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Chesapeake Conservation Corps Graduate Spotlight- Kristina Soetje

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On August 17th 33 members, from 28 host sites, graduated from the Chesapeake Conservation Corps (Corps) Program and the Chesapeake Bay Trust welcomed the 12th class of the Corps, with 33 new members assigned to 26 host sites. Created by the Maryland General Assembly in 2010, the Corps provides career and leadership training for young people interested in environmental careers. The insights gained from graduating corps members can shape the potential for environmental science and industry in the future. We are pleased to share Kristina’s (Pictured above repairing beaver baffles  to restore stream flow) experience here:

Kristina was a toddler when her family moved to Maryland from Long Island, New York. School field trips to the National Aquarium and the Chesapeake Bay, outdoor education programs, adventures with friends around the watershed, and her grandmother’s environmentalism strengthened her love for the natural world. She attended the University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a dual-degree student where she studied environmental science and geography, visual arts with the animation concentration, and dance. She interned at Ladew Topiary Gardens and the National Aquarium. Maura Duffy, her National Aquarium colleague (who was in the 5th class of the Corps), was the first Chesapeake Conservation Corps alumna to recommend the program to her.

Kristina standing between her former National Aquarium supervisor Charmaine Dahlenburg (left) and CCC supervisor/mentor Deborah Landau (right) at Nassawango Creek Preserve. (Photo: Deborah Landau/TNC)

After she graduated from UMBC in May 2019, Kristina cycled across the United States from Baltimore to San Francisco to raise awareness of young adult cancer for the Ulman Foundation. Upon returning to Maryland that August, she interned at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation under Carmera Thomas-Wilhite (who was in the 1st class of the corps in 2010), the second Corps alumna to recommend the program. Inspired by Duffy and Thomas-Wilhite, Kristina researched the Corps further and applied for a spot in the 2020-2021 Cohort.

She was thrilled to be matched with The Nature Conservancy’s Maryland/DC Chapter for her service year. “I was impressed by the variety and scale of the work that they undertake to make impactful science-informed decisions across Maryland” Kristina explained. “I was excited for all the professional development opportunities proposed to me. I recognized that by being placed with TNC MD/DC, I would be surrounded by incredible and inspiring colleagues, experts dedicated to their respective disciplines in the conservation field.”

The Nature Conservancy, a global non-profit organization, impacts over 70 countries and territories and all 50 U.S. states with science-based conservation efforts. Their mission is to “conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends”. Kristina’s well-rounded Corps Work Plan contributed to this mission for TNC MD/DC. Highlights included researching forest health and resilience in Maryland through rare plant surveys and forest restoration project site monitoring. She wrote a white paper discussing how herbicide treatments with prescribed burns could remove invasive Phragmites australis barriers to facilitate marsh migration. She led trail maintenance events in western Maryland. Additionally, Kristina reunited with the National Aquarium team for an Atlantic white cedar and bald cypress planting event on the Eastern Shore. She appreciates that she explored many unique and beautiful ecosystems state-wide for work; TNC MD/DC owns and protects around 30 preserves.

Nailing a trail sign to a tree during her trail maintenance site visit at Sideling Hill Creek
Preserve. (Photo: Michael Sioson/CCC)

Kristina’s favorite component of her term was becoming a Certified Wildland Firefighter Type II. “I was fortunate to serve as a crew member on eight prescribed burns encompassing nearly 2,000 acres of TNC and partner lands.” One burn was filmed by CBS and broadcast as a news story in April 2021, reaching over five million people nation-wide.

She even incorporated prescribed burns into her Corps Capstone Project. Kristina researched how different variables behind TNC MD/DC’s prescribed burns impact the production of pyrogenic carbon, a stable carbon sequestering and soil fertilizing material, within the soils of Nassawango Creek Preserve. The project became an international collaboration with Swansea University researchers, who assisted Kristina with sample design feedback and laboratory soil tests. Results showed that pyrogenic carbon production occurs primarily in areas with a multi-burn history. Soil moisture does not impact production of the material at the preserve, so wetland and dune habitats hold similar quantities of pyrogenic carbon if they are experiencing the same burn regime. Kristina’s Capstone prioritized soil science for TNC MD/DC and further justified their prescribed burns. Interest is growing towards publishing her study into a scientific journal.

Kristina believes the most important aspect of her Corps year was her ability to form valuable connections with others despite the ongoing pandemic. She enjoyed moments she shared with other Corps members through over 10 Site Visits and 3 All Hands on Deck events, where she learned about their work and Host Organizations. She networked with TNC MD/DC partners including scientists from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife burn crews, and university professors. Kristina bonded with her TNC MD/DC colleagues and absorbed the valuable lessons they taught her, a favorite being to appreciate the little things in life despite the circumstances of the bigger picture. She is thankful for her close mentorship with Deborah Landau, the Conservation Ecologist for TNC MD/DC, whom Kristina says was “inspiring, honest, and supportive of me professionally and personally.”

Kristina graduated as part of the 33 from the 11th class and looks forward to her immediate post-Corps plans. She was hired by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources as their Volunteer Coordinator for Patapsco Valley State Park. She will match volunteers with opportunities to serve the park, coordinate their trainings, oversee their stewardship projects, design volunteer newsletters, and more. “I find significant value in connecting communities to the lands and waters they care for through volunteerism and environmental stewardship, so I am excited to express this through my work with the Maryland Park Service.” As a volunteer herself, Kristina will stay active with TNC MD/DC by continuing to serve as a prescribed burn crew member.

Having fun with ignition duties as a certified Wildland Firefighter Type II at Sideling Hill Creek Preserve. (Photo: Matt Kane/TNC)

Flagging red spruce seedlings at Cranesville Swamp Preserve to inventory their populations
and monitor their growth rates with Forest Science Project Manager Pabodha Galgamuwa. (Photo:
William Weems/TNC)

Chesapeake Conservation Corps Members in Prince George’s County

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On August 17, 2021, the Chesapeake Bay Trust welcomed the newest cohort of Chesapeake Conservation Corps members and celebrated graduating members. The Chesapeake Conservation Corps program aims to invest in young people, provide valuable job skills training, and promote a green economy. The program matches young people ages 18-25 with non-profit and government organizations for one-year stipend-supported terms of service, focused on improving local communities and protecting natural resources.

