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Reflections from a Summer Intern

Emma RodvienAs summer intern season begins, we are wistfully thinking about all the inspiring young leaders that have helped us in summers past. Last year we were fortunate enough to have Emma Rodvien come intern with us in CBF's Education Department as part of the William & Mary Teachers for a Competitive Tomorrow Fellowship (TCT). Emma had taken part in many meaningful CBF experiences pior to her internship—from participating in a Karen Noonan Center Field Experience to taking part in several CBF Student Leadership Courses. These experiences led her to pursue education in college and to come back to us again last summer as an intern. Take a peak below at her thoughts on her lastest CBF experience. 


As I prepared myself for this internship, I distilled a set of questions that I hoped to answer during my time as an intern. I applied to the TCT program with the overarching goal of gaining insight into the education field. If learning about environmental education was my organizing question, my supporting questions were as follows: How does outdoor education differ from classroom education? In what ways can the lessons and experiences from outside the classroom be effectively introduced within the classroom? How can I utilize my interests and talentsscience and otherwisefor education purposes? Investigating these questions was a foremost expectation for my internship.

I dove into my internship hoping to learn more about the world of environmental non-profits. Prior to the internship, I was familiar with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation from a student's perspective. Naturally, gaining an "insider's perspective" into CBF as an employee or educator was a true curiosity of mine, one that would allow me to explore the intersections of my interests in communications, social science, and the environment.

Observations from the Field
Perhaps the most meaningful lesson that I learned throughout my internship was how the Bay can intrigue every sense. This concept was certainly embodied in the field experiences of my internship! Each of my senses was heightened in the field, captivated by the life and spirit of the Bay. To focus on just one would be to deny the Bay's influence on another; instead, I will recount Bay memories from the perspective of all five senses:

1. I saw...  The orange sunrise over Port Isobel's eastern marshes, the pink sunset over its western shore, the frantic scattering of fiddler crabs around my feet, the sky severed by lightning bolts, illuminated in a tie-dyed pattern of black and white, the slow and synchronized Clagett cows migrating between fields, the momentary terror that dances across students' faces at first touch of a catfish, the proud smiles when they finally pick one up and hold it.

2. I smelled... The pungent odors of a wastewater treatment plant, the salty smack of Virginia Beach air, the slow and wafting scent of marsh detritus, the sweet smell of blue crabs and the tang of Old Bay seasoning, the earthy air as a storm blows in over Port Isobel.

3. I tasted... Sustainably grown radishes from Clagett Farm, the oily lips of menhaden bait, the bitter sting of brackish water against my tongue, the delicious flakiness of Captain Charles' fried trout.

4. I heard... The comforting cluck of Clagett's chickens, the deafening roar of airplanes and helicopters over the Potomac, the wind meandering its way through marsh grasses, the friendly horns of Tangier's boats, the roll of thunder and the crack of lightning, the subtle "whoooosh" of a blue heron overhead, the bubbling of blue crabs recirculating their water.

5. I touched... The pointy tops of Black Needlerush, the slippery side of a Spot fish, the prickly spikes of a Northern Puffer, the perfect smoothness of Diamondback Terrapin eggs, the blisteringly hot black seat of my canoe, the worn ropes of a trawl net, the bristly hair of Clagett's cows.

—Emma Rodvien

 Ensure that Emma and future generations continue to have these life-changing moments along the Chesapeake. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint! 

Photo of the Week: Osprey Point Sunset

CameraZOOM-20121110165856658Late fall at Osprey Point Marina and Inn in Rock Hall, Maryland. Photo by Paul Bollinger. 

Ensure that Paul and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary sights like these in our watershed. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint! 

Do you have a favorite Bay photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's E-Communications Manager, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign], along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. We look forward to seeing your photos!


Future Generations at Work to Save the Bay!

Dunloggin middle school 044The Chesapeake Bay is saved--if all our children are anything like the students at Dunloggin Middle School.

Or if all our teachers are like Dan Blue and Pam Kidwell.

Not only have these Dunloggin teachers and students worked to restore the eroded banks of the stream near their school in Ellicott City, Maryland, built a wetland nearby to help purify water entering the stream, now they are using a cutting edge problem-solving curriculum to restore oysters in the Chesapeake.

You heard that right.

And the amazing thing is Dunloggin is not really even near the Chesapeake. Ellicott City is a river town on the Patapsco River at least 20 miles from the main stem of the Bay. So you wouldn't think these teachers and students would be so compelled to do something, or actually do so many projects, to save the Bay.

