Sink or Swim! — The Cardboard Boat Race

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Almost there! Contestants in the Cardboard Boat Race near the shore.

The Washington College community turned out in force for the Center for Environment and Society’s annual Cardboard Boat Race on Saturday, Sept. 23.  They were rewarded with a beautiful day, an array of activities and exhibits by the CES staff and students, and music by the High and Wides. New President Landgraf went straight from his inauguration in the morning to the race and his first official duty  — as a judge for the Cardboard Boat Race.

Seven contestants lined up for the three-o’clock start, all home-made concoctions of duct tape, cardboard boxes, ingenuity and plenty of hope. So it was in a way fitting that the first across the finish line was A Boat Full of Hope, whose crew handily out-paddled the competition. Second place was a hard slog, with the Minnow beating out the Student Life entry by a slim margin.

The crowd anxiously watches – will they make it across the finish line before they sink?

Despite the ambitions of the cardboard shipwrights, several of the entries rapidly took on water, barely making it to the midway buoy before sinking. Their sailors swam, valiantly pushing their waterlogged crafts to shore. There were “spotters” in kayaks and other boats located in several strategic places, ready to rescue any fatigued swimmers.  Fortunately their rescue services were not needed this race.  And all participants were wearing life-jackets just in case. The crowd and announcer John Schratweiser cheered all them on, with especially enthusiastic cheers for the sinking craft and their occupants. Among those who ended up swimming to shore were the crew of the popular favorite, the Goose, named for the school mascot — which ironically also took the judge’s award for Best Design.

Boatful of Hope, signed by numerous friends and well-wishers in the manner of a cast on a broken arm.

A Boatful of Hope had the slogan “All you Need Is Love” and was signed by numerous friends and well-wishers in the manner of a cast on a broken arm.  Their good wishes must have worked (along with the duct-tape) as Hope won the race!

The S.S. Minnow 

The boat Mermaid – loudly cheered around the course by the mother of one of the sailors – took the award for Team Spirit, while the Jurassic Park themed T. Wrecksosaurus took the prize for best theme. Honorable Mention went to the aptly-named There’s Room for Two.

The T. Wrecksosaurus crew brought a mascot – a friendly dinosaur who happily posed for pictures with audience members.  In between selfies, the dino danced, chased his boat crew – who were all wearing explorers’ pith helmets – nuzzled up to unsuspecting spectators, and nibbled at people’s heads and arms.

Dinosaur Mascot of the T-Wrecksosaurus boat

Spectators could also take part in a 50-50 raffle, a drawing for a ride on the CES’s oceanographic boat Callinectes, or a private tour of the CES’s research stations on Chino Farms.

Mastodon-spearing was a popular event. Note that except for one “Bulls-Eye,”almost no one hit the target.

Another popular attraction was a mastodon-spearing event, with participants using a special thrower to launch spears at a model mastodon on the far side of Wilmer Park.  Sponsored by the Anthropology Club, the event highlighted the skill and strength needed by ice-age hunters to bring down their prey.  Most of those who gave it a try were barely able to throw their spears half-way down the course where their spears would land near signs with messages like “Become a Vegetarian,” “Clovis but no Cigar,” or “Don’t worry! Bugs have protein, too!” The final sign, for those few whose spears actually reached the target, declaimed “You’ve MastoDONE it!”

Each participant got three throws using the atlatl, an Aztec spear-thrower, to determine if they were hunters or gatherers!

Aztec atlatl – spear-throwers

Cardboard Boat Race – The Judges

John Schratwieser, MC Extraordinaire!

High and Wides

The High and Wides provided lively music all afternoon.

Float or Sink experiment for kids by Center for Environmental Science

 

$500K Grant to Center for Environment and Society

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A male bobwhite quail at the Natural Lands Project

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has awarded Washington College’s Center for Environment & Society (CES) $500,000 to expand its innovative Natural Lands Project into the mid-shore. The foundation grant meets $801,000 in matching funding from CES and its partners, Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, and Pickering Creek Audubon Center, for a total of $1.3 million for the project.