This year, 33 new Corps members were placed with 31 host organizations throughout the state of Maryland, as well as a host site in Pennsylvania. During their year of service, Corps members will work with their host organizations to gain valuable on-the-job experience as they work to advance environmental conservation, K-12 education, energy efficiency programs, sustainable agriculture practices, and a host of other environmentally focused initiatives.

Five of the incoming Corps members will be working with Prince George’s County-based organizations located in Accokeek, Brandywine, Edmonston, Laurel, and Riverdale. Learn more below about the exciting work the Corps members will take on in the coming year!

Kathryn Burcham, Prince George’s County Public Schools, William S. Schmidt Outdoor Education Center
Brandywine
Kathryn will serve her year at The Schmidt Center leading students and teachers to implement environmental lessons, conduct field restoration projects, practice animal care, facilitate team building, and assist with professional development opportunities for teachers. Prior to joining the Corps, Kathryn graduated from St. Mary’s College of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. Kathryn is looking forward to building meaningful connections and gaining new experiences through the Corps.

Andrew Rapp, U.S. Geological Survey: Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Laurel
Andrew will serve his year with the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and will focus on monitoring a variety of avian species on Poplar Island and as well as method development (unmanned aircraft systems and thermal imaging). Andrew recently graduated from the College of William and Mary with a double major in Biology and Environmental Science & Policy. Andrew spent his summer as a first mate on a fishing boat off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina to learn about seabirds, marine mammals, and fisheries.

Jack Ruszkowski, Accokeek Foundation
Accokeek
During his year Jack will work as the Pasture Restoration Specialist with the Accokeek Foundation. Jack will spend time sampling and identifying native and invasive plant species within livestock pastures, mapping plant species sampled using ArcGIS, and developing and implementing an integrated livestock plan for invasive species management and pasture restoration. Jack is a recent graduate from the College of William and Mary with a degree in Anthropology. He has an interest in agriculture and forestry projects, particularly those relating to soil health and sustainable agriculture.

Bethany Sims, Town of Edmonston
Edmonston
Bethany will spend her year with the Town of Edmonston where she will focus on community engagement and education programs for the residents of Edmonston. She will also be involved with development of environmental policy for the Town and will work with the urban forestry and energy programs. Bethany has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and a minor in Political Studies from Towson University. She is driven by the need to protect vulnerable animals and preserve their habitat. In her free time, Bethany loves painting and drawing scenes.

Sally Watanabe, ECO City Farms
Riverdale
Sally will spend her year in the Corps with ECO City Farms. She will cultivate sustainably grown food year-round; turn local food waste into rich compost; educate local youth and families about food, health, and the environment; engage in hands-on trainings and permaculture projects on the farm; and be involved in outreach and community organizing for urban farming/environmental restoration. Sally recently graduated from the University of Richmond with a degree in Psychology. She is passionate about sustainability, social justice, and nurturing the relationship between people and nature/animals. Other passions of Sally include music, anything outdoors, yoga, painting, and exploring spirituality.

Congratulations to the incoming 2021-2022 cohort and the graduated alumni! Learn more about this year’s full cohort here.

2021-2022 Chesapeake Conservation Corps Class Announced

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2021-2022 Chesapeake Conservation Corps Class Announced

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Contact: Jana Davis, 410-974-2941 ext. 100, jdavis@cbtrust.org

(Annapolis, MD) August 17, 2021– Today the Chesapeake Bay Trust, funded by the Maryland Chesapeake vehicle license plate among other sources, introduced the newest class of its Chesapeake Conservation Corps members. This program was created by the late Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr., and others in the Maryland General Assembly to invest in the state’s young people, provide valuable job skills training, and promote the green economy in Maryland. The program matches young people ages 18-25 with non-profit and government organizations for one-year stipend-supported terms of service, focused on improving local communities and protecting natural resources. The Chesapeake Bay Trust administers the program.

“We need all hands on deck to protect the Chesapeake Bay and preserve this national treasure for generations to come. The Chesapeake Conservation Corps program, created by my good friend Senate President Mike Miller, is key to launching the next generation of Maryland leaders through environmental workforce development and creating pathways to good-paying green jobs. Today we celebrate this new class of young leaders ready to take action by working to protect our environment. This program is central to our efforts to maintain a healthy Bay and a strong Maryland economy, and I know the work of these leaders will help continue to carry out Mike’s legacy of environmental stewardship,” said Senator Van Hollen.

Since the program began in 2010 with an inaugural class of 16 members, the Corps has increased in size due to its popularity among young people pursing environmental interests and the organizations that host Corps members each year. The Corps has become a premier launching pad for green careers and a reliable resource for environmentally focused organizations who are recruiting the next generation of environmental professionals. Close to 300 alums have become both leaders in the environmental movement as well as, just as importantly, engaged individuals bringing a stewardship ethic to non-environmental careers. Many of them are hired by their host organizations following their years of service.

“The Chesapeake Conservation Corps program is such a fantastic way for young people to start their careers,” said Senator Sarah Elfreth, who has been appointed by the Maryland Senate President to serve on the Corps Advisory Board. “We in the General Assembly cannot wait to see what these Corps members accomplish this year and beyond.”

Today, 33 Corps members met virtually their 31 host organizations to learn more about their job responsibilities for the upcoming year. During their year of service, Corps members will gain valuable on-the-job experience as they work to advance environmental conservation, K-12 education, energy efficiency programs, sustainable agriculture practices, and a host of other environmentally focused initiatives.

Funds for the program are provided by the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. National Park Service, and Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE), among others.

“BGE is very proud to support the Chesapeake Conservation Corps Program. Not only does the program prepare our youth with heightened awareness and skills to conserve our natural resources and protect the environment, but it develops our local workforce in a meaningful and unique way. At BGE, we believe that cultivating a talented, diverse workforce that can serve the state’s needs is critical, and this program has successfully prepared hundreds of new members of our workforce over its 12-year history” said Alex Núñez, senior vice president of BGE’s Strategy and Regulatory Affairs and Chesapeake Bay Trust Trustee.