But they are. The latest effort started a year ago when Dunloggin students took their annual spring trip to CBF's Merrill Education Center on the shores of the Chesapeake in Annapolis. CBF educators take about 35,000 students, teachers, and principals a year outside on hands-on, education experiences around the Bay watershed.

But when, as part of the trip last year, Dunloggin students sampled the health of an oyster reef, they found only one live oyster among the shells they pulled up from the bottom! The students were crushed.

"It was really sad to know how much they [oysters] help the Bay, and that we had lost like 90 percent of them," said eighth-grader Katy Montgomery.

When they returned to school, Blue, Kidwell, and the students researched the plight of oysters in the Bay, and discovered that CBF runs an oyster gardening program. CBF staff teach volunteers how to grow baby oysters which then can be added to existing "sanctuary" reefs protected from harvest. The Dunloggin kids joined the program.

And that was no small feat, considering you can't grow oysters in the middle of the Patapsco River. But the owner of Kentmorr Harbor Marina on Kent Island graciously allowed the children to hang their special oyster-growing cages off his pier. Parents agreed to drive their children all the way to Cambridge, Maryland, to pick up oyster larvae from the University of Maryland's Horn Point Laboratory and then take turns chauffeuring the children to and from the marina (about a one-hour drive) all through the fall and winter so the students could care for the growing oysters.

Dunloggin middle school 030This week Dunloggin students returned to the Merrill Center for their annual trip. And they brought with them at least 1,000 baby oysters, each about the size of a dime, clinging to old oyster shells.

Threatening skies did not dampen the enthusiasm and excitement of the children as they playfully bid farewell to their "children" and then gently released handfuls of spat-on-shell over the side of the CBF workboat Marguerite. CBF educator Tiffany Granberg encouraged the students to shout out a wish to the baby oyster as the students tossed them overboard.

"Go to college."

"Marry a nice girl."

"Have more baby oysters."

Just a typical school day for Dunloggin students. The school is a National Green Ribbon School, one of only four in Maryland. And the school's environmental education emphasis is largely the reason for that distinction, Blue said. At Dunloggin learning is active, with real-life experiences used to teach traditional skills. It's never just about building a wetland or restoring a stream or raising oysters; it's about learning science, math, critical thinking, and other skills along the way, he said.

Dunloggin middle school 008As part of the oyster project, Blue worked with a specialist in problem-solving educational curriculum all the way up in Quebec--Claude Poudrier, who helps teachers in Canada and the United States develop curricula. Poudrier flew all the way down from his Canadian home on Thursday to witness the culmination of the oyster project.

"To know is not enough. Children need to know how to be in action," Poudrier said. "When they have fun, they learn, and they are ready to be engaged. When they are engaged they have fun. It's the egg and the chicken."

That pretty much sums up the educational philosophy, which CBF has espoused for decades, and which underlies the organization's No Child Left Inside efforts in Maryland and nationally: That at the heart of true learning are interactive, hands-on, meaningful experiences in nature.   

—Tom Zolper

Photo of the Week: Terrapin Park Sunset

SunsetFromTerrapinParkPhoto by Mark Dignen.

"This was taken from the beach along Terrapin Park. The Bay to me means an ecosystem that supports an entire region, not only a natural ecosystem of plants and animals but a financial ecosystem that makes Maryland what it is. Without the Bay we'd just be a throughway to points north and south."

—Mark Dignen

Ensure that Mark and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary sights like these in our watershed. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint! 

Do you have a favorite Bay photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's E-Communications Manager, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign], along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. We look forward to seeing your photos!

The First Peeler Run

378John Werry
Photo by John Werry. 

"I look for them when the first strawberries come off," said Capt. Grant Corbin, one of Deal Island's most skillful crabbers (you'll find two chapters about crabbing with him in William W. Warner's classic book, Beautiful Swimmers). Grant was talking about the "peeler run," when the Chesapeake's crabs slough (shed) for the first time each year, as water temperatures reach the mid-60s (Fahrenheit). 

Capt. Lonnie Moore, CBF's Fleet Senior Manager, says that on Tangier Island, he looks for the locust trees to bloom. On the Severn River around Annapolis, Lonnie's locust tree cue is just as accurate. The locust blooms and their sweet aroma announce that beach-combing will turn up pale, limp crab shells that are hinged in the front and empty when examined. Somehow, the combination of air, water, and soil temperatures produce these natural cues to the Chesapeake's seasons.

"We don't get much sleep the first month," Grant Corbin notes. As his peeler pots fill with "rank" (about-to-shed) crabs, both he and his wife, Ellen, stay busy tending them 24/7 in their "floats" (shedding tanks). Ditto for other soft crabbers, from Capt. Bob Jobes in Havre de Grace at the head of the Bay to Grant's Deal Island neighbor, Roy Ford, and Tangier Island's Mayor, James ("Ooker") Eskridge.

