Pennsylvania Discovery Trips: What's in Your Backyard?

Photo 5
Photo by Kim Patten/CBF Staff.

Pennsylvania has more miles of rivers and streams than almost any other state in the nation, and summer is a great time to get out and experience the tremendous beauty and unique habitats our waterways have to offer.

CBF invites you to join us on an upcoming "Discovery Trip" for members and friends.

On our June trip, participants enjoyed all the wonder of the Yellow Breeches. Fantastic weather set the stage for sightings of deer, wood ducks, egrets, kingfishers, and several wood turtles.

There are two more opportunities to get out on the water--join us if you can:

    1. Thursday, July 24 on the Swatara Creek in Dauphin County, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

    2. Saturday, August 2 on the Susquehanna River near Port Treverton, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Participants paddle a three- to five-mile stretch of a local creek, stream, or Susquehanna River. Each trip is led by CBF's Susquehanna Watershed Education Program (SWEP) staff, who provide everything you'll need for a fun and safe adventure. This includes, but is not limited to, canoes, paddles, lifejackets, snacks, and an introductory paddling instruction. Any paddling skill level is welcome, no experience necessaryThese are family-fun events!

Click here to learn more and to register. We'll see you out on the water! 

—Kelly Donaldson and Kim Patten, CBF Staff


Photo of the Week: Where in the World Is Save the Bay Now?

WhereintheWorldPhoto by Miriam McCullough.

Hemingway, Capote, and Bishop have all called this whimsical place home. Located at 24.5° N, 81.7° W, this is a place for prime Green Flash viewings. A once playground for pirates and rumrunners, this vibrant place is steeped in history...and beautiful blue-green waters. So Where in the World is Save the Bay Now? Enter your guesses in the comments below...

Are YOU going on any trips this summer? "Save the Bay" is on a quest to travel the world! So bring your sticker with you on your journeys. When you return, send us your digital photos of "Save the Bay" in front of different notable (or even not-so notable) scenes across your city, county, country, and worldNo place is too small or too ordinary, even your own backyard will do! If you don't have a sticker, e-mail CBF's E-Communications Manager, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign] We look forward to hearing and seeing your travel stories! 


The Bicycle Diaries, Part 1

Photo by Nikki Davis/Nikki Davis Photography

When was the last time you biked 1,300 miles around the Chesapeake Bay watershed? My guess is not too recently! That’s not the case for CBFers John Rodenhausen and Beth McGee who recently completed a three-week circumnavigation of the watershed, covering all six states from New York to Virginia . . . did I mention they were on bikes the whole time! “It just felt like the right thing to do for so many different reasons,” says Rodenhausen on a sunny Tuesday afternoon following the duo’s return.

JandBinCornFields Those reasons were very close to home. As McGee’s sister has diabetes and Rodenhausen’s nephew has Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, the two decided to ride for their families, raising money and awareness for these important issues through their adventure. Of course, as employees of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Bay was also top on their list of causes. “There is a link between a healthy environment and healthy bodies,” say Rodenhausen and McGee on their blog, “so hopefully our efforts will help Save the Bay, cure cancer and alleviate suffering from diabetes. Bold aspirations perhaps, but we’re going to do the best we can.”

Skylinedrive The journey included stops in Baltimore, MD, Scranton, PA, Cooperstown, NY, Charlottesville, VA, Seaford, DE, and many more. And despite the strenuous, sometimes rainy days, the two don’t have any regrets: “At no point did I ever feel like, ‘oh my god, why am I doing this?!’ and part of it I think was the chemistry between Beth and I. I really appreciated her steadfastness and her ability to just charge forward,” says Rodenhausen. “It was really fun, but it’s a once in a lifetime thing. Even if you tried to do it again, it wouldn’t be the same. You can’t recreate it,” says McGee. “You can’t redo the Mona Lisa,” Rodenhausen adds.

That’s not to say it was all peaches and cream. “There were some really physically challenging moments like when we thought it was going to be a six-mile descent into Cooperstown, and we would just be coasting in at 30 mph, but instead we wound up walking because it was a 20 percent decline on a rocky, muddy back, dirt country road,” says Rodenhausen. “That was probably the largest physical challenge because it was the end of that first week; we hadn’t had a day off the bike in five days; we just crossed three states; and we were carrying more weight than we were going to be carrying the rest of the trip.” “And it was raining!” McGee adds.