During the year, Corps participants work directly with their host organizations while also receiving extensive job trainings hosted by the Trust as well as other service-learning opportunities including grant writing and project management.

“One aspect I love about this program is that not only does it create life-changing experiences for the Corps members, but it can really help the host organizations’ abilities to accomplish their missions,” said Dr. Jana Davis, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust. “We have a wide range of not-for-profits who benefit, from small to large, and those with primarily environmental missions as well as those without.”

Of the 33 selected participants, 12 will work in Anne Arundel County, 6 in Baltimore City, 5 in Prince George’s County, 5 in Howard County, 2 in Calvert County; and 1 each in Montgomery County, Worcester County, and Pennsylvania.

About the Chesapeake Bay Trust
The Chesapeake Bay Trust (www.cbtrust.org) is a nonprofit grant-making organization established by the Maryland General Assembly dedicated to improving the natural resources of the Chesapeake region through environmental education, community engagement, and local watershed restoration. The Trust’s grantees engage hundreds of thousands of individuals annually in projects that have a measurable impact on the waterways and other natural resources of the region. The Trust is supported by the sale of the Maryland Treasure the Chesapeake license plate; donations to the Chesapeake Bay and Endangered Species Fund on the Maryland State income tax form; donations made by hunters, fishers, and boaters in the Maryland online natural resource licensing system; donations from individuals and corporations; and partnerships with private foundations and federal, state, and local governments that enable grant-making watershed-wide. The Trust has received the highest rating from Charity Navigator for over two decades: On average, 90% of the Trust’s expenditures are directed to its restoration and education programs.

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Chesapeake Conservation Corps 2021-2022 Corps Member Placements

Allyson Bartell, Maryland Department of Natural Resources: Resource Assessment Service

Annapolis, Anne Arundel County

Allyson “Ally” will serve her year at Maryland Department of Natural Resources, where she will assist in measuring stream and storm flow and conducting geomorphological surveys, as well as water quality data collection and analysis. She will also compile stream restoration monitoring data and interpret results which will be shared with many audiences. Ally is a recent graduate from Johns Hopkins University where she earned a B.S. in Environmental Science. Ally’s favorite classes included sustainable food systems, Inca art history, and environmental anthropology; in her free time, you can find her hiking, gardening, and reading.

Jack Beckham, Severn River Association

Annapolis, Anne Arundel County

Jack is coming from Boston College to join the Corps. He recently graduated with a degree in Environmental Studies and a minor in Hispanic Studies. Jack previously interned at Resources Environmental Services and is a big runner and outdoors enthusiast. During his Corps year Jack will assist with weekly water quality monitoring, and an on-the-water Floating Classroom educational program. Jack will also coordinate volunteers on a variety of monitoring activities, develop watershed assessments of the Severn River and obtain a Maryland Boating License.

Clara Brill-Carlat, American Chestnut Land Trust

Prince Frederick, Calvert County

During her placement at American Chestnut Land Trust Clara will focus on science and restoration. She will work with and lead volunteer groups in various land management activities including invasive species removal, meadow establishment, hiking trail maintenance, property monitoring, and forest and wildlife diversity surveys. Clara recently graduated from Smith College with a degree in geology. She is a native Baltimorean and is excited to contribute to the conservation of Maryland’s natural resources. In her free time, she likes to go on long walks and write limericks.

Kathryn Burcham, Prince George’s County Public Schools, William S. Schmidt Outdoor Education Center

Brandywine, Prince George’s County

Kathryn will serve her year at The Schmidt Center leading students and teachers to implement environmental lessons, conduct field restoration projects, practice animal care, facilitate team building, and assist with professional development opportunities for teachers. Prior to joining the Corps, Kathryn graduated from St. Mary’s College of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. Kathryn is looking forward to building meaningful connections and gaining new experiences through the Corps.

Lucy Burnam, The Community Ecology Institute

Columbia, Howard County

Lucy recently graduated from the University of Mississippi with a degree in Journalism and a focus on photography, videography, and marketing. Lucy spent the summer in Hawaii on a sustainable coffee farm learning about their process, and how to harvest pineapples, mangos, cacao, and ice cream beans. During her Corps year Lucy will assist at the Institute’s new urban organic farm tending the farm and gardens using regenerative agriculture principles and will be coordinating among the local community organizations.

Selina Cheng, Maryland Department of Natural Resources: Resource Assessment Service

Annapolis, Anne Arundel County

During her year in the Corps Selina will support the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ freshwater mussel restoration project by conducting field surveys, producing and culturing mussels in a hatchery, collecting data, conducting feasibility studies, and developing new outreach material to highlight conservation efforts. Selina will be moving back east from Alaska to join the Corps; in Alaska, she assisted with long-term monitoring of Arctic lakes. Selina attended the University of Virginia where she recently received a dual degree in Environmental Science and English.

Joshua Cohen, Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake

Annapolis, Anne Arundel County

Joshua is a recent graduate from Washington College where he earned a degree in Environmental Science and minored in Chesapeake Regional Studies and Music. He has spent time this year working in Arizona at a nature center, with Habitat for Humanity in North Carolina, and at outdoor conference centers in Kansas, on top of helping with the vaccination effort in Albany. This year he will lead online and in-person educational events and coordinate volunteer involvement in restoration projects for Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake (IPC). Joshua will also help coordinate IPC’s One Water Partnership.

Virginia Davis, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Patuxent Research Refuge

Laurel, Anne Arundel County

Virginia “Genny” grew up in Richmond, Virginia and attended school at Warren Wilson College where she majored in Environmental Studies and minored in Environmental Policy. Genny says that growing up in the Chesapeake Bay watershed has shaped her love of the outdoors and that she is excited to begin to explore Maryland. While at the Patuxent Research Refuge Genny will work on partnership development and environmental education in the urban corridor between Baltimore and Washington, DC. She will also work to foster meaningful adoption by the Refuge of best practices for urban engagement under four Critical Engagement Elements in the Urban Wildlife Conservation Program Strategic Plan (Community-focused, Intentional, Inclusive, Collaborative).