The Natural Lands Project (NLP), piloted at the college’s Chester River Field Research Station at Chino Farms, enlists the support of local landowners to restore grassland habitat for bobwhite quail and other species while also creating buffers that help filter runoff into the Chesapeake Bay’s tributaries.

“The Natural Lands Project encompasses the best of what we do and teach—it restores habitat, cleans the Bay, and perhaps most important, it provides an example to our students of how the cultural links between environment and society can be used in restoration,” said John Seidel, director of the CES. “That social and community element in restoration is critical to the future of the Chesapeake, as well as to watersheds around the world.”

The grant, announced Sept. 19, was among 44 projects awarded through the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund, a partnership between the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants and Small Watershed Grants programs, as well as other partners. Washington College is the only institution of higher education among the recipients.

“Through the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and our partners, especially the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, continue to invest in locally led efforts to protect and restore the more than 100,000 miles of local rivers and streams that feed the Bay,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO, NFWF. “These investments demonstrate that the actions necessary to restore local rivers and streams go hand in hand with opportunities to enhance local communities.”

One of the biggest issues for the Bay on the Eastern Shore is agricultural runoff. Collaterally, as more acreage is put into agriculture, grassland and upland habitats are vanishing, and with them, iconic species like the bobwhite quail. Using the restored grasslands at the college’s Chester River Field Research Station, Dan Small, a field ecologist with CES and now coordinator of the NLP, has been conducting surveys to document the quail population in the restored grasslands and around the farm. By last year, Small and Washington College student researchers documented an average of 25 calling males and an estimated 29 coveys—the highest concentration of the species in the state of Maryland since its precipitous decline began decades ago.

As a game bird, the bobwhite historically is on a cultural par with the Canada goose on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Its loss was keenly felt among hunters, sportsmen, and farmers. In an effort to motivate landowners to create more habitat for the quail—and, by extension, create buffers that would help reduce agricultural runoff into the Bay’s tributaries—the CES worked with the Chester River Association in 2015 to spin the quail restoration into the Natural Lands Project with a $700,000 award from the Department of Natural Resources.

“The concept was simple,” said Mike Hardesty, associate director of programs and staff at CES. “Transform less-than-productive agricultural land into natural habitat for iconic species. Give landowners a cultural reason—even more compelling than a financial one—to set aside some of their land for habitat management, which in turn would benefit local water quality and Bay restoration efforts.” The NLP also restores wetlands in order to achieve similar water quality and wildlife benefits.

In the first two years, the NLP created 274 acres of native upland grasses and wildflowers in marginal cropland on 11 participating farms. Ten wetlands projects—25 acres of wetlands in fields with unproductive soils poorly suited for growing crops—were also completed. College students and CES researchers began what will be a continuing survey of bird populations to monitor abundance and diversity at each site.

The new funding will be used to expand the project to into the middle and upper Eastern Shore to 285 more acres of buffers and 16 more acres of wetlands. Before receiving the award, five landowners signed on for an additional 115 acres. CES expects this project and its focus to grow and the model to be used in watersheds across the country.

Watch a video about the Natural Lands Project.

 

Cardboard Boats Make a Splash!

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Have you ever dreamed of building your own boat?  What about one made out of cardboard, glue and duct tape?  The Center for Environment & Society’s 11th Annual Cardboard Boat Race is fast approaching and will give you the opportunity to test your boat building (and racing) skills.  Now is the time to register your crew and start building your boat. “Add several coats of latex-based paint and you’ll be ready to go,” says Jamie Frees, Outreach Coordinator for the Center for Environment & Society.

The great Cardboard Boat Race day is Saturday, September 23, from 1-4 pm at Wilmer Park in Chestertown.

Spectators and participants alike will have a blast at this event. Whether you sink or float it is great fun on the Chester River.  Hundreds of dollars in prizes for awards ranging from 1st around the course, best construction, most team spirit, even a people’s choice (come early to vote for your favorite boat) and more. Hurry, the deadline for registration is September 22, 2017. Go to this website for boat-building tips or here to register your boat. Entries are $15 per team.