Cooperstown But never once did the two ever question why they were out there; never did they reach into their back pockets where they kept sealed, in-case-of-emergency-only envelopes with a list of their top five reasons for doing the trek when they hit rock bottom. “We just rode our bikes and ate,” says Rodenhausen, “I feel so guilty I mean we had so much fun doing it!”

The money keeps trickling in, but all in all, McGee and Rodenhausen, have exceeded their goal of $20,000 raised funds to go to their three causes. As of this week, $21, 301 has been raised ($11,000 for CBF, $5,195 for the American Diabetes Association, and $5,106 for Child Cancer Treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital).

Though they are happy to be home, they do remember fondly their days of “road magic,” as they like to call it, of serendipitously meeting generous strangers on the road or discovering off-the-beaten-path places. But as Rodenhausen reiterates, “The best part of leaving, is coming home.”

—Emmy Nicklin  

Stay tuned for more on Rodenhausen and McGee's reflections on their journey next week! In the meantime, to read more of Rodenhausen and McGee’s daily adventures, please visit their blogCheck out our Facebook page for more photos of their big welcome home. Find out how you can both bike and save the Bay here

Finally, to donate to Rodenhausen and McGee’s causes, please visit the following pages.


Photo courtesy of CBF Staff.

 Map courtesy of Microwave Telemetry.

Photo of the Week: Sunrise on the Bay

Photo by Dixie Hoggan/CBF Member

"For much of the year, I live on the Chesapeake Bay. The view from our house on Stove Point is unencumbered by land—just a jut of Gwynn Island to the right and Stingray Point to the left. In the distance almost directly in front of the house is Marker Number 6, a small black channel marker that blinks a red light at night. This marker is a beacon—a constant in an expanse of ever-changing light, wind, and color. Several years ago I decided to take a photo of this panorama every morning at dawn. While undertaking this project, I found that my long-time fascination with observing water and weather and sky turned into a fixation. This particular scene was shot early on a September morning. Several years ago in late summer, the morning skies were spectacular. But then, most mornings on the Bay are gorgeous, no matter the season.”

Dixie Hoggan, Deltaville and Richmond, Virginia


Where’s your favorite sunrise spot on the Bay? Join the Chesapeake Bay Foundation photo group on Flickr or post to our Facebook wall to submit yours! 

Better Than Disneyland!

Teachers from Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania participated in CBF's Chesapeake Classrooms Teacher Professional Development courses this summer. Three of them agreed to share their experiences with us. Today's guest blog is by Fran Glusiec, a teacher at Lee Davis High School in Mechanicsville, Virginia. Photos by Bill Portlock and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

For me personally, this has been a "magical" summer. It hasn't been so much about learning as about living.

Heron and sunset - Photo by Bill Portlock/CBF My summer "vacation" began two days after school let out. I participated in a three-day technology conference offered by the Math, Science Information Center in Richmond, Virginia. Each day "mini" classes provided teachers with "hands on" activities to encourage kids (of all ages) to explore a variety of math and science concepts, from nanotechnology to raising trout as a classroom project.

The conference ended on Friday at 3:30 p.m., and by 5:30 p.m. I was on a plane to Atlanta, Georgia. Saturday was about spending time with my family and having some fun visiting the World of Coca Cola and wandering about Atlanta. But Sunday was the day I waited for with breathless anticipation and wonder, for Sunday was the day we would visit the Georgia Aquarium and I would swim with whale sharks -- "Gentle Giants," measuring over 41 feet and weighing up to 26,000 tons. It was inspirational and totally exhilarating. I can't help getting, "psyched" and excited every time I think about the experience.

What I also took away from the Georgia Aquarium was a "passion." The passion was passed on to me by everyone I met there who cared for and worked with their "sea world" family.

Prothonotary warbler I doubted that my next adventure could "measure up," but after three days of participating in the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's outdoor field course entitled "Chesapeake Classrooms" I once more experienced that strong sense of dedication, caring, and "passion." It was obvious how each presenter felt about the Chesapeake Bay -- the wildlife, the land, its past, present, and future. There were Chuck's stories about the Atlantic Sturgeon coming back; Mike's mussels and the efforts ongoing to bring back native species to Virginia, as well as updates on the shad and herring populations; baiting crab pots with Ken on the James River; and Cathy's prothonotary warbler project that had all of us making birdhouses and excited about getting our students involved in a global effort to help this particularly beautiful little yellow bird.