Laura Exar, Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks, Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary

Lothian, Anne Arundel County

Laura will work with Jug Bay in creating a sensory garden, supporting invasive species control efforts, designing and conducting a community science herpetological survey, and promoting outdoor environmental education through classrooms in the field. Laura recently graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park where she studied Environmental Science and Policy with a concentration in Marine and Coastal Management and a minor in Sustainability Studies. She hopes to go on to pursue a Master’s in marine and estuarine science. Prior to the Corps, she worked at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

Avery Farrell, Howard County Office of Community Sustainability

Ellicott City, Howard County

Avery “Ave”, who majored in Geography and Environmental Science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, hopes to gain knowledge about climate change mitigation during her time in the Corps. She likes to walk/hike, crochet, create YouTube videos and in the spring and summer watch thunderstorms. While at Howard County’s Office of Community Sustainability for her year with the Corps, Ave will work to engage county employees, businesses, and residents in saving energy, reducing litter, and combatting climate change.

Christy Ferguson, The Community Ecology Institute

Columbia, Howard County

Christy graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County with a major in Environmental Science and Geography. Christy spent the summer learning about environmental education programs, restoration monitoring, wildlife surveys, and water quality monitoring with the Maryland Coastal Bays Program. This year Christy will support the Institute’s educational programming at the intersections of environment, health, and equity and will coordinate garden installations at several community locations.

Quinae West, Towson University (Center for STEM Excellence)

Baltimore City

Quinae was recently married and is a proud mom. She is currently working on her associate degree from Harford Community College. She has a passion for environmental science and has particular interest in learning about habitat restoration, sustainability, and marine conservation. During her time with Towson University’s Center for STEM Excellence, Quinae will develop activities and facilitate programs designed to foster a sense of stewardship of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland’s K-12 students.

Jacob Honn, National Aquarium

Baltimore City

During the course of Jacob’s year, he will assist with the Aquarium’s activities and programs designed to stop plastic pollution, combat climate change, save wildlife, and restore habitats. Jacob graduated from Earlham College in Indiana with a degree in biology and even spent a semester abroad in New Zealand. He spent the last year managing Maryland Environmental Trust’s volunteer easement monitoring program. He has recently gotten into mycology, birding, and gardening and spends a lot of time outdoors.

Mary Hoover, American Chestnut Land Trust

Prince Frederick, Calvert County

Mary will assist with the American Chestnut Land Trust’s one-acre sustainable agriculture farm as farm manager and will support farm-related community outreach. She will also participate in the Maryland Master Naturalist program. Mary was born and raised in Omaha Nebraska and will be joining the Corps following a summer working on an organic strawberry farm in Vermont. She is a recent graduate from Creighton University where she earned a degree in Environmental Science and minored in Sustainability Studies and Spanish. In her free time, Mary likes hiking, thrifting, playing soccer and tennis, and hanging out with her cat.

Kathryn Kavanagh, Maryland Coastal Bays Program

Berlin, Worcester County

Kathryn “Katie” will work with the science and restoration staff on water quality monitoring, oyster gardening, wetland monitoring, anadromous fish sampling, and restoration project construction. She will also work in education designing and leading meaningful educational programs, field excursions, and activities in and around the watershed. Katie graduated from Lafayette College in PA with a dual degree in Environmental Science and International Affairs. She loves working with kids and has a background in environmental education. Mary is working at Schuylkill Center in Philadelphia this summer.

Spencer Kessinger, Robinson Nature Center

Columbia, Howard County

Spencer will serve her year at Robinson Nature Center where she will learn to teach educational programs to people of all ages, take care of a live animal collection, and learn about all the behind the scenes work that makes a large nature center run smoothly. Spencer is a recent graduate from St. Mary’s College of Maryland with a degree in Environmental Studies and minors in Biology and Education. Spencer likes walking/hiking, snuggling with her dogs, kayaking, and learning about pollinators.

James Looper, U.S. National Park Service Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine

Baltimore City

At the National Park Service James “Jimmy” will be researching Chesapeake Bay climate change data, creating and implementing an interpretative program related to climate change, analyzing Trail GIS data and creating maps; and participating in outreach events. Jimmy graduated from Washington College with a double major in Environmental Studies and Anthropology and has formerly worked at the National Aquarium in Baltimore and with NOAA in the Pacific Northwest.

Amelia Lowe, Chesapeake Conservancy

Annapolis, Anne Arundel County

During her year of service Amelia will be a key member of the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership dedicated to meeting the Bay Program’s land conservation goals and new goals to conserve 30% of lands in the watershed by 2030. She will learn and contribute to many cutting-edge policies and programs. Amelia is a recent graduate from the College of William and Mary where she double majored in Environmental Science & Policy and History. Her career interests include sustainable urban development, science communication, and corporate sustainability. On Sunday mornings you can find her at the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market.

Lorenzo Mack-Johnson, Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore

Baltimore City

During Lorenzo’s year in the Corps he will learn about local clean water issues, engage diverse public audiences, and conduct field work at the waterfront and in East Baltimore neighborhoods through the Waterfront Partnership’s Healthy Harbors Initiative. Lorenzo is completing his bachelor’s degree in Environmental Sustainability from the University of Baltimore. He is working to become a Maryland Master Naturalist and is excited about the community engagement and oyster restoration work he will be involved in.

Declan Murphy, Howard County Conservancy

Woodstock, Howard County

Declan will plan and execute environmental program activities for K-12 school programs, a summer nature camp, and the Conservancy’s brand-new nature preschool. Additionally, he will oversee daily care and educational presentations of nature center animals including the barred owl, eastern black rat snake, terrapin, chickens, and goats. Declan recently graduated from Swarthmore College with a degree in Environmental Studies and Biology. This summer, Declan is collecting data on Philadelphia’s new plastic bag ban.

Julissa Murrieta, The Nature Conservancy

Bethesda, Montgomery County
Julie graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a degree in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Ecology and Evolution and a minor in Sustainability Studies. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading, embroidery, puzzling, and snuggling with her cat. For her year with the Corps, Julissa’s work will range from researching forest health and resilience in the Central Appalachians to blue carbon and coastal resiliency on the Eastern Shore. She will even learn how to execute controlled burning.

