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Women’s History Month at the Chesapeake Bay Trust

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Women’s History Month at the Chesapeake Bay Trust: Kacey Wetzel

Let our female leaders tell you their stories!


When the Chesapeake Bay Trust was created in 1985, our goal was to help improve the watersheds of the Chesapeake Bay, the Maryland Coastal Bays and the Youghiogheny River. Part of this mission involves fostering the inclusion of individuals and groups from diverse backgrounds, including women. This year for Women’s History Month, we would like you to take a look at three women at the Trust who are leading in environmental work. Today, we will focus on Kacey Wetzel, Director of Programs for Outreach & Education.

Kacey Wetzel, Director of Programs for Outreach & Education

1) Can you tell me a little about yourself and what your role is at the Trust?

Kacey: I was born and raised in Maryland and have a longstanding love for the Chesapeake Bay and water generally. While I have lived in a few places, I came back to the Chesapeake region in 2006 and joined the Trust staff in 2007. I am the Director of Outreach and Education here at the Trust and I work with an amazing team of folks who care deeply about environmental and community well-being.

2) What inspired you to become involved in Environmental work?

Kacey: I had a wonderful teacher named Mrs. Ginger in middle school who organized an essay contest to select students to participate in an immersive multi-day environmental education experience. While I didn’t know it at the time, I was participating in a Meaningful Watershed Education Experience (or what we affectionately refer to as a MWEE). At some point over the course of several days, while listening to geese overhead, smelling the brackish water, and walking through sandy beaches and black needle rush, I fell in love. That experience and the incredible passion of my teacher Mrs. Ginger set the course for my academic pursuits and my career.

3) What advice would you give a woman who wanted to pursue a career similar to yours?

Kacey: There are so many on-ramps to environmental careers now, so I don’t think you need to have an academic background in environmental science to find your niche in the environmental movement. If you feel passionate about something, however small it may be, that is likely your calling and is likely your best entry point into an environmentally oriented career. I know so many amazing women that have found their way into environmental careers by starting with simple questions: How can I reduce my waste? How can I improve my health? How can I help my community? Why is that incinerator being built here? How come the water is brown? So I think the best advice I can give a woman who wants to pursue an environmental career is to stay curious and listen to your inner voice. It may sound like a whisper but it will likely guide you in the right direction.

4) What barriers have you faced as a female leader?

Kacey: While I have personally encountered and still continue to encounter ageism and misogyny within the environmental movement, I know that I am privileged because I identify as a cis-gender white woman. As a cis-gender white woman, I recognize that I only have a white, heterosexual female frame of reference and that my experience is not the experience of my colleagues who may identify as transgender, black, indigenous, or people of color. I also recognize that as a cis-gender white woman it is important for me to listen to those who identify as transgender and/or people of color, hear their perspectives and seek to understand how I can help to break down barriers faced by my colleagues.

5) What do you think are the qualities of a great leader?

Kacey: I think the ability to hold space for others’ viewpoints and to avoid binary thinking is critical. This is going to sound very Brene Brown, but I think great leaders maintain clear values and are emotionally courageous (willing to be vulnerable). I respect leaders that genuinely care about others, stay curious, and operate from self-awareness, not self-protection.

6) Who is a woman that inspires you now or in the past? How have you used their lessons in your growth?

Kacey: I am so lucky to have so many wonderful women that inspire me every day. If I have to pick just one though, I will always pick my mom. My mom experienced a lot of trauma in her life, but she was always clear about her values. She valued integrity, kindness, and compassion, and her values were her guiding light. Despite a lot of hardship and darkness, she made sure to instill those values in us (my brother and I). She always said you should ‘fight for the underdog’. I miss my mom a lot but she is still a guiding light for me every day.

Thank you for celebrating Women’s History Month with the Trust! We encourage you to look at women in your life who have influenced you and thank them for their inspiration.

Women’s History Month at the Chesapeake Bay Trust

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Women’s History Month at the Chesapeake Bay Trust: Sadie Drescher

Let our female leaders tell you their stories!


When the Chesapeake Bay Trust was created in 1985, our goal was to help improve the watersheds of the Chesapeake Bay, the Maryland Coastal Bays and the Youghiogheny River. Part of this mission involves fostering the inclusion of individuals and groups from diverse backgrounds, including women. This year for Women’s History Month, we would like you to take a look at three women at the Trust who are leading in environmental work. Today, we will focus on Sadie Drescher, Director of Programs for Restoration.

Sadie Drescher, Director of Programs for Restoration

1) Can you tell me a little about yourself and what your role is at the Trust?

Sadie: I have worked in the environmental field for over twenty years from my beginnings in the laboratory and field to “behind the desk” to manage the Trust’s restoration programs. I love my job. My favorite thing to do is to connect people, ideas, and resources and that is a big part of working at the Trust.

2) What inspired you to become involved in Environmental work?

Sadie: Growing up in rural eastern Tennessee on well water and using a septic system made me very aware of the importance of clean drinking water and water conservation. I also loved going on hikes with my family. These hikes are where I started to love and appreciate nature. These early experiences shaped my appreciation for the environmental field. I have always been interested in water. In fact, my middle name is “Rain.”

3) What advice would you give a woman who wanted to pursue a career similar to yours?

Sadie: Go for it! There is nothing holding you back. Always look for mentors to give you feedback. Ask questions and learn from the many mistakes/obstacles you will encounter.

4) What barriers have you faced as a female leader?

Sadie: I would not label myself as a “leader” but that is a kind sentiment. I am always learning so sometimes I am leading but most often I am learning from others. As far as barriers I have encountered – there have been too many to count and with hard work, I believe that any barrier can be overcome.