Take a good look at the world around you -- the people, the geography, the diversity of life beneath the sea and in the air -- there is so much "magic!" And you know what? It's even better than Disneyland!

<< Read the first post in this series, "My Summer Adventure"

<< Read the second post in this series, "Wild is the Way"

Find out more about the magic of the Chesapeake Bay and how you can experience it at

Wild Is The Way

Teachers from Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania participated in CBF's Chesapeake Classrooms Teacher Professional Development courses this summer. Three of them agreed to share their experiences with us. Today's guest blog is by Claire Gardner, a first-grade teacher at Cedar Grove Elementary School in Germantown, Maryland. Photos by Bill Portlock and CBF staff.

marsh mucking - photo by Bill Portlock/CBFSometimes teachers get so busy trying to inform, that we squander our chances to help students form. We lose sight of what is important. But my week with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation brought everything back into focus, and my goals for the new school year include taking time (and making time) to allow my students to connect with nature. The Chesapeake Classrooms course allowed me to become a student again and realize the value of these necessary experiences. More than half of our group had attended a CBF summer immersion course before.  As CBF ‘veterans,' we could allow ourselves to enjoy the full experience since many of the ‘unknown concerns' had been addressed in previous settings. After all, aren't we like our students: how many times (and how many ways) must a concept be presented before it is truly part of our base of knowledge?

We were led by Bart Jaeger with collaboration from Shawn Ridgely, Adam Wickline and Bob Lehman. These educators love the Bay. They love it because they know it, and they know the Bay because they experience it with every fiber of their being; I think brackish water must flow along with the blood that runs through their veins. I would be willing to bet that they are truly at their happiest when totally immersed in the bio-region of the Chesapeake Bay.

Paddling the marshesWe started the week's study at the Horn Point Laboratory outside Cambridge, MD, learning about the lab's role in identifying solutions for restoring the Bay, which include researching submerged aquatic vegetation, and providing the largest hatchery on the East Coast for developing oyster spat used to re-seed depleted oyster beds. As we continued driving through the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge, we all marveled as I braked for a heron and egret as they gracefully lifted their long legs, searching for food at the road's edge. Since the road went directly through the marsh (and is occasionally underwater at high tide), extra caution was needed when driving. This gave us an opportunity to slow down and observe; this was a fitting and important prelude to the entire week. The road led us to CBF's Karen Noonan Study Center, a renovated hunting lodge and an Environmental Education Center dedicated to the memory of Karen E. Noonan, a young teacher who perished in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

After dinner, Bart guided us through the development of our organizing question: How has the change in natural and social systems affected the health of the Chesapeake Bay?  Already, the experiences from the afternoon and evening were helping us formulate a response. We found that we were steadily refining the question and looking at it from different points of view as the learning continued throughout the week. Again, aren't we like our students; don't we want them to form opinions and responses based on thorough consideration? 

The next day brought canoeing, marsh mucking, bay wading, shore exploring, a trip to Deal Island, oyster dredging, a crab feast, and a light show provided by Mother Nature. The canoeing, mucking, wading, and exploring were all combined in our study of the natural system of the marsh as we discovered its value, purpose and function. On closer inspection, we found a diversity of vegetation and animals and a discussion of interdependence followed. The experiences of this day were empowering; don't we want our students to gain and feel the empowerment of accomplishing goals that may have previously been denied because of fear or lack of exposure to an activity? Isn't a stronger sense of self an essential goal for all students?

Photo by Bill Portlock The next morning, we said, "Goodbye," to the conveniences of water pressure, electric lights, and air conditioning. Our trek to Fox Island would be by way of proggin' on Holland Island, passing South Marsh Island and the Martin Wildlife Refuge, and visiting the communities on Smith Island. These events brought us face-to-face with the ‘social systems' portion of our organizing question; these communities are shrinking just as quickly as erosion is claiming their shoreline. Our visit allowed us to see first hand the fierce pride and determination that embody the Islanders. While we question the effects of the social and natural systems on the health of the Bay, I cannot help but wonder about the influences of the social and natural systems upon each other.