All boats go on display at 12:30 pm on race day.  Captains and crew meet at 2:45 pm, the popular boat parade begins at 2:50 pm and the race starts at 3:00 pm sharp along the Pavilion in Chestertown’s Wilmer Park.  The race is open to individuals, businesses, schools, civic groups and non-profit entities in Kent or Queen Anne’s County Maryland desiring to build a boat and team spirit.  Participants must be at least 12 years of age.

The Cardboard Boat Race is part of the Center’s Get to Know CES event in Wilmer Park during Fall Family Weekend from 1:00 – 4:00 pm on September 23rd. Center for Environment & Society staff will be on hand discussing, and sometimes demonstrating their innovative and educational programs. Visit each booth for a chance to win a 90-minute cruise on the Chester River for up to ten people on the research vessel Callinectes or a guided tour of beautiful Chino Farm, including the bird banding station and historic grasslands, for up to six people. Stop by the trivia table to test your CES knowledge and win a tee shirt!

Activities include river cruises aboard the 46-foot Callinectes ($5 per person), kayaking and paddle boarding on the Chester River. There will be food, beer and live music by the High & Wides.  In case of foul weather, activities may be canceled.  For information contact 410-810-7162 or visit CES’s website.  Events are organized by the Center for Environment & Society at Washington College for Fall Family Weekend.  The event is free and open to the public.

For questions about the event please contact Jamie Frees at 410-810-7162 or jfrees2@washcoll.edu.

Washington College Center for Environment & Society – 210 S. Cross Street #101 – Chestertown, MD 21620

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Wye River Upper School Partners with Center for Environment & Society to Monitor the Corsica River

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A common interest to gain knowledge of, and share passion for, the Chester River watershed brought together two markedly different learning institutions to advance a project that will enable students to track their home river’s health.

On a beautiful early December day, staff from the Center for Environment & Society (CES) at Washington College in Chestertown teamed with faculty from the Wye River Upper School (WRUS) in Centreville, and eleven of their high school’s students, to deploy a data collecting observation buoy on the Corsica River, one of the Chester’s largest tributaries.

 Doug Levin, deputy director of Washington College's Center for Environment & Society, Chrissy Aull, executive director of Wye River Upper School, Bruce Valliant of Valliant & Associates in Chestertown, MD, and Virginia "Jij" Duffey examine a nautical chart to find the position of the new data collecting observation buoy.

Doug Levin, deputy director of Washington College’s Center for Environment & Society, Chrissy Aull, executive director of Wye River Upper School, Bruce Valliant of Valliant & Associates in Chestertown, MD, and Virginia “Jij” Duffey examine a nautical chart to find the position of the new data collecting observation buoy.

This basic observation buoy—also known as a BOB—is the latest addition to the College’s Chester River Watershed Observatory (CRWO), whose goal is to connect surrounding communities to the river’s future and provide more thorough information on which to base decisions that will positively affect the river and, ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay.

The buoy launch was a natural progression of CES’s partnership with Wye River Upper School, whose two science educators, Dimitra Neonakis and Stacey DeWitt, completed the Rivers to the Bay program with Doug Levin, deputy director of the CES and leader of the observatory. Through Rivers to the Bay, which has been funded for the last three years by the Maryland State Department of Education and NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Office, the CES has worked with nearly 60 educators in Kent and Queen Anne’s counties to teach data-gathering techniques and to develop K-12 lesson plans that incorporate the observatory. By graduation, students will have a 12-year dataset, experience in building robotics and conducting field research, and a deep personal connection to, and understanding of, the Chester River and the Chesapeake Bay.

Students from Wye River Upper School, along with faculty and supporters, gather around the basic observation buoy before it's deployed into the Corsica River.

Students from Wye River Upper School, along with faculty and supporters, gather around the basic observation buoy before it’s deployed into the Corsica River.

With the new buoy in place, Neonakis and DeWitt will show their students how to use the data to analyze the conditions in their “backyard” Corsica River and compare those results to the buoys located up and down the Chester River and in the Chesapeake Bay. They will measure water temperature, salinity, turbidity, pH, and dissolved oxygen, and post their data to a central, publicly accessible website. The water quality data will be augmented by the installation of five weather stations around the watershed. Ultimately, these sensors and many others will provide a dense network of monitors, collecting real-time information on a host of variables critical to the health of the river.