5) What do you think are the qualities of a great leader?

Sadie: This is a great question. Leaders hold others up and help them grow. Leaders hold us accountable for the quality of our work, our actions, and our words. Leaders have empathy and curiosity.

6) Who is a woman that inspires you now or in the past? How have you used their lessons in your growth?

Sadie: My aunt Sandy has always inspired me for her strength, compassion, honesty, and humor. Sandy is a Mennonite preacher in Pennsylvania with a background in social work who pushes the envelope as a woman in this position (people left her congregation when she became pastor just because she was a woman) and she supports progressive social positions that are not always popular in her circles. In summary, she is her own person and charges her own path which I greatly admire.

Thank you for celebrating Women’s History Month with the Trust! We encourage you to look at women in your life who have influenced you and thank them for their inspiration.

Maryland Outdoor Spaces – Legislator Favorites

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Maryland Outdoor Spaces – Legislator Favorites

On January 21, 2021, more than 60 legislators attended the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s virtual legislative reception. They were invited to share some of their favorite outdoor spots in their districts and throughout Maryland. Their contributions were so wonderful that we were asked to compile them and send them to attendees. As Senate President Bill Ferguson said, “Our parks are those spaces that bring Marylanders together to get that fundamental belief in love of family, of friends, of each other.” “Our 6,400 parks and green spaces are a great way to boost your mental and overall health” added House Speaker Adrienne Jones. Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Jeanne Haddaway-Riccio reminded us all how diverse Maryland is, and we see this in the list of favorite spots below.

The sites on the list below are not exhaustive, but were those suggested by legislators and guests present that evening as places they visit to get outdoors and feel refreshed and recharged. The entries include a word or two about the site, the name of the legislator suggesting the site, and a website for more information.

Anne Arundel County

Thomas Point Park

B&A Trail, great for walking, biking, rollerblading, and more, stretches from Boulters Way in Annapolis to Dorsey Road in Glen Burnie, Maryland. The Earleigh Heights Ranger Station (ca. 1889) is located in Severna Park with parking available on the premises. A gazebo, horticultural gardens and park benches are found at the Hatton-Regester Green property in Severna Park – Senator Pam Beidle

BWI Trail picks up from the Dorsey Road end of the B&A Trail and circles BWI Airport for an additional 12 miles of paved trail. A parking lot and playground are located at the Thomas A. Dixon Observation Area. Several scenic views of the BWI Airport are found along this loop trail. – Senator Pam Beidle

Thomas Point Park – This park boasts a beautiful view of a lighthouse. “A silver lining of the struggles over the last year is that we have renewed interest in and passion for outdoors and green spaces, specifically those that are accessible that have an eye towards equity. It’s good not just for the bay but for health in general.” – Senator Sarah Elfreth

Tolly Point Shoal offers a great spot for fishing – Delegate Dana Jones

Lake Ogleton offers a great spot to fish, crab, and kayak. You can see lots of nesting ospreys in the right season. – Delegate Dana Jones

Truxton Park offers a mile and a half hiking trail and a boat launch ramp. – Delegate Shaneka Henson


Baltimore City

Loch Raven Reservoir is one of the most pristine outdoor locations in the Baltimore metropolitan area, with resplendent plants and wildlife and beautiful water vistas, where visitors can enjoy miles of hiking trails that wind their way along the banks of the reservoir. Hikers and bikers can expect to see a wide variety of birds, including ravens, cardinals, blue jays, woodpeckers, and even bald eagles, as well as a lush and varied array of plants and trees, including oaks, beeches, maples, poplars, raspberries, and wild roses. – Speaker Adrienne Jones

Patterson Park Pagoda. The pagoda (1891) is one of Senate President Bill Ferguson’s favorite spots in Patterson Park, a historic site important in the War of 1812 which is now frequented by neighborhood schools and churches for its athletic fields and is home to one of the two ice rinks available in the city. –Senate President Bill Ferguson

Patterson Park Pagoda

Patterson Park Pagoda

Jones Falls Trail is a 10-mile hiking biking trail along the Jones Falls that wraps around Druid Hill Reservoir. – Delegate Maggie McIntosh

Stoney Run. Beautiful stream that runs through Baltimore, go over a bridge, and into Wyman Park area. – Delegate Maggie McIntosh

Druid Hill Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the same planner that designed Central Park in New York City. It is the third oldest public park in the United States. – Delegate Maggie McIntosh. 

Clifton Park

Clifton Park is one of the historic parks in Baltimore City. It offers a lot of amenities, including gardens and paths. – Delegate Dana Stein 

Lake Montebello is a great 1.4-mile loop trail good for running and biking. – Delegate Dana Stein. 