Christopher Orozco-Fletcher, U.S. National Park Service Chesapeake Bay

Annapolis, Anne Arundel County

During his placement with the National Park Service, Christopher will staff the “Chesapeake Roving Ranger” mobile interpretive vehicle and will develop and conduct interpretive outreach and educational programming to promote the understanding and stewardship of the cultural, natural, recreational, and historic resources of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Christopher is a recent college graduate from Earlham College in Indiana where he studied Environmental Sustainability with a focus in Resource Conservation. Christopher is a proud Eagle Scout and enjoys contra dancing, drawing, hiking, ultimate frisbee, biking, and traveling.

Pamela Pina, Maryland Environmental Service

Millersville, Anne Arundel County

During her year of service Pamela will work with the Geospatial and Engineering Service’s division at Maryland Environmental Service and learn how GIS can be utilized in a multitude of situations for planning, implementing, and evaluating stormwater projects throughout the State. Pamela is a graduate from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County with a degree in Environmental Science and Geography. She has previously done work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and enjoys walking and playing with her puppy in her free time.

Andrew Rapp, U.S. Geological Survey: Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

Laurel, Prince George’s County

Andrew will serve his year with the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and will focus on monitoring a variety of avian species on Poplar Island and as well as method development (unmanned aircraft systems and thermal imaging). Andrew recently graduated from the College of William and Mary with a double major in Biology and Environmental Science & Policy. Andrew spent his summer as a first mate on a fishing boat off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina to learn about seabirds, marine mammals, and fisheries.

Jack Ruszkowski, Accokeek Foundation

Accokeek, Prince George’s County

During his year Jack will work as the Pasture Restoration Specialist with the Accokeek Foundation. Jack will spend time sampling and identifying native and invasive plant species within livestock pastures, mapping plant species sampled using ArcGIS, and developing and implementing an integrated livestock plan for invasive species management and pasture restoration. Jack is a recent graduate from the College of William and Mary with a degree in Anthropology. He has an interest in agriculture and forestry projects, particularly those relating to soil health and sustainable agriculture.

Bethany Sims, Town of Edmonston

Edmonston, Prince George’s County

Bethany will spend her year with the Town of Edmonston where she will focus on community engagement and education programs for the residents of Edmonston. She will also be involved with development of environmental policy for the Town and will work with the urban forestry and energy programs. Bethany has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and a minor in Political Studies from Towson University. She is driven by the need to protect vulnerable animals and preserve their habitat. In her free time, Bethany loves painting and drawing scenes.

Caroline Spiccioli, Maryland Department of the Environment

Baltimore City

During her year in the Corps Caroline will work with the Maryland Department of the Environment non-point source watershed planning program to develop or update watershed plans that meet EPA requirements. Caroline has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from The University of Vermont in Burlington Vermont. Caroline is interested in climate resilience and hopes to influence the way urban communities’ function to incorporate climate and environmental justice policies.

Samina Soin-Voshell, Maryland Department of Natural Resources: Chesapeake Bay Natural Estuarine Research Reserve

Annapolis, Anne Arundel County

Working with the Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve this year, Samina will build estuarine and environmental literacy through programs with teachers, students, and communities that will connect them to the Bay and move them to take action toward its protection and restoration. Samina graduated from Washington College with a dual degree in Environmental Science and Biology with a minor in Chesapeake Regional Studies.

Shannon Thomas, Chesapeake Conservancy

Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania

Shannon will work with the Chesapeake Conservancy at Susquehanna University during her year with the Corps, where she will grow a new program using the latest innovations in riparian forest buffer science to improve creeks and streams. She will also train students and partners to use geospatial data to identify where restoration will make the biggest water quality impacts. Shannon recently graduated from Washington College with a degree in Environmental Science and minors in Chesapeake Bay Regional Studies and Chemistry.

Devin Valcich, U.S. National Park Service Chesapeake Bay

Annapolis, Anne Arundel County

Devin earned her bachelor’s degree from Washington College in Environmental Studies and a minor in Chesapeake Regional Studies. She was able to study abroad during college in Ireland, Belize, and Guatemala. Throughout the next year Devin will staff the “Chesapeake Roving Ranger” mobile interpretive vehicle and will develop and conduct interpretive outreach and educational programming to promote the understanding and stewardship of the cultural, natural, recreational, and historic resources of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Sally Watanabe, ECO City Farms

Riverdale, Prince George’s County

Sally will spend her year in the Corps with ECO City Farms. She will cultivate sustainably grown food year-round; turn local food waste into rich compost; educate local youth and families about food, health, and the environment; engage in hands-on trainings and permaculture projects on the farm; and be involved in outreach and community organizing for urban farming/environmental restoration. Sally recently graduated from the University of Richmond with a degree in Psychology. She is passionate about sustainability, social justice, and nurturing the relationship between people and nature/animals. Other passions of Sally include music, anything outdoors, yoga, painting, and exploring spirituality.

Lexi Watson, Maryland Department of the Environment

Baltimore City

Lexi recently graduated from Old Dominion University in Norfolk Virginia with a degree in Marine Biology and a minor in Conservation Leadership. Over the summer, Lexi is working with the Kiawah Conservancy in South Carolina. In her free time, she likes hiking/ camping, surfing/ paddle boarding, snorkeling, reading, and dancing. This year with the Maryland Department of the Environment, Lexi will build off a previous Corps Member’s data collection and analysis of living shorelines by compiling the data into a GIS format that can be linked to a GIS data layer (for mapping). She will also expand data collection and analysis of living shoreline projects that impacted submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) and evaluate the long-term impacts on SAV. Finally, Lexi will evaluate the impacts of home values related to living shoreline vs. hardened shoreline installation.