“WRUS is diligent in using community-based opportunities, and the learning goes deeper if students can see their work in the context of a real situation,” says Neonakis, who also notes that WRUS students were a part of Levin’s presentation to the Corsica Implementers group. “This project included our students interacting with the multiple government and non-profit agencies that are working to protect the Corsica River.”

The vision to see the Wye River Upper School align with opportunities offered by the College was that of a friend of both, Virginia “Jij” Duffey. A staunch steward of the watershed and, at the time, a WRUS trustee, she began talking to personnel at the school and College.

“There are innumerable possibilities for partnerships between non-profits. We all have visions and good suggestions, yet not as many actually form. Jij pursued this one and helped to make it happen,” says Chrissy Aull, executive director of WRUS.

With support from WRUS grant funders, Bruce and Mary Ellen Valliant of Raymond James Financial Services in Chestertown, Aull dedicated a small portion of a Raymond James grant to CES to underwrite half of the cost of the Corsica buoy. The remainder was funded through the Maryland State Department of Education and the CES.

Through Maryland Department Environment permitting processes and fabrication delays, the school and College eagerly awaited delivery of the buoy. Within days of its completion, Levin welcomed WRUS students and teachers, Jij Duffey and her husband Stoney, Bruce Valliant, and Myron Richardson, representing the Corsica River Conservancy, on board the Callinectes, one of Washington College’s two research vessels. The 15-foot BOB lay centered on the aft deck, clearly the focal point of the gathering.

A short ride down the Chester, a left turn into the Corsica, and the Callinectes arrived at the buoy’s position, about a mile-and-a-half downstream of Centreville wharf. Three men and an anchored tether carefully guided the BOB, now bearing the WRUS logo, into its new location, prompting applause from all on board. Within minutes, Levin, who was eagerly watching his mobile device, announced, “We have data,” and another round of cheers erupted.

“We are so happy to be a part of the plan to take collaborative learning between higher learning institutions and colleges and the Wye River sciences program,” says Mary Ellen Valliant.

“This buoy is a critical part of a growing network of buoys, improving our understanding of the glorious Chester River,” says John Seidel, director of the CES. “CES and Washington College are delighted to partner with Wye River Upper School and the Valliants. This is a win for the kids, a win for the environment, and a win for all of the rest of us.”

When the CRWO is complete, it will support a series of buoys, monitoring stations, research vessels, and autonomous craft that will record a wealth of data about the river, from its headwaters to its mouth at the Chesapeake Bay, several times a day, every day. Coupled with monitoring of variables such as weather events, fish migrations, and land-based factors including agricultural and urban water management practices, the data will be accessible to schools, citizens, agencies, organizations, and scientists through a publicly accessible website developed in partnership with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Association Coastal Ocean Observation System (MARACOOS). In the coming year, monitors will be installed in public areas of at least 10 local schools that will show the changing conditions of the water throughout the day on “buoy TV.”

Founded in 2002, WRUS is an independent high school serving bright, college-bound students with learning differences. With enrolled students and staff from east and west of the Chesapeake, the Bay and its estuaries strike a common chord with the entire WRUS community.

Created in 1999, Washington College’s Center for Environment & Society promotes interdisciplinary learning, research, and exemplary stewardship of natural and cultural resources. Its primary objective is to support the integration of ecological and social values.

RiverArts and Center for Environment and Society Announce “RiverFest” September 26

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Chestertown RiverArts and Washington College Center for Environment & Society are launching RiverFest, a new, annual event on Saturday, September 26 that will include an afternoon festival at Wilmer Park, water activities and the lighting of a large, floating, solar-powered sculpture at sunset.

Beginning at noon, Wilmer Park on the Chestertown waterfront will be filled with music, activities for families including RiverArts’ KidSPOT and Phillips Wharf Fish Mobile, a Sun, Sail and Paddle Expo displaying kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, sailboards and day sailors, as well as accessories by manufacturers and local distributors; art and environmental displays; and good food and drink.