Patterson Park neighborhoods have become greener through various community efforts and are a great place to take a lovely walk. There is “strengthened social fabric through greening.” – Delegate Robbyn Lewis

Wyman Park is described as a 16-acre urban sanctuary. “We all want to be outside. We all want fresh air. We all want green space.” – Delegate Regina T. Boyce

Herring Run Park consists of 375 acres of woodlands that extends 2.3 miles from Morgan State University to I-895, also designed by the Olmsted brothers. – Delegate Regina T. Boyce

Walking the Olmsted – You can take a self-guided tour that visits various historical, cultural and scenic points of interest – Delegate Regina T. Boyce 


Baltimore County

Irvine Nature Center boasts 200 acres of meadows, woodlands, and wetlands and a great environmental education center. – Delegate Dana Stein 

Radebaugh Park, Towson opened at the beginning of the pandemic. Green Towson Alliance (GTA), state, and local government partnership. GTA working on the “Six Bridges Trail” to connect neighborhoods along the Herring Run to the new park – Delegate Cathi Forbes

Patapsco Valley State Park

Patapsco Valley State Park extends along 32 miles of the Patapsco River, encompassing 16,043 acres and eight developed recreational areas. Recreational opportunities include hiking, fishing, camping, canoeing, horseback and mountain bike trails – Delegate Sheila Ruth 

Patapsco Valley State Park – Cascade Trail in the Avalon area. A bonus is the nearby swinging bridge – Delegate Courtney Watson

Catonsville Rails to Trails converts abandoned rail and trolley lines to hiking trails. – Delegate Shelia Ruth

Soldiers Delight is a 1900-acre space boasting over 39 rare, threatened and endangered plant species and 7 miles of trails. – Delegate Benjamin Brooks

Gunpowder Falls State Park covers over 18,000 acres in Harford and Baltimore Counties and hosts a varied topography, ranging from tidal wetlands to steep and rugged slopes. The park features more than 120 miles of multi-use trails, wildlands, historic sites, fishing, kayaking, canoeing and a swimming beach and marina – Delegate Ric Metzger

Gunpowder Falls State Park, photo provided by DNR

Cox’s Point State Park is a 25.9-acre waterfront park offering fishing, a boat ramp, picnicking and more. Eastern Baltimore County boasts 250 miles of shoreline: “During this pandemic I’ve been getting my coffee…I’ve been going to the park and just sitting in the park and breathing the fresh air.” – Delegate Ric Metzger

Fort Howard State Park’s historical significance is its connection with the largest invasion of the United States in history in 1814. The British had landed about seven thousand men near the site that later became Fort Howard – Delegate Ric Metzger


Calvert County

Calvert Cliffs State Park and nearby Flag Ponds Nature Park offer stunning views and fossil hunting that attracts visitors from all over the country. “I am honored to have Calvert Cliffs in my district, with its beautiful views, and serene, peaceful setting. I am happy to know people were able to take advantage of this wonderful resource during this difficult time.” – Senator Jack Bailey  

Charles County

Nanjemoy Creek WMA is mostly forested, providing opportunity to see white-tailed deer, turkey, and forest interior dwelling birds. Along the marsh, herons, bald eagles, osprey, migratory songbirds, raccoons, otters and muskrat are some of the wildlife that you might see – Senator Arthur Ellis. 

Smallwood State Park, a 628-acre park, offers a marina, boat launching ramps, a picnic area, camping area, pavilions, a recycled tire playground and nature trails – Senator Arthur Ellis 

Mallows Bay

Mallows Bay is home to nearly 200 historic shipwrecks dating from the Revolutionary War through the present, known as the “Ghost Fleet” of Mallows Bay. The best way to see the site is by kayak – Senator Arthur Ellis

Indian Head Rail Trail offers 16-17 miles walking and hiking and birding (eagles, wild turkeys). We do need to make sure that everyone has the ability to easily visit some of these beautiful and health-improving sites. “We have to make sure that these beautiful sites are accessible to all our citizens as an environmental justice issue.” – Senator Arthur Ellis 


Frederick County

C&O Canal – The C&O Canal National Historic Park extends along the Potomac River shoreline from Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, MD. The Canal’s entire 185-mile long towpath is restored, open to hikers and bikers and is accessible from many points in Frederick County. – Delegate Ken Kerr 

Appalachian Trail – Almost 40 miles of the AT, as it is affectionately known, cross Maryland, most of which follow the ridgeline of South Mountain.– Delegate Ken Kerr 

Gambrill State Park is a beautiful mountain park, located on the ridge of the Catoctin Mountains in Frederick County. Its most popular feature is the 16 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. “I wasn’t fortunate to have been born in Frederick, but I was smart enough to make it my home.” – Delegate Ken Kerr

Carroll Creek Park is a linear park through beautiful downtown Frederick. Spanning more than a mile, this creek walk offers more than just a beautiful view; specialty shops, outdoor dining, breweries and a distillery are among the businesses located along the park – Delegate Ken Kerr

Image result for carroll creek park

Carroll Creek Park

Civil war battlefields. Frederick County was at the crossroads of America’s Civil War. Located on the Mason-Dixon Line, Frederick County was the site of the Battle of South Mountain (1862) and the Battle of Monocacy (1864). Its towns were alternately occupied by troops from both sides in the days before the nearby battles of Antietam (1862) and Gettysburg (1863). – Delegate Ken Kerr 

Catoctin Mountain Park, where Camp David is, lies within the mountainous area known as the Blue Ridge Province. This 5,810-acre hardwood forest park offers its refreshing streams and scenic vistas. – Delegate Ken Kerr 


Harford County

Swan Harbor Farm Park in Harford County for a great place to hike, bird watch and see where the Susquehanna meets the Bay – Susanne Zilberfarb, MAEF 


Howard County

Wincopin Trails – “My district is filled with trails along the Middle and Little Patuxent Rivers and even a really beautiful spot where the two come together.” – Delegate Jen Terrasa. (Delegate Harrison Fletcher confirms there is great fishing there! “Everyone knows how much I love fishing… I keep a couple fishing rods and tackle box in my trunk” – Delegate Andrea Harrison Fletcher

Patapsco Valley State Park extends along 32 miles of the Patapsco River, encompassing 16,043 acres and
eight developed recreational areas. Recreational opportunities include hiking, fishing, camping, canoeing, horseback and mountain bike trails – Delegate Jessica Feldmark