Rylee Wernoch, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Edgewater, Anne Arundel County

During her year at The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), Rylee will work to understand the interests of local stakeholder and community organizations and identify areas of overlap between those needs and SERC’s scientific expertise. Rylee will work with SERC researchers and public engagement staff to plan and develop community-scientist partnerships and will gain experience with public engagement in science, science communication, and project development. Rylee recently graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges with degrees in Biology and Environmental Studies and a minor in Africana Studies. Rylee is interested in scientific communication, environmental justice and marine conservation and is spending the summer as a head instructor of a junior sailing program.

Maryland’s Underserved Urban Communities are About to Receive Much Needed Support for Greening

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Chesapeake Bay Trust LogoFor Immediate Release: June 7, 2021 

Contact: Cynamon Butler, Marketing and Communications Manager at Chesapeake Bay Trust,

(410) 974-2941 ext. 114, cbutler@cbtrust.org.

 

Maryland’s Underserved Urban Communities are About to Receive Much Needed Support for Greening

Annapolis, Maryland – Trees in all communities, but particularly urban communities, have significant benefits to health, climate, the economy, and the environment, yet some of Maryland’s urban communities are lagging on tree canopy goals.  Maryland’s General Assembly passed the Tree Solutions Now Act of 2021 to attempt to remedy this inequity, calling for 5 million trees to be planted over an eight-year period, with 500,000 of them targeted to urban, underserved areas.   The Chesapeake Bay Trust (the Trust) was identified as the administrator of the urban tree component, building on its 35-year history of distributing urban greening resources to communities across Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  Ten million dollars per year over 8 years will be distributed by the Trust to communities, neighborhoods, civic groups, schools, and others who commit to planting trees in underserved regions as defined in the legislation.  This includes urban areas with low median household income levels, high unemployment, and neighborhoods with housing projects or that were historically red-lined.

Original bills including the urban tree program were sponsored by Senator Paul Pinsky in the Senate and Delegates Dana Stein and Tony Bridges in the House, with the final vehicle for the program, a bill sponsored by Delegate Jim Gilchrist and supported by Senator Sarah Elfreth.

“Greening our urban communities and, particularly, long under-served communities is imperative for both their health and, more broadly, the environment.  It is long overdue,” said Senator Pinsky.

“Trees and forests are one of the best solutions we have to the climate crisis.  They sequester lots of carbon dioxide, reduce the heat island effect, and provide many other environmental co-benefits,” added Delegate Dana Stein.

Studies show that urban communities with greater tree cover offer residents lower crime rates, better air quality, better physical and mental human health, and reduced energy costs; offer commercial districts economic advantages; and offer the environment carbon storage to combat climate change and water uptake to filter stormwater.

“This is an exciting time for Maryland as communities who have historically been negatively impacted by less than favorable environmental conditions will be at the forefront of positive environmental change,” said Delegate Bridges.

“This program will lift up so many of Maryland’s communities.  I am happy Maryland is embarking on this adventure,” added Delegate Gilchrist.

“We have a duty to protect the environment for future generations,” according to Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo.  “Protecting the environment in Maryland’s urban communities through the Urban Tree program will help clean our air, manage our storm water, and inspire positive change for generations to come.”

Many sectors and constituents worked together with members of the General Assembly to bring the 5 million tree goal to fruition, including the hard work of climate, environmental, and community groups.

“We need to make sure that everyone has access to the health benefits of green spaces, especially our urban communities,” said Senator Arthur Ellis.

“It is time for environmental concerns in urban communities to be prioritized,” added Delegate Darryl Barnes, Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland.  “I am glad the Urban Tree Program is ensuring that our urban communities will see the benefits of improved water quality and reduced pollution.

“Underserved—and under-treed—urban communities exist in many areas of our State,” said Senator Elfreth. “I am honored to have joined in the many groups across our region who supported this effort to bring trees to so many neighborhoods.”

“Trees are great natural filters of our air and water,” said Chesapeake Bay Foundation Maryland Executive Director Josh Kurtz. “Adding more of them to our cities and towns will help reduce stormwater, urban heat islands, and provide habitat to wildlife. We were pleased when the bill passed and are even more excited to get these trees planted. These 500,000 trees will help clean the Chesapeake Bay and beautify our urban communities.”

Administering funding for tree planting initiatives is not new to the Trust.  Many are most familiar with the Treasure the Chesapeake vehicle license plate, which supplies many of the funds the Trust administers through community-based grant-making for tree planting initiatives.  The Trust additionally administers funds for others who want to engage local not-for-profit groups in greening activities, such as municipalities (e.g., the cities of Salisbury and Gaithersburg), counties (e.g., Baltimore City, Anne Arundel, Montgomery, Prince George’s, Howard, Harford, and more), state and federal agencies, and corporate and private foundations.  With all the Trust’s partners, the Trust has administered close to 300 tree planting grants in the past five years, 30% of them in urban areas, planting over 140,000 trees (20,000 in urban areas) and engaging over 60,000 community members.

“It is an honor that the Trust was named to administer the funds for the program and we are thankful to everybody who helped to make the Urban Trees Program a reality.” said Jana Davis, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

Grants through this new program will become available in the summer of 2022, with the time between now and then spent on listening to members of diverse groups from diverse backgrounds to structure the opportunity.  Developing relationships with the communities being impacted and their individuals, organizations, and businesses is imperative to support long-term sustainable tree-planting projects that are well-maintained and welcomed by communities.

 

About the Chesapeake Bay Trust

The Chesapeake Bay Trust (www.cbtrust.org) is a nonprofit grant-making organization established by the Maryland General Assembly dedicated to improving the natural resources of Maryland and the Chesapeake region through environmental education, community engagement, and local watershed restoration. The Trust’s grantees engage hundreds of thousands of individuals annually in projects that have a measurable impact on the waterways and other natural resources of the region. The Trust is supported by the sale of the Treasure the Chesapeake license plate; donations to the Chesapeake Bay and Endangered Species Fund on the Maryland State income tax form; donations made by hunters, fishers, and boaters in the Maryland online natural resource licensing system; donations from individuals and corporations; and partnerships with private foundations and federal, state, and local governments. The Trust has received the highest rating from Charity Navigator for over two decades: On average, 90% of the Trust’s expenditures are directed to its restoration and education programs.

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Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate: 2020 Year in Review

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A property owner proudly displays a Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate yard sign to showcase their new permeable pavement driveway and participation in the program.

