us with warning yellow eyes, telling us to care for the land and Bay they call home. We were surrounded by life, but our focus right then, was on the rising sun, welcoming us to the new day with vibrant colors and warmth. The sun began to peek out from the horizon with its rays reaching to the land, giving life. The small slice of the round sun grew taller, until the shadow across the bottom of our sun became evident. The partial solar eclipse was hardly noticeable to most of the world, but we didn't avert our burning eyes once.

Annie and her friends during their recent trip to CBF’s Karen Noonan Center.

I felt myself living so intensely in this moment. My face was tingling from the slight chill of the November air, and the salty wind blew my hair wildly around my face. I watched  the sun and felt my breath and heart work together to keep me alive. I was somewhere between the sky and the water, watching the light come in, and my appreciation for their roles in keeping the world alive made my heart smile. 

Then, my whole body smiled at the crescent sun. It smiled back by sprinkling pinks and oranges across my face. The dock faded out of my consciousness and became a hammock of wind enveloping me keeping me afloat in a place above the water and below the sky, where I was doing nothing but existing. I was just existing, though it seemed, I was existing more completely than I had before in my life. The sun came up, and the Bay was awake.

Annie Prevas

Interested in becoming a student correspondent, documenting life on the Bay and its rivers and streams? Click here to learn more.

Shady Side Elementary School Students Take a Stand for the Bay


Shady Side students planting oysters in the West River. Photo courtesy of Shady Side Elementary

The students at Shady Side Elementary School in southern Anne Arundel County, Maryland are no strangers to the Bay and life on the water. The town of Shady Side is located on a peninsula, surrounded on the north and west by the West River and on the east by the Chesapeake. Many students are children of watermen who still crab, oyster, and fish to make a living. The school sits less than a quarter mile from the water—and CBF's Maryland Oyster Restoration Center.

So, last year, when 5th grade teachers Kimberly McAllister, Molly Tremel, and Jenna Weckel asked their students to "Take a Stand" for a cause, the Bay seemed like the natural choice.

"These students were raised on the water. They're surrounded by it every day and, for many, its health has a direct impact on their lives. The students worked with CBF last year to grow oysters and then planted them in the West River. Meghan Hoffman and the rest of CBF's Maryland Oyster Restoration team really got the kids excited about oysters—and showed them that they can make a difference," said Tremel.

The students were so motivated they wrote letters and hand-delivered them to U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, and U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin urging them to continue funding Bay restoration. But they didn't stop there.

They took it one step further—creating postcards, developing a business plan, and selling the cards to friends, family, and others—to raise money to support the Bay. Their efforts were highly successful. In two years, they've raised nearly $4,000 to help CBF grow and plant more oysters in the Bay!

John Rodenhausen, Maryland Director of Development, was on-hand for this year's check presentation and was able to address the nearly 60 5th graders involved in this project. "As an educator and a fundraiser for CBF, it is moments like this that give me greater confidence that the Chesapeake will be saved, not just in these students' lifetimes, but in mine, too!"

The project has become a staple of the 5th grade experience—and a bit of a competition, too. Weckel explained, "We've already spoken to the incoming class about the project. They're excited and energized by the opportunity to raise more money for CBF than last year's class!"

We all have a role to play in saving the Chesapeake. CBF is grateful to the entire Shady Side Elementary School community, including 5th grade teachers Kimberly McAllister, Molly Tremel, and Jenna Weckel, as well as their students, for their support, ingenuity, and hard work.

Together, we will Save the Bay and its rivers and streams!

Brie Wilson, Donor Communications Manager 

Read more about the Shady Side Elementary School Students' efforts here!

Fourth Graders Work to Reduce Waste

NewAfter participating in CBF's Smith Island Education Program, our school (Chesapeake Public Charter School) realized how much of our food we might be wasting. So, we decided to start monitoring our lunch leftovers. We started small, just sorting the leftovers from 4th graders. Student volunteers, headed up by Smith Island alumna Debra Rosenstadt, began to help their peers sort their leftovers into: Recycling, Compost/Vermicompost, S.L.O.P. ("Stuff Left on Plate"), and landfill. 

Each day, these volunteers stayed in from recess to weigh the amounts of each and graph it on our class line plot (to the nearest ¼ pound). Certainly a dirty job, so look out Mike Rowe! Our S.L.O.P. Cops spread the word on how to reduce waste: saving it for later, snack share (a special bin to leave it in for others to take if wanted), etc.

As a school we have always recycled, composted, and vermi-composted (each grade has their own work bin). But, this school year, we decided to go schoolwide with the S.L.O.P. program as well. Two fourth graders each month volunteered to be S.L.O.P. Cops. They collected, consolidated, and weighed the S.L.O.P. from 331 students, grades K-8. The S.L.O.P. this year was picked up each afternoon by a local organic farmer, Brett Grosghal from Even' Star Farm. He uses the S.L.O.P. to feed his nine hogs and flock of chickens, so our waste was recycled back into food we could eat (a great lesson in where food comes from, especially bacon and eggs!). Chesapeake Public Charter School (CPCS) even has five resident chickens that take in some of our S.L.O.P., just on a smaller scale than the organic farm. CPCS chicken eggs are sold to our school families looking for a local, organic option. As Katelyn Kovach, 4th grader and CBF Smith Island alumna, puts it, "Your S.L.O.P. made my breakfast!"

Our 4th grade S.L.O.P. Cop volunteers learned other skills as well. They used Microsoft Excel to keep track of the data, researched facts about pigs, chickens, landfills, and made daily announcements to share the data and information with our school community. Included in their announcements were "SLOPPY Shout Outs" commending students or classes that did very well with reducing their S.L.O.P. that day.

During the 2012-2013 school year, Chesapeake Public Charter School prevented more than 800 pounds of unused energy in the form of food scraps from going to a landfill and instead helped recycle it into locally grown food.

April Skinner, Fourth Grade Chesapeake Public Charter School Teacher  

Susquehanna Odyssey

CBF's Student Leadership Course Along the Mighty Susquehanna

This week high schoolers are exploring and investigating the Bay’s largest tributary—the great Susquehanna River—with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF). As they paddle through the Susquehanna River Trail visiting rural and urban communities along the way, students will meet experts and use film, photography, journaling, fishing, chemistry, and even plein air painting. These multimedia creations will be used to piece together a diverse study of the regions past, present, and future, leading to a greater understanding of the local watershed. Check out the first few photos of the CBF course below!


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