Montgomery County

Blackhill Regional Park – 2,000 acres with a lake for canoeing and paddle-boarding, dog park, trails, fishing  – Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo

Patuxent River State Park

Patuxent River State Park in Brookeville, Maryland offers 6,700 acres of natural areas and farmlands. Recreational use is primarily hunting, fishing, hiking and horseback riding. The park includes a catch and release trout stream, designated hunting areas and unmarked hiking and equestrian trails – Delegate Pamela Queen 

Rock Creek Park and trails –This 1,754-acre city park was officially authorized in 1890, making it the third national park to be designated by the federal government. It offers visitors the opportunity to escape the bustle of the city and find a peaceful refuge, recreation, fresh air, majestic trees, wild animals, and thousands of years of human history – Delegate Pamela Queen, Delegate Jared Solomon, Delegate Jim Gilchrist 

Lake Needwood – Trails follow the shoreline of Lake Needwood in Rock Creek Regional Park and meander through adjoining forest. The Lake Needwood area offers canoeing, paddle-boarding, and fishing Patuxent River State Park 8 – Delegate Bonnie Cullison, Delegate Jim Gilchrist 

Underground Railroad Experience Trail. The trail was created to provide more pedestrian trails in the

Oakley Cabin Trail

community, preserve the rural landscape and commemorate a part of the county’s history. Come during Heritage Days in June or Emancipation Day in November. – Delegate Pamela Queen  

Oakley Cabin African-American Museum and Park. An African American roadside community lived and worked on this historic site from emancipation well into the 20th century. Their culture and traditions heavily influenced those of surrounding communities, and their story is deeply woven into Montgomery County’s rich history. At the center of this site is Oakley Cabin, which was inhabited until 1976 and now serves as a living history museum. – Delegate Pamela Queen

Seneca Creek State Park is composed of 6,300 acres. The Clopper Day-Use Area contains many scenic areas, including the 90-acre Clopper Lake, surrounded by forests and fields. Picnicking, boat rentals, trails and a tire playground are just some of its recreational opportunities. Over 50 miles of trails are open for hiking, horseback riding and bicycling which wind through a variety of habitat. – Delegate James Gilchrist 

North Bethesda/Bethesda Trolley Trail- The Bethesda Trolley Trail is a great urban hike that mixes paved trails, major highway crossings via pedestrian bridges and a bit of street hiking to link them all together. The cool thing about this hike is that you go right through the heart of Bethesda. – Delegate James Gilchrist 

C&O Canal – Great Falls, Potomac MD

C&O Canal National Historic Park– The 184.5-mile-long recreational, educational and historic attraction welcomes over 5 million visitors each year. It is a major economic driver for the four Maryland counties – including Montgomery County – and the ten Canal Towns it passes through, responsible for approximately $98.4 million in visitor spending in 2019. – Delegate James Gilchrist

Audubon Naturalist Society Woodend Sanctuary is a peaceful 40-acre oasis offering wildflower meadows, meandering woodland trails, native plant gardens, and aquatic life. It’s a great place for kids and family, and they are working on a new ADA-accessible Oakley Cabin Trail, Potomac MD 9 trail and a veteran’s program to use it, partly funded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust. – Delegate Jared Solomon 

Matthew Henson Trail

Sligo Creek Trail – This roughly 10.2-hard surface trail is one of the oldest in the County. Several paved and a few unpaved trails are scattered throughout the park and connect other park facilities, schools, and neighborhoods to the main trail. It’s a great place to train for running. – Delegate Lorig Charkoudian 

Matthew Henson Trail – The 4.2 mile, 8-foot-wide hard surface trail features 0.6 miles of wooden boardwalk. The trail is surrounded by parkland, forested area, thousands of trees and shrubs, and the Turkey Branch Stream. – Delegate Bonnie Cullison 


Queen Anne’s County

Cross Island Trail

Kent Island Cross Island Trail. The 6+-mile trail, wandering through farmland, meadows, wetlands, and woods, spans from Terrapin Park to the Chesapeake Heritage and Visitor Center at Kent Narrows and now beyond. The trail crosses several creeks with wooden bridges, offering a spectacular view of waterfowl and wetlands. – Senator Adelaide Eckhardt, Delegate Steven Arentz, Commissioner Chris Corchiarino

Terrapin Park. This 276-acre nature park features a 3.25-mile oyster chaff walking trail, which meanders through wildflower meadows, wetlands, tidal ponds, woodlands and sandy beaches. The trail provides a unique vantage point for viewing an incredible variety of waterfowl, wildlife and plant species. A gazebo and wheelchair-accessible boardwalk located along the beach afford a spectacular view of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. – Commissioner Chris Corchiarino 

Prince George’s County

Riverdale Park Trail – Prince George’s County has 165 miles of trail in its park system, including paved trails for walking, biking, running, skating; natural surface trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding; and water trails for canoeing and kayaking. Senator Pinsky likes to start at Riverdale Park and bike down to the waterfront or bike up to Lake Artemesia Natural Area in College Park. – Senator Paul Pinsky 

Laurel, Maryland – Laurel is a wonderful place to walk, offering a walking tour of historic Laurel through the City’s website. You can walk to three different counties from there! – Delegate Mary Lehman


Worcester County

Assateague Island is a barrier island bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the Sinepuxent Bay on the west, with land owned by both the federal and state government. Its miles of ocean beaches offer swimming, beachcombing, sunbathing, surfing and fishing. The bayside offers visitors the chance to explore secluded coves by canoe or kayak. The marsh areas have a variety of wildlife, including deer, waterfowl and of course the wild horses. – Delegate Wayne Hartman

