Nutrients. Sediments. TMDL. Amici briefs. How to talk plainly about the complex, wonky issues so central to restoring the Chesapeake Bay? It's a question we at CBF often ask ourselves.
We should have just turned to Dick Graham and Jane McKeel of Fairfax, Va. The pair, motivated simply by a love of the Bay, composed a 25-minute skit to dramatize Chesapeake Bay current events, then performed the skit for residents of their retirement community.
It was such a hit that more than 45 of their friends and neighbors signed a CBF petition supporting the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, the regional Bay cleanup plan. The Blueprint is now under attack by national farm and development interests and 21 state attorneys general from around the nation.
The couple then took their show on the road, performing the skit before a Gettysburg, Pa., church audience and for more than 50 CBF volunteers and staff at a Clean Water Captains training workshop in Newport News, Va., last month.
They brought the house down every time.
"Our Gettysburg presentation was very well received," Jane says. "During the commentary period following the skit and after the service, a lot of people spoke to us . . . We believe CBF will be hearing from the congregation soon."
And their performance before CBF volunteers ended with a rousing ovation that, Jane says, "we'll simply never forget."
Ann Jurczyk won't forget it either. She is CBF's Virginia Outreach and Advocacy Manager and heads up the Captains volunteer program.
"What an inspiration Dick and Jane are!" Jurczyk says. "They personify the creativity, initiative, and power that committed volunteers can bring to the table. And they did this all on their own without help or input from CBF. They're simply amazing."
Which is why Jurczyk invited the pair to perform the skit at the volunteer workshop and afterward named Dick and Jane honorary CBF Clean Water Captains.
CBF's Clean Water Captains are adult "uber" volunteers who serve as local eyes, ears, and voices for the Bay across Virginia. The captains regularly confer with CBF staff to stay abreast of Bay issues and share developments in their own communities. Often they take the lead in voicing clean water concerns to local elected officials, civic groups, and news media.
The June workshop, held at Mariners' Museum in Newport News, was attended by 25 new Captain recruits and more than a dozen veteran Captains, who heard updates from Jurczyk, other CBF staff, government officials, a university scientist, and, of course, Dick and Jane. They also enjoyed an educational tour of the Warwick River aboard the Bea Haman Clark, CBF's Hampton Roads education vessel.
"Our Captains are a wonderfully diverse group," said Jurczyk. "They bring so much experience, expertise, and enthusiasm to CBF's efforts. Captains are true Bay ambassadors, and CBF could not influence policy without them."
Interested in becoming a Clean Water Captain and making a difference in your community? Contact Jurczyk at 804/780-1392, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit cbf.org/captains to watch a brief video.
CBF sends big thanks to the Mariners' Museum for hosting the recent Captain's workshop. And another round of applause for Dick and Jane, volunteer thespians who have brought the drama of Bay restoration to appreciative audiences around the watershed!
—Chuck Epes, CBF's Deputy Director of Media Relations