The first water event of the afternoon will be RiverArts Poker Run, in which participants paddle to each of five buoys stationed along the river to pick up one sealed envelope containing a playing card at each buoy. After all paddlers return to shore they open their five envelopes at once and compare their cards to see who drew the winning hand and wins the cash prize

Washington College’s 9thAnnual Cardboard Boat Regatta will take to the water at 3PM. The popular and always exciting competition is open to students and all members of the community. Participants create homemade cardboard crafts ranging from nautical to whimsical and from seaworthy to water logged to compete.  The regatta takes place along the waterfront by Wilmer Park. 

Kayak and canoe races are planned for the afternoon and will start and finish in front of Wilmer Park. The mile-long race course extends south to a broad turn at the mouth of Radcliffe Creek before returning to the park. The race will begin with a heat for kayaks 12 ft. long and over. The second heat will feature kayaks less than 12 ft. long, and a third heat for twosomes in tandem kayaks and canoes. 

RiverArts Parade of Lights will begin just prior to the illumination of the solar sculpture. Led by RiverArts’ KidSPOT children, the festival will process to the area where the illumination of the floating sculpture is staged. 

The RiverFest floating sculpture is designed by Vicco and Jacquie von Voss with the logistical and engineering support from Zane Carter and Ed Minch. The solar powered sculpture will light up as the sun goes down and the full moon rises over the eastern shore of the Chester River. It will be a stunning spectacle to behold. 

Vicco von Voss is a master wood worker and furniture maker, best known for his use of natural materials. His signature “Vicco Chair” was awarded Best In Show at RiverArts’ recent “Woodworkers’ Showcase” exhibition. His work has been displayed at art galleries including Kohl Gallery at Washington College; The Carla Massoni Gallery, Chestertown; Academy Art Museum, Easton; Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery, Washington, D.C.; and in Hamburg, Germany. No stranger to art on a grand scale, his home was featured as a work of art in the Thanksgiving 2014 issue of the New York Times.

Painters competing in the RiverFest Plein Air competition will be visible throughout RiverFest capturing images of the event. For out-of-town visitors, there will be walking tours of downtown Chestertown to learn about our rich history. The Sultana has two public sails scheduled during the day and the Center for the Environment and Society will also be taking guests on their research vessel, the Callinectes. Echo Hill Outdoor School will be hosting students and staff from Pennsylvania State University on its classic skipjack, the Elsworth and its historic ship, the Annie D. 

RiverArts is currently looking for sponsors for the event as well as paddle and solar exhibitors for the Sun, Sail & Paddle Expo. Interested parties should contact Jodi Bortz at 410-778-6300 or jodibortz@chestertownriverarts.org to learn more.

RiverFest promises to be a fun filled day for everyone. It will be a great showcase of Kent County, Chestertown, the waterfront and our community. For more information about RiverFest, visit www.chestertownriverarts.org.

RiverArts & WC’s Center for Environment and Society Announce “RiverFest”

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Chestertown RiverArts and Washington College Center for Environment & Society are launching RiverFest, a new, annual event on Saturday, September 26 that will include an afternoon festival at Wilmer Park, water activities and the lighting of a large, floating, solar-powered sculpture at sunset. 

Beginning at noon, Wilmer Park on the Chestertown waterfront will be filled with music, activities for families including RiverArts’ KidSPOT and Phillips Wharf Fish Mobile, a Sun, Sail and Paddle Expo displaying kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, sailboards and day sailors, as well as accessories by manufacturers and local distributors; art and environmental displays; and good food and drink.

The first water event of the afternoon will be RiverArts Poker Run, in which participants paddle to each of five buoys stationed along the river to pick up one sealed envelope containing a playing card at each buoy. After all paddlers return to shore they open their five envelopes at once and compare their cards to see who drew the winning hand and wins the cash prize

Washington College’s 9thAnnual Cardboard Boat Regatta will take to the water at 3PM. The popular and always exciting competition is open to students and all members of the community. Participants create homemade cardboard crafts ranging from nautical to whimsical and from seaworthy to water logged to compete.  The regatta takes place along the waterfront by Wilmer Park. 