Assateague Island Marshes

Project Highlight: ‘Scoop that Poop’ Pet Waste Education Campaign

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In 2017, the University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center (EFC) received an award through the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program to conduct phase II of the Pet Waste Education Campaign. This campaign is an effort to support the broader Pet Waste Management (PWM) Initiative, known as “Scoop That Poop,” launched in 2016 by Prince George’s County Department of the Environment (DoE). To date, over 200 pet waste stations have been installed across more than 40 municipalities and homeowners associations (HOAs) through the PWM Initiative. The Pet Waste Education Campaign carried out by EFC’s Sustainable Maryland team was designed to offer outreach, education, and infrastructure support to increase awareness about the issue of pet waste pollution and to encourage residents to pick up their pet’s waste. The campaign was defined by four major strategies: 1) convening outreach activities focusing on pet waste and stormwater pollution, 2) developing and promoting bilingual outreach education material, 3) deployment of an asset management tool, and 4) identifying locations for and installing pet waste stations.

By the Numbers
Pet Waste Video
Pet Waste Management Summit
Homeowners Associations
Pet Waste Stations Installed

Pet waste station installed at Tunic Park in Capitol Heights, Maryland.

EFC worked with seven municipalities for this phase of the campaign: Colmar Manor, Hyattsville, Fairmount Heights, Berwyn Heights, Seat Pleasant, Forest Heights, and Capitol Heights. Each municipality received support in identifying pet waste and stormwater management goals, had customized outreach and education plans delivered to them, and received up to 10 pet waste stations each – for a total of 70 pet waste stations! EFC assisted in identifying ideal locations for each station, then the municipalities took the installation of each station into their own hands. Following the installation of the pet waste stations, EFC distributed 100 copies of “Scoop That Poop” brochures and four “Scoop That Poop” car magnets to each of the seven municipalities, which were placed on DPW and code enforcement vehicles. During this project, the municipalities also received support through train-the-trainer sessions, where EFC staff convened and trained key staff, elected officials, and local Green Team members on best practices for talking to residents about pet waste management and stormwater pollution. EFC also worked with five HOAs during phase II: Village Green Mutual Homes Cooperative, East Pines Neighborhood association, Fox Chase I Civic Association, Riverdale RRC Community Association, and Avondale North Woodridge Citizen’s Association. These HOAs received assistance in identifying suitable pet waste station locations. A total of 16 stations were installed amongst the five HOAs.

Locally targeted outreach efforts were complimented with a county-wide Pet Waste Management Summit focused on pet waste and stormwater runoff pollution. Close to 50 attendees participated in this summit, which also provided a platform for phase I municipalities to share experiences and the value of pet waste education, stations, and ongoing monitoring efforts. EFC supported monitoring efforts throughout this project by working with the DoE to build out and enter pet waste station data into a monitoring application. During phase II, EFC was able to collect monitoring data from 13 stations installed in phase I.

Phase II culminated in the creation of an educational pet waste video. This minute-long video explains the harmful impact that pet waste can have on human health when left on the ground. Pet waste that is improperly disposed of can be carried away into local streams and rivers, where it decays and releases excessive nutrients that contribute to decreased oxygen levels. Pet waste bacteria can spread human diseases, making local waters unsafe to swim and fish.

Fortunately, proper disposal of pet waste is easy – especially when the right tools, such as pet waste stations, have been made readily available. Prince George’s County wants you to “Scoop That Poop” for more beautiful, healthier communities and cleaner waterways!

Pollution Prevention and Water Quality go Hand in Hand

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This past week commemorated the 30th celebration of Pollution Prevention Week, a week focused on educating and mobilizing government agencies, industries, and individuals to play their part in reducing and preventing pollution. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines pollution prevention as “reducing or eliminating waste at the source.” By targeting pollution at its source, less energy and resources are spent in the management and disposal of pollution. Though most of the burden of this source reduction falls on industries and government agencies, individuals can take meaningful steps to reduce pollution at home.

One step we can take is to reduce the amount of trash we are generating. On average, a single person generated 4.51 pounds of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), otherwise known as trash, per day in 2017 which amounts to about 1,700 pounds of trash generated in a single year. The total amount of trash generated in the United States in 2017 was 267.8 million tons, a number that rises each year. Plastic products represented 13.2% of the 267.8 million tons of trash generated, the second highest category of trash produced after paper and paperboard (25%).

Plastic waste poses a serious environmental threat for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed region, as some of this plastic makes its way into our local waterways and eventually into the Bay. Wildlife can be entangled by or ingest plastic, which can ultimately lead to starvation and death. Beyond presenting a direct physical danger to wildlife, plastic products contain or carry several different chemical components, some of which are toxic and slow to degrade. The physical and chemical impacts of plastic pollution lead to weakened ecosystems and waters that are not safe to swim or fish in. However, there are several small but significant steps we can take to protect the health of our communities and increase the quality of local streams and rivers.

One way we can help cut down on plastic pollution is to reduce our use of plastic. Below are a few of the ways we can cut down on our use of plastic products.

  • Bring your own cloth bags to the [store]
  • Go to the farmer’s market and purchase fresh fruits and veggies (not packaged in plastic)
  • Clean with baking soda and vinegar instead of cleaners packaged in plastic
  • Store all your food in glass containers. If you purchase something bottled in glass, clean it and reuse it!
  • Compost your trash, reduce your use of plastic trash bags

The ideas above are just a few small steps you can take to generate less plastic waste. The full list of tips and ideas from Reef Relief can be found here.