We watched with awe (and a little fear) as an evening storm approached and inundated the lodge. With all manmade distractions (and conveniences) stripped away, it was a chance to reconnect with nature and find the wholeness that we often don't even realize is missing. Fox Island is magical to me; it provided a means to "strengthen the core skills underlying all learning: concentration, observation, relaxation, and open, receptive awareness with a positive, curious attitude." (*McHenry and Brady, 2009) As a class, our best discussions and exchanges happened at Fox. At our final group meeting, Bart encouraged us to use what we'd learned and experienced to influence how we teach our students: "You're good enough. You're strong enough. People like you. Make it happen." I feel privileged to have been on such an inspiring adventure! As teachers, don't we all want to have that kind of positive impact on our students?

Sunset at Fox IslandA plaque on a bench by the dock at Fox put everything in perspective: ‘Open Spaces, Sacred Places.' What a perfect setting to sort things out and focus on the impact of our actions. We were given the opportunity to see the big picture and come to the realization that we have more power than we know. We may now have more questions than answers, but we are able to ask them through a filter of respect for this fragile, vulnerable, one-of-a-kind, no-other-place-on-earth crossroads that has retained its ‘wildness.' I look forward to helping my students find meaningful, authentic learning experiences in nature; wild is the way!

*McHenry, Irene and Richard Brady (2009). Tuning In: Mindfulness in Teaching and Learning, Friends Council on Education

<< Read the previous post in this series, "My Summer Adventure"

Read the next post in this series, "Better Than Disneyland" >>

More on out how you can experience the wildness of the Bay yourself or learn more about CBF's education programs for teachers, students, and adults.

Butternut Bounty for Thanksgiving (and some special news)


Before I tell my farm visit tale, I want to let you know Homestead Gardens is holding a Farmers Market Holiday Outpost every Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Food products—not crafts or greenery—are being sold from local producers. I'll have the luscious Chape Creamery and Chery Glen cheeses plus Chesapeake Fields delectable snack, which is also extremely healthy (but you can keep that a secret.) Bonaparte Breads is also there with irresistable almond croissants, breads and soups. Around the very cool miniature train display is seating and often there is live music. It's quite a festive destination in itself. Come and hang out!


While scouting and exploring for a future farm tour, I had the pleasure of experiencing some of the beautiful winter produce from the largest organic farm in Maryland—One Straw Farm. Lovingly tended by Drew and Joan Norman since 1985, One Straw Farm supplies families, restaurants and wholesalers with the finest certified-organic produce. Joan has also initiated the Faith-Based Initiative with her CSA. She now services eight churches in the Baltimore region. Joan presented me an entire case of my favorite squash which led to every conceivable recipe I could create and test!


DSCN1233So let’s get back to cooking winter squash—specifically butternut along—with an outstanding recipe inspiration for the holidays. Originally conceived by Bon Appetit magazine, I wanted to tweak the style to represent more of the Chesapeake Region’s bounty.  We’ll be consuming it for Tiki Turkey Day, the annual Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s staff Thanksgiving meal. This year the “Best Dish Competition” will feature recipes made with as much local product as possible. Let’s see if my favorite recipe gets the prize. 

And yes, we’ll publish all of the winning recipes.

PLUS: I ‘ll be posting another Butternut (or pumpkin or even sweet potato) recipe I created as soon as I test it one more time!

Butternut Squash Gratin With Local Goat Cheese And Pecans 

8 to 10 servings

Squash is often sold already peeled and seeded, making this recipe even easier.

3 1/2 pounds butternut squash (about 2 medium), peeled, seeded, cut into 3/4- to 1-inch cubes (8 cups)

2 tablespoons olive oil

coarse kosher salt

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, divided

3 cups sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only)

1 1/ teaspoons chopped fresh sage

5-ounces soft fresh goat cheese ( about 2/3 cup)

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 cup pecans coarsely chopped

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add sliced leeks and chopped sage; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until tender but not brown, about 15 minutes. Coat 11x7-inch baking dish with remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Spread half of leek mixture over bottom of prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with half of squash and half of cheese. Repeat layering with leeks, squash, and cheese. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Pour cream mixed with curry powder evenly over gratin. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Bake uncovered until gratin is heated through and cream is bubbling, about 30 minutes (40 minutes if previously chilled).

TO GO: This gratin is a good choice for transporting because it travels well. Either complete the dish at home (wrap it tightly to keep warm) or wait until you get to your destination to add the cream and nuts and then bake.


Have some fabulous beta carotene!




Posted by Rita Calvert. Rita is a chef, educator, and writer and a founding member of Buy Fresh Buy Local Chesapeake Region. Visit her website On the Road With Chesapeake Local Bounty.