To improve our communities and the environment, it will take each of us to do our part! Today, we look at residents of Prince George’s County, Maryland, who are doing their part to keep their communities clean, healthy, and beautiful.

Since 2012, County residents have the opportunity to receive a rebate, or reimbursement, for installing practices that reduce stormwater runoff, reduce pollution, and improve local river health through the County’s Rain Check Rebate Program. The practices include rain barrelscisternsurban tree canopyrain gardenspavement removalpermeable pavement, and green roofs. These practices beautify the property and have additional benefits. For example:

  • installing rain barrels and cisterns reduces water use from the tap and reduces watering costs
  • planting native trees and plants provide food and habitat for important bird and pollinator species
  • removing pavement and replacing it with permeable pavement can reduce standing water on the walkway or driveway

Fiscal Year 2020 By The Numbers

161878
Rebates Awarded
154
Applications Approved
135
Rain Barrel & Cistern Projects
211
Urban Tree Canopy Projects
24
Rain Garden Projects
27
Pavement Removal Projects
19
Permeable Pavement Projects
92,928
Sq. Ft. of Impervious Area Treated

The Prince George’s County Department of the Environment partners with the Chesapeake Bay Trust to administer this program. We are excited to announce that Fiscal Year 2020 (July 2019 to June 2020) for the Rain Check Rebate Program was another successful year with 154 approved applications, representing 416 projects, for a total rebate amount of $161,878. These projects help treat 92,928 square feet of impervious surface, which is almost the size of one and a half football fields!

This is a very worthwhile program to help protect our local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. We planted over 15 trees on our property to help reduce stormwater runoff and are looking forward to the increase of beautiful spring flowers and fall foliage to come in our yard. We are very happy we found out about this program!

Jessica and Franklin
Prince George's County Residents

The projects installed through the Rain Check Rebate Program play an important role in keeping our rivers clean and healthy by tackling the issue of stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff occurs when rainwater flows across impervious surfaces such as roofs, parking lots, and roads, that do not allow the water to soak into the ground. As it flows across these surfaces, it can pick up harmful pollutants such as bacteria from pet waste and motor oil from cars. This polluted runoff makes its way into nearby rivers and is harmful to aquatic life and can be a health hazard for people. Fast-moving and high volumes of stormwater runoff can also cause erosion of riverbanks.

Since the program’s inception, we’ve had over 730 approved applications, representing over 1,550 projects, for a total rebate amount of over $680,000.

Thank you to everyone that has participated in the Rain Check Rebate Program throughout the years! Your efforts help keep Prince George’s County beautiful and healthy!

The Prince George’s County Rain Check Rebate Program is currently open and accepting applications on a rolling basis.

Learn More and Apply

Celebrate Earth Day 2021!

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8 Steps You Can Take This Earth Day to Help Mother Nature

Are looking for things to do for Earth Day? Here are a few actions you can take and events you can attend to support the Earth.

1. Take a walk in your neighborhood and pick up trash. 

All it takes is a couple of pairs of gloves and a trash bag to get involved. Look out for sharp and dangerous objects and stay safe!

2. Pick up pet waste! Timely removal keeps waste from washing into waterways and spreading bacteria and parasites.

Why Scoop That Poop

Click the image to learn more about why picking up pet waste is so important!

3. Switch to online billing and go paperless for your household budget.

Imagine how many bills pile up on your desk each year. Switching to e-bills cannot only make your life more efficient but save trees in the process.

4. Make a personal plastic audit.

Check items around your house to fully understand how prevalent plastic is in your life and investigate ways to make simple swaps.

5. Switch out single-use plastic bags for reusable shopping totes.

It is estimated that every year, 300 million plastic bags are put in the Atlantic Ocean. If we all make the change, we can help prevent this pollution.

6. Replace inefficient incandescent light bulbs with efficient CFLs or LEDS. 

By switching to efficient light bulbs, you can reduce your carbon footprint by 450 pounds a year!

7. Contribute to the Chesapeake Bay Trust to help make a powerful investment in the Chesapeake region.

By donating to the Chesapeake Bay Trust, you are contributing to the funding of organizations that help make a powerful environmental impact on the Chesapeake region each year.

8. Attend these Earth Day Events.

 

The High 5 Initiative – Earth Day Kayak Cleanup:

Sat, April 24, 2021

8:30 AM – 12:00 PM

 

Baltimore City Composting Virtual Workshop:

Thurs, Apr. 22nd

10:30 am – 12:00 pm

 

 Baltimore’s First Annual Zero Waste Day:

Thurs, Apr. 22nd

6:30 – 8:30 pm

 

Maryland Stream Restoration Association – 2021 Virtual Career Seminar:

Thurs, Apr. 22nd

11:30 am – 1:00 pm

 

 

 

Women’s History Month at the Chesapeake Bay Trust

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Women’s History Month at the Chesapeake Bay Trust: Jana Davis

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 Jana Davis, Executive Director at the Trust.

Dr. Jana Davis, Executive Director at the Chesapeake Bay Trust

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

Jana: I am the director at the Trust, and I love it because it’s the perfect combination of two elements of my background: science and policy/management.  My role at the Trust is really to support all the work that our amazing team members do; figure out a way to do it more easily, more efficiently, and better when possible; and determine whether there is some other direction we can/should go.  The Trust has an incredible mission and such a unique and wonderful role in the community.  We are a non-advocacy, independent, trusted entity that provides resources to groups to get amazing work done, which I love – the idea of helping other people get their goals accomplished – and that steps in to solve some key conundrums that others can’t. 

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

Jana: What inspired me was my love of natural resources like the ocean and bays and marshes and my love of being outdoors, and seeing what happens to certain parts of our outdoors.  I don’t admit this too often, because I’m a proud Marylander now, but I did grow up on the Jersey shore during the era the Jersey shore because somewhat infamous for medical waste washing up on beaches.  I think I just saw a late-night TV joke on this topic, so while the situation has much improved, it’s still on people’s minds.  It crushed my heart to go out to beautiful spots like the back trails in the Sandy Hook Gateways National Recreation area – these secret spots that when I was a kid I thought were “mine” – and see trash there.  Later, I became a scientist (oceanography), and it seemed only natural to combine my love of the outdoors with my love of science – which to me is more about question asking and problem-solving than memorizing, say, part of a cell – to become part of the environmental management community.