Chesapeake Conservation Corps Profile: Sam Myers & The Nature Conservancy

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Sam coring a white pine as part of her Capstone project to study the impact of historical fires on forest structure at TNC’s Sideling Hill Creek preserve in western Maryland. (Photo: Deborah Landau/TNC)

Participating in the Chesapeake Conservation Corps (Corps) is a unique experience. We are showcasing the individual Conservation Corps members in the 2019-2020 cohort along with information on their host site and descriptions of the incredible work they are doing. This month’s featured Corps member: Sam Myers.

Growing up in Maryland, Sam’s love for the environment was ignited by her experiences in the marshes of the Chesapeake Bay. Sam will always remember her middle school field trip where her class spent time out on the water setting out crab pots, netting fish close to the shore, and mucking in the nearby marsh. She states, “this hands-on learning is what drew me to environmental science and sparked my love for ecology and environmental conservation.” During her time at Washington University in St. Louis, she pursued a degree in environmental studies and worked in their research labs studying plant population ecology and plant pathology. In college, Sam was able to visit the Mojave Desert in California, and Hawaii to study the unique ecology and geology on federally managed lands. Sam also studied abroad in Panama learning about tropical ecology and indigenous resource conservation. Her time traveling helped her realize that there is so much more to learn about the natural world and how different communities work to manage and preserve it.

Chesapeake Conservation Corps members learned how to core trees and helped collect data for Sam’s capstone project at TNC’s Sideling Hill Creek preserve as part of a site visit that she hosted in February.

Upon beginning her time in the Corps, Sam initially wanted to learn about and contribute to environmental conservation projects and spend time working out in the field. She feels lucky to have been placed with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in their Maryland/District of Columbia office where she learned about restoration, land management, and conservation science.

Spanning 79 countries and territories alongside all 50 states, TNC is a science-based organization whose mission is to “conserve the lands and waters on which all life depend” by working with partners to advance conservation locally, regionally, and globally. Sam supports their mission as part of the Land Management team by assisting with controlled burns, monitoring rare plant species, and removing invasive species on their preserves. Sam has been able to work on multiple research projects of her own, including an ecosystem services analysis of TNC’s preserves in Maryland and a Capstone project, which is part of each Corps member’s work plan for the year, and is a graduation requirement.

One of her favorite things to experience (before COVID-19 restrictions were put in place in Maryland) was exploring the different landscapes across the state encapsulated in TNC’s preserves—from the Delmarva bay wetlands on the Eastern Shore to the Central Appalachian forests and montane bogs in western Maryland. Even though she grew up in Maryland, Sam admits, she had no idea of the vastly diverse ecological communities feeding into the treasured Chesapeake Bay.

Assisting with a controlled burn at Plum Creek Cedar Swamp on the Eastern Shore in January 2020. The burn helped to prepare two grass fields for a longleaf pine planting in February. (Photo: Chase McLean/TNC)

For her Capstone project, Sam studied the impact of historical fires on forest structure at TNC’S Sideling Hill Creek preserve in western Maryland. Sideling Hill Creek preserve is an 800-acre oak-pine forest with areas of shale barrens that harbor the unique biodiversity of plants and animals. TNC has been conducting controlled burns since 1962 and uses fire as a management tool to sustain fire-dependent ecosystems and prevent catastrophic wildfires. In Maryland, TNC has been conducting controlled burns on the Eastern Shore since 2008 and has started to develop a burn program in western Maryland (central Appalachians). Though fire was once common and widespread throughout this region, fire exclusion during the past century has threatened the dynamics of this forest. Sam’s capstone project examines how the fire history at Sideling Hill Creek may have shaped today’s forest dynamics. It will serve as a baseline to inform TNC’s management of the preserve and can also inform management of forests regionally across the central Appalachians.

At TNC, Sam has been able to dip her toes into different conservation projects and learn about the interdisciplinary functioning of a global non-profit conservation organization. Sam states that through this opportunity she has gotten to know some wonderful people who have enriched her Corps experience, including her mentor, Deborah Landau. Among other professional development opportunities, the Chesapeake Conservation Corps program also provided a variety of opportunities to learn about other environmental organizations and work alongside other Corps members. Sam will be attending the University of Massachusetts – Amherst to further her learning in their Master of Science program for Environmental Conservation, where she will take a sustained connection to the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the people she has met through the Corps. Sam hopes to continue developing interdisciplinary skills to bridge the gap between conservation practitioners and scientists.

Gearing up for a controlled burn at Sideling Hill Creek preserve in western Maryland in November 2019. (Photo: Sev Smith/TNC).

The 2019-2020 class of the Chesapeake Conservation Corps graduated on August 13th, 2020 at a virtual ceremony, where Tamara Toles O’Laughlin the North American Director of gave an inspiring speech. The graduating class has members who are attending graduate school at the George Washington University, the University of North Carolina – Wilmington, and Yale University; working in other “corps” positions like AmeriCorps or TerraCorps; and working at organizations like the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Horizons Outdoor Learning Center, and ShoreRivers; to name a few.

The 2020-2021 class of the Chesapeake Conservation Corps had orientation on August 18th, 2020 at a virtual ceremony. To find out more about the new members and their host sites please see their member placements, here. The Chesapeake Bay Trust is also excited to announce the first Corps Alumni web page is now available here, showcasing 10 years of the program.