Sloughing is a stressful process for blue crabs, which must survive the process some 21 to 23 times during their lives. The strenuous activity drives up their need for oxygen about six times. In the first peeler run's cooler temperatures, there is usually plenty of dissolved oxygen in the water. As summertime temperatures climb into the mid-'80s, however, sloughing mortality can go as high as 40 percent in waterways where nitrogen pollution drives algae blooms that cause lethal crashes in oxygen levels.

Two more problems for sloughing crabs are habitat loss and predation. Historically throughout the Chesapeake, the best protection for sloughing crabs has been vast meadows of underwater grasses. In the past 40 years, though, pollution has caused a brutal decline in those vital shallow water habitats. CBF's 2012 State of the Bay Report graded underwater grass beds at 20 out of 100, a D- and a drop from 22 in the 2010 report.

Speckled Trout. Photo courtesy Capt. Ed Lawrence.
As to predation, "A soft crab doesn't have a friend in the world," laughs Grant Corbin. "We're not the only ones who want to eat him." In fact, predator fish like rock and speckled trout actually key on the first peeler run to move into shallow waters to feed. The run cues light tackle fishing captains like Kevin Josenhans in Tangier Sound and Chris Newsome and Ed Lawrence in Mobjack Bay to move into those rich areas to delight their clients with beautiful catches (which they often release with care).

Between soft crab sandwiches and memorable days on the water, there is much to celebrate in the first peeler run. If we want to keep these runs strong, through, we're going to have to manage our harvests carefully and continue the struggle to restore their underwater grass habitats and the dissolved oxygen they need to keep growing. As always, following the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is the key to a healthy Chesapeake.


John Page Williams
CBF's Senior Naturalist

Learn more about Grant and Ellen Corbin's soft crab operation here or make plans to go crabbing with Capt. Grant or other skillful watermen and -women!

To fish for rock and specks in shallow, crab-sloughing territory, visit Capt. Kevin Josenhans' website, Capt. Ed Lawrence's website, or Capt. Chris Newsome's website.

Photo of the Week: A Gift of a Sight

EaglePhoto by Gina Stewart. 

"[This is] a picture I took off of my deck in North East, Maryland. This Eagle is overlooking the North East River . . . a gift of a sightmajestic and bold."

—Gina Stewart

Ensure that Gina and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary sights like these in our watershed. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint!

Do you have a favorite Bay photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's E-Communications Manager, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign], along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. We look forward to seeing your photos!

Creola's Clean Water Story

197Photo by Creola Brossman.

Clean water is very important to me. I grew up in the Hampton Roads area in Virginia. My friends were always at Buckroe Beach during the summer sunbathing and swimming like most teenage girls were doing.

I'm living in Pennsylvania now and make frequent visits back to the beach at Buckroe. I have been back to visit every year as my sisters still live in the area. [I] have brought my husband to the beach and would like to share my childhood with my grandson, who is to be born this July. [My hope is that] the beach would be just as pristine as it was when I was a child.

Earth Day Tree Planting with Washington Gas Energy Services and Sterling Planet

Tree Planting 2
Photos by Lauren Belisle.

On Saturday, April 20, more than 100 volunteers gathered in Union Bridge, Md., to plant 1,400 trees and shrubs and to celebrate a unique partnership between CBF, Washington Gas Energy Services (WGES)and Sterling Planet. Since the partnership launched in 2010, WGES and Sterling Planet have contributed more than $400,000 to the CBF-directed Carbon Reduction Fund. The Fund supports projects that both reduce greenhouse gases and improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay, projects that have included planting more than 9,000 trees in Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Talbot, Frederick, and Carroll counties in Maryland.

Tree Planting Photo 3At the Earth Day event, WGES and Sterling Planet employees, together with Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and other CBF volunteers, planted native species of trees and shrubs along 6,000 feet of stream bank at the Flowing Springs Dairy Farm. The plants will absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow, reducing greenhouse gases, and will create a buffer to prevent erosion and runoff along the Wolf Pit Branch stream which ultimately flows into the Chesapeake Bay.

Contributions to the Carbon Reduction Fund are made when WGES natural gas supply customers participate in its CleanSteps® Carbon Offsets program. The program helps customers reduce their carbon footprints by matching natural gas usage with locally sourced certified carbon offsets.

—Harry Warren, President, Washington Gas Energy Services.

See more photos of this terrific event on our Facebook page.