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

Jana: Work hard, be smart, and never be afraid of anything! 

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

Jana: I know that many women have faced significant barriers to accomplish their goals, and obviously barriers still exist when we look at things like CEO demographics and the fact that we still haven’t had a female President of the United States.  However, I have been very lucky in that I have been very supported along the way by people of all genders, or else worked so hard or was so blind to the barrier that I got my way anyway.  I am the first female Executive Director of the Trust, and at the time, people made a few comments, but by the time I realized that fact, I had already gotten the job!   Interestingly, at the time, the Trust had its first-ever female Chair of the Board of Trustees also.

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

Jana: Hard work, great vision, ability to get back up when knocked down, empathy.

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

Jana: I’m going to name two women:  One who for me represents all the women over the centuries who have played a historically downplayed role in so many great human discoveries, and one who directly helped me in my career.   The first is Katherine Johnson (and her colleagues), made famous in the book and movie Hidden Figures, though of course she and her colleagues were famous in certain circles long before that.  Katherine Johnson of course was one of the “computers” who worked at NASA in the 1950s and 60s and who were responsible for so many missions and calculations behind them, most notably the one that put a human on the moon and the backbone of our current GPS system.  To me, she represents all the women on whose shoulders so many great discovers stand, but who in the past have not gotten their due in the history books, such as Marie Curie, Catharine Littlefield Greene, Barbara McClintock, Grace Murray Hopper, Marie Maynard Daly, Maria Mitchell, Flossie Wong-Staal, etc.  My graduate school advisor, Dr. Lisa Levin, was personally a huge inspiration.  She works so hard, excels in her field, and never complains.  She was a huge inspiration to me when I was a graduate student.


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: 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.

Check It to Protect It: Tax Time is for Conservation

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Chesapeake Bay Trust Logo    Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Check It to Protect It:

Tax Time is for Conservation

Donations made to the Chesapeake Bay and Endangered Species Fund through Maryland’s income tax check-off program support education, community stewardship, and Bay restoration efforts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Cynamon Butler, cbutler@cbtrust.org, 410-974-2941 ext. 114 or 919-669-9531

(Annapolis, MD) February 17, 2021 – Tax season is here, and Marylanders can help protect one of our state’s greatest natural treasures, the Chesapeake Bay and its wildlife, by making a tax-deductible contribution to line 35, the Chesapeake Bay and Endangered Species Fund, on the Maryland tax form.

Where does the money go? The Chesapeake Bay and Endangered Species Fund was created to support Bay restoration and education programs and to protect Maryland’s rare, threatened, and endangered species. The fund is split evenly between the Chesapeake Bay Trust, a highly rated nonprofit organization, and the Wildlife and Heritage Division of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The line on the state income tax form allows Marylanders to quickly and easily donate to help the Bay and conserve Maryland’s native wildlife and endangered species. Nearly $1 million was contributed through the 2019 tax check-off, which funded Bay restoration initiatives, community stewardship projects, and environmental education programs across Maryland from the mountains to the ocean.
Now more than ever, it is important to protect – and visit – our natural resources. Many outdoor spaces, such as state parks, saw a significant increase in visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic when indoor venues like movie theaters and the mall were off limits.

“More and more people are beginning to understand what science has shown us for decades: People who spend time outdoors are healthier, which means they likely have fewer underlying conditions, which means they are poised to be able to withstand attacks like COVID-19 better,” said Jana Davis, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust. “We need to make sure ALL of our residents have access to healthy, clean, green outdoor spaces and that we work to solve any disparities in this access, and contributions to this fund can help.”

Launched in 1990, the Chesapeake Bay and Endangered Species Fund is one of the most successful voluntary tax check-off programs in the nation. Last year, more than 30,000 Maryland state income tax statements were returned with contributions to the fund. To make your contribution, simply complete line 35 on your Maryland state income tax form or ask your certified public accountant or tax preparer. Donations of any dollar amount can be made and all are tax deductible. For more information on the Chesapeake Bay Trust, visit www.cbtrust.org/taxdonation, or for details on the Department of Natural Resource’s Wildlife and Heritage Division, visit www.dnr.maryland.gov/wildlife.

Additionally, Certified Public Accountants and tax preparers have joined in on restoration efforts to improve the health of the Bay and conserve our at-risk species through the CPAs for a Healthy Bay program led by the Chesapeake Bay Trust. If you would like to work with a Bay-friendly CPA this tax season, or if you are a CPA who would like to participate in this program, visit www.cbtrust.org/cpas to learn more.

About the Chesapeake Bay Trust
The Chesapeake Bay Trust (www.cbtrust.org) is a nonprofit grant-making organization established by the Maryland General Assembly dedicated to improving the natural resources of Maryland and the Chesapeake region through environmental education, community engagement, and local watershed restoration. The Trust’s grantees engage hundreds of thousands of individuals annually in projects that have a measurable impact on the waterways and other natural resources of the region. The Trust is supported by the sale of the Chesapeake Bay license plate, donations to the Chesapeake Bay and Endangered Species Fund on the Maryland State income tax form, donations from individuals and corporations, and partnerships with private foundations and federal, state, and local governments. The Trust has received the highest rating from Charity Navigator for sixteen years. On average, 90 percent of the Trust’s expenditures are directed to its restoration and education programs.

About the Wildlife and Heritage Division of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources
The Wildlife and Heritage Service regularly reviews its database to determine areas it considers priorities for acquisition to maintain the quality of the unusual ecosystems, natural communities, or habitats for rare species. These recommendations are used by Maryland Department of Natural Resources, The Nature Conservancy, and other conservation organizations interested in purchasing ecologically significant properties. The Department of Natural Resources receives dedicated funding, through a very small percentage of the real estate transfer tax, called the Heritage Conservation Fund to be used specifically for the purchase of important natural areas harboring habitats for rare species or unique natural communities.

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