The Chesapeake Bay Trust thanks the 2020 – 2021 Corps program supporters, BGE an Exelon Company, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the National Parks Service Chesapeake Bay Office, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, American Chestnut Land Trust, Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks – Carrie Murray Nature Center, and Maryland Department of the Environment.

Working with Faith-Based Organizations to Implement Stormwater Solutions

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In 2015, Anacostia Riverkeeper received an award through the Prince George’s Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program to carry out their High-Volume Community Cistern project. This project had four primary objectives, which were to: 1) demonstrate the effectiveness of high-capacity cisterns, 2) reduce stormwater runoff, 3) engage and form relationships with faith-based organizations, and 4) encourage members of faith-based organizations to participate in Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate Program.

The objectives for this project aligned with the goals of the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship program, which strives to improve neighborhoods, improve water quality in the County’s waterways, and engage County residents in stormwater issues. Since 2014, Prince George’s County Department of the Environment has partnered with the Chesapeake Bay Trust to fund impactful projects that strive to accomplish these goals. The Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate Program is a second program funded by the County that incentivizes environmental stewardship by offering reimbursement to homeowners, businesses, and others for installing practices that will improve stormwater runoff quality, reduce runoff quantity, and improve local streams and rivers. This program operates on a rolling deadline and is currently accepting applications.

Anacostia Riverkeeper worked with First Baptist Church of Glenarden, St. Ambrose Catholic Church, and St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church. To connect with and engage members of each faith-based organization, Anacostia Riverkeeper conducted stormwater outreach events at each of the three locations where they planned to install a high-volume cistern. Five outreach events were conducted with the help of Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake. These outreach events were offered in English and Spanish, which increased accessibility and helped to draw in over 170 participants. The events covered stormwater runoff and offered potential solutions and actions that participants could take. Anacostia Riverkeeper also informed participants about the existing opportunity to apply to the Prince George’s Rain Check Rebate Program to install stormwater management practices at their own homes.

Educational signage placed at each cistern installation.

To directly address stormwater management needs, high-volume cisterns were installed on each of the faith-based organizations’ properties. Each cistern captures between 17,500 to 39,000 gallons of stormwater per year, which reduces the amount of stormwater runoff and pollution that flows into local streams and rivers, and allows the stormwater to be used for other purposes.

Congratulations to Anacostia Riverkeeper on a successful project that engaged community members and directly addressed stormwater management!


Welcoming the New Prince George’s Rain Check Rebate Program Team

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The Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate Program is a partnership between Prince George’s County Department of the Environment and the Chesapeake Bay Trust (Trust). This program offers incentives to homeowners, businesses, and others to install practices that will reduce stormwater runoff, reduce pollution, and improve the water quality of local streams and rivers.

At the beginning of this year, the Trust welcomed Nguyen Le as the new Rain Check Rebate Coordinator! Below is Nguyen’s background and experience thus far.

Can you tell us about yourself?

Nguyen Le, Rain Check Rebate Coordinator

I was born and raised in Maryland and my family is from Vietnam. For my undergraduate studies, I  attended the University of Maryland, College Park and earned a B.S. in Environmental Science and Policy with a minor in Sustainability Studies. After graduating, I served as a Chesapeake Conservation Corps member and worked at the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin conducting environmental and watershed education for students and teachers. I joined the Chesapeake Bay Trust in 2018 and now manage the Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate Program and co-manage the Outreach and Restoration Grant Program. More recently, I graduated from Virginia Tech’s Executive Master of Natural Resources program where I earned a Master of Natural Resources and Graduate Certificate in Global Sustainability.

What are your professional/environmental goals and how does managing the Rain Check Rebate Program align with those goals?

A major goal regarding the work I currently do and want to continue to do revolves around water. Water is a precious resource and necessity for life. Globally, billions of people in the world lack safe water, sanitation, and handwashing facilities. Additionally, ever-growing demands for and inefficient use and management of freshwater resources have resulted in severe water stress and increased pollution of our waterways. Water quality is one of the major challenges we face today.

Initiatives and programs like the Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate Program help address local and regional water quality issues. This program engages residents to take action for clean water. Participants in this program are helping to keep our rivers clean and reduce pollution for increased environmental and public health. Through this program, I can educate residents about water quality issues, what actions they can take, and how this program helps support clean water efforts in their community and the County as a whole.

What have you most enjoyed so far about your new role as the Rain Check Rebate Coordinator?

One of the most rewarding aspects of the Rain Check Rebate Program is being able to connect with the community and see residents take pride in their projects. It is wonderful to see residents excited about their project and express the impact that the project has had on their lives. Some appreciate the presence of new trees that will provide shade and privacy in their yards, some enjoy the butterflies that now frequent the native plants in their rain garden, and some are thankful that the standing and pooling water they experienced is a thing of the past.

What is your hope for the Rain Check Rebate Program moving forward?

My hope for this program is for all Prince George’s County residents to know that the Rain Check Rebate Program and other County resources are available for them to use and here to support them and their communities. I want every community member to know that they can make a difference in their communities and the environment.

What advice would you give to young people seeking careers in the environmental field?

Do not limit yourself and be open to learning and experiencing new things. The environmental field encompasses such a wide range of topics and there are so many different paths you can take. Be cognizant of your interests and the type of work you enjoy doing and find an organization or company whose mission and values align with yours.

Anything else you want to share?

Managing the Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate Program has been a rewarding experience. I am proud to support and work with the Prince George’s County Department of the Environment on their program to help advance their goal of improving the quality of life for its communities by promoting green solutions to stormwater runoff.