Tree Planting Photo 1

Photo of the Week: Frog Congregation

Green frogsEight colorful frogs congregating by a fountain in North Point State Park, Maryland. Photo by Myrtha Allen.

"I taught the course  Ecosystems of the Chesapeake Bay in the Baltimore City Public School System at Patterson High School, so the Bay means a lot to me. The flora and fauna that live in and around the Chesapeake Bay region are truly unique. This uniqueness drives home the point that we must keep our waters clean. Otherwise those little frogs and other amazing animals dependent on the Bay for life, will become but a memory. Clean water is important not only for the life in the Bay, but also for those who love recreational swimming, fishing, crabbing, and a waterman's livelihood. Through teaching, it was my hope to embed and motivate . . . to drive others to love and care for our Bay and its tributaries as much as I do."

—Myrtha Allen

Ensure that Myrtha and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary sights like these in our watershed. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint!

Do you have a favorite Bay photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's E-Communications Manager, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign], along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. We look forward to seeing your photos!

Getting Past the "Rain Tax" Rhetoric

The following originally appeared in The Baltimore Sun yesterday.

Schlyer-cbr-8489Photo by © Krista Schlyer/iLCP.

Stormwater fees are the price we all must pay for cleaner water, healthier ecosystems and better lives.

Stormwater is the only source of pollution to local waterways that is growing. There has been much talk lately of stormwater fees as a "rain tax." While catchy, the moniker really doesn't tell the story.

The story begins when those raindrops hit parking lots, roads, and other paved surfaces. As they flow downhill, they pick up pollution—oil and grease from automobiles, fertilizer from our yards, and dog waste that wasn't picked up. That pollution flows into storm drains, then into local streams and creeks, then into local rivers.

Let's take a look at one of those rivers, the Magothy River in Anne Arundel County. Since the late 1980s, the Magothy, South, Severn and West rivers have been officially listed as impaired for nitrogen, phosphorus, and bacteria. That's still the case today. Those impairments have harmed the resources that live in those waterways, as well as increasing human health risks to the point that the health department warns against swimming for 48 hours after a heavy rain. Poor stormwater management also contributes to flooding that can cost millions of dollars in property damage.

In 2010, a comprehensive study by the Anne Arundel County Department of Public Works found that 94 percent of the phosphorus pollution, 37 percent of the nitrogen pollution and virtually all of the sediment and bacteria pollution in the Magothy River were the result of stormwater.

If the amount of pollution and damage to local waterways as a result of stormwater was coming, instead, from industry, the public would long since have demanded—and the law would have required—that the business clean up its act.

For more than a decade, the largest jurisdictions in Maryland have been required, under the federal Clean Water Act, to have permits for their stormwater discharges. In the past, those permits have not required that pollution be reduced. That is changing.

New stormwater permits will require each of the 10 largest jurisdictions in Maryland to take actions that reduce pollution in local waterways. That's where the stormwater fees come into play. In 2012, the General Assembly, acknowledging that more investments will be needed, passed legislation requiring that jurisdictions with stormwater permits set individual fees to cover at least part of the expense. In essence, the polluter pays—in this case, the polluter being you and me.

The law is flexible, as it should be. Each jurisdiction assesses its needs, what the costs will be, and what proportion of those costs the fee should cover. The law requires those jurisdictions to come up with a plan by July 1.

Investing in better stormwater management will not only benefit the health of local waterways, it will improve the quality of life, and support jobs and local economies. In February, the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center studied the economic impact and found that for every $100 million invested in stormwater in Anne Arundel County, there will be $220.2 million in benefit to the local economy, and it would support almost 800 jobs.

We are making slow but steady progress reducing pollution from agriculture and sewage treatment plants, progress that shows what can be done when governments, businesses and citizens work together. But many of our local rivers and streams still don't provide healthy habitat for fish, oysters and other aquatic life. By law, now it is time turn our attention to stormwater.

Some jurisdictions, like Howard, Baltimore, Harford, Montgomery, and Prince George's counties, have already demonstrated their leadership in addressing their responsibilities. Anne Arundel County's efforts were overturned last week when County Executive Laura Neuman vetoed fair and balanced legislation that the County Council had passed. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation hopes this is only a temporary setback.

Charles, Carroll, and Frederick counties, as well as Baltimore City, have yet to act.

This is truly the moment for cleaning up our waters. There is a Clean Water Blueprint in place to guide the state and local governments, and many are beginning to implement the practices that will result in cleaner water.

Our children and grandchildren will thank us for saving our local rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay—but that will only happen if we make the hard choices and continue the investments needed to achieve the goal.

—Alison Prost
Maryland Executive Director, Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Learn more about stormwater here.