Kayak and canoe races are planned for the afternoon and will start and finish in front of Wilmer Park. The mile-long race course extends south to a broad turn at the mouth of Radcliffe Creek before returning to the park. The race will begin with a heat for kayaks 12 ft. long and over. The second heat will feature kayaks less than 12 ft. long, and a third heat for twosomes in tandem kayaks and canoes. 

RiverArts Parade of Lights will begin just prior to the illumination of the solar sculpture. Led by RiverArts’ KidSPOT children, the festival will process to the area where the illumination of the floating sculpture is staged. 

The RiverFest floating sculpture is designed by Vicco and Jacquie von Voss with the logistical and engineering support from Zane Carter and Ed Minch. The solar powered sculpture will light up as the sun goes down and the full moon rises over the eastern shore of the Chester River. It will be a stunning spectacle to behold. 

Vicco von Voss is a master wood worker and furniture maker, best known for his use of natural materials. His signature “Vicco Chair” was awarded Best In Show at RiverArts’ recent “Woodworkers’ Showcase” exhibition. His work has been displayed at art galleries including Kohl Gallery at Washington College; The Carla Massoni Gallery, Chestertown; Academy Art Museum, Easton; Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery, Washington, D.C.; and in Hamburg, Germany. No stranger to art on a grand scale, his home was featured as a work of art in the Thanksgiving 2014 issue of the New York Times.

Painters competing in the RiverFest Plein Air competition will be visible throughout RiverFest capturing images of the event. For out-of-town visitors, there will be walking tours of downtown Chestertown to learn about our rich history. The Sultana has two public sails scheduled during the day and the Center for the Environment and Society will also be taking guests on their research vessel, the Callinectes. Echo Hill Outdoor School will be hosting students and staff from Pennsylvania State University on its classic skipjack, the Elsworth and its historic ship, the Annie D. 

RiverArts is currently looking for sponsors for the event as well as paddle and solar exhibitors for the Sun, Sail & Paddle Expo. Interested parties should contact Jodi Bortz at 410-778-6300 or jodibortz@chestertownriverarts.org to learn more.

RiverFest promises to be a fun filled day for everyone. It will be a great showcase of Kent County, Chestertown, the waterfront and our community. For more information about RiverFest, visit www.chestertownriverarts.org.

Crickets Are On The Menu As WC Celebrates Food Day

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Pat Crowley is an advocate for bringing nutrient-rich insects into Western diets.

Pat Crowley is an advocate for bringing nutrient-rich insects into Western diets.

Washington College goes buggy to celebrate national Food Day on Friday, October 24, with a talk from an environmentally friendly entrepreneur who makes protein bars with cricket flour and opportunities to eat several insect-based dishes including cricket tacos, cricket energy bars and desserts made with meal worms.

Pat Crowley, founder and CEO of Chapul Bars, makers of energy and protein bars, will speak at 5:00 p.m. in Hynson Lounge, Hodson Hall, on the College campus, 300 Washington Avenue. He will explain why his company incorporates cricket flour as a sustainable source of protein in its bars. Proponents such as Crowley say crickets and certain other insects are a nutrient-dense and sustainable food source that should be raised and cultivated on a large scale.

Washington College professor of anthropology William Schindler, who is helping organize Food Day events, believes entomophagy, or eating insects as food, satisfies the major key themes in healthy eating today. “They are nutrient dense, local, organic, and gluten free,” he notes. “In fact, insects provide amazing proteins and fats, and they do so in a way that is much more sustainable than traditional domesticated animals. The Food Day events at Washington College will provide an opportunity to see that insects can be healthy, sustainable, and delicious.”

In addition to offering cricket tacos and a station to try your hand at making your own cricket flour energy bars, Washington College Dining Services will focus its menus for the day on locally sourced and sustainable ingredients. The dining hall is located on the second floor of Hodson Hall Commons and is open to the public for all meals (breakfast, 7:30 to 9:30 a.m., $6.40; lunch, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., $9.35; and dinner, 4:45 to 7:30 p.m., $11.40).

Thousands of Food Day events are held throughout the United States to raise awareness for healthier eating and its power to combat obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related diseases. The Washington College Food Day activities are sponsored by Dining Services, the Center for Environment and Society, and the Department of Anthropology.