Meet the Rain Check Rebate Intern:

The Trust recently also welcomed Emma Cwalinski (pictured left), the summer programmatic intern who will be working as part of the Rain Check Rebate team. Emma is currently majoring in Environmental Science and Policy at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD), where she is entering into her junior year. Beyond her position as an intern for the Trust, Emma utilizes her passion for the environment as her sorority’s Sustainability Chair and as a Sustainable Transportation Assistant for UMD’s Department of Transportation. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career working directly with environmental policy. Emma is excited to learn more about the different programs the Trust offers during her time as an intern. Welcome to the team, Emma!

Thank you to both Nguyen and Emma for their hard work in managing and supporting the Rain Check Rebate Program! Prince George’s County residents are encouraged to learn more and apply to the program by visiting the program page here.

Chesapeake Conservation Corps Profile: Emma O’Donnell & Carrie Murray Nature Center

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Participating in the Chesapeake Conservation Corps (Corps) is a unique experience. We are showcasing the individual Conservation Corps members in the 2019-2020 cohort along with information on their host site and descriptions of the incredible work they are doing. This month’s featured Corps member: Emma O’Donnell.

Emma holding the Green Center Certificate

Emma O’Donnell considers herself a lifelong advocate for the environment, which is why she attended Washington College, known in the region for its immersive environmental programming. Emma graduated last spring majoring in Environmental Studies and double minoring in Anthropology and Chesapeake Regional Studies. Interning with the National Aquarium in Baltimore, The Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife, and The Delaware Center for Inland Bays, Emma became even more interested in the field as she worked her way through college. Emma was drawn to the Corps program because it provides invaluable experience to young adults and would allow her to work on leadership skills throughout the year.

Carrie Murray Nature Center (Nature Center), an entity of the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, is located inside of Gwynn’s Falls Leakin Park and is part of Baltimore City’s Division of Recreation and Parks. The park is the largest urban wilderness park east of the Mississippi and the third-largest in the United States serving over 30,000 visitors annually. The Nature Center was created through the generous donation of former Oriole’s hall-of-fame player Eddie Murray, dedicated to his mother, Carrie. The mission of the Nature Center is to ensure that all children can connect to nature through environmental education and leadership. While the programs at the park have changed this summer, the park is open as an escape from the big city for those looking to connect to nature. Thanks to Emma’s hard work, the Nature Center itself is now the first public entity in Baltimore City registered as a Maryland Green Center by the Maryland Association of Environmental & Outdoor Education (M.A.E.O.E).

Emma takes pride in her work with the center, serving as an environmental educator (naturalist). Prior to Covid-19, she facilitated programs like “Every Kid Outdoors” (EKO) which is a National Park initiative and “Aqua Partners” a field trip program in partnership with the National Aquarium and Maryland Public Television (MPT). These and many other programs are provided to assure children from Baltimore City have an opportunity to discover nature every day. Assisting in the daily maintenance of the animals housed at the facility is another part of her job. The Nature Center is home to 19 rescued and rehabilitated animals that broaden the environmental education experiences visiting students receive and are often a highlight for those who are passionate about animals.

Emma Teaching Students about Macroinvertebrates

As her capstone project, Emma took the lead on completing the M.A.E.O.E. Green Center Application for the year 2020. Emma will continue work removing invasive species solo as part of her capstone, which had to be modified due to public safety restrictions. The certification recognizes facilities that demonstrate overall sustainability efforts, exhibit best management practices in daily operation, offer effective environmental education and professional development to all appropriate age groups, and uphold overall sustainable ideals for themselves and their staff. Currently there only 42 Certified Green Centers in the region. Nature Center staff are committed to sustaining such practices for the betterment of our environment, future generations, and Baltimore City.

Emma said she is thankful to be included in so many fantastic initiatives and embraced by the staff of the Nature Center who are constantly helping her evolve to become a better employee, environmentalist, and citizen. She also stated that serving as a Corps member has heightened her passion for the Chesapeake Region and she feels fortunate to work alongside other corps members. Emma looks forward to nurturing all the relationships that she has built in the program as she knows they will aid in her personal growth and professional opportunities. The current Corps class is set to graduate in August, although the ceremony may not be in person as usual.


Celebrating an Environmental Champion: Walkiria Pool

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Walkiria Pool, President of the non-profit organization Centro de Apoyo Familiar (CAF) located in Riverdale, was recently named one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women by The Daily Record! The Maryland’s Top 100 Women award recognizes high-achieving women who live or work in Maryland and are actively making a difference in their surrounding neighborhoods and networks. All winners are chosen by a panel of past Top 100 Women business leaders. Walkiria’s dedication to community service and her demonstration of strong leadership skills were no doubt a determining factor in her earning this high recognition!

Walkiria founded CAF in 2006, with the vision of transforming underserved communities through direct involvement and strong partnerships with faith-based organizations. CAF connects communities to a broad range of services, from affordable housing to environmental health. As President of CAF, Walkiria has been passionate about involving Latino communities in the efforts to protect our natural resources and become better stewards of our environment. In 2016 and 2017, CAF was awarded projects through the Prince George’s County Stormwater Stewardship Grant Program to support and implement their Aguas Sana-Familias Sanas/Healthy Waters: Healthy Families program. This program used a train-the-trainer model to train and equip Latina promotoras (community health educators) as stormwater educators, who then held educational workshops at local faith-based organizations. Over 300 Prince George’s County families were collectively reached through both of the awards to CAF. The families that participated were able to learn about the connections between human and environmental health and were provided resources to improve their natural resources and build healthier communities.

Congratulations on this recognition, Walkiria! We appreciate all you do and look forward to continuing to work with you!

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