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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Summer Butterflies and Migrating Monarchs at Pickering Creek

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Visit Pickering Creek Audubon Center this August and September for three excellent opportunities to learn about local butterflies! On Saturday, August 12 from 10:30AM to 12:30 PM, butterfly experts Theresa Murray and Frank Boyle are returning for a second year to lead a “Spectacular Summer Butterflies” talk and walk. Theresa Murray has been learning about butterflies and their life cycles over the past 20 years. She currently maintains gardens with nectar plants and host plants for several butterflies including monarchs. Frank Boyle is a naturalist and butterfly specialist from Rohrersville, MD. He leads several NABA (North American Butterfly Association) annual 4th of July butterfly counts in Maryland and the mountains of Virginia. He has been chasing and gardening for butterflies for 23 years. A short presentation about the most common butterflies on the Eastern Shore of Maryland will kick off the program. The group will then walk along Pickering Creek’s meadow trails to look for various species and the native plants that attract them. Participants will Learn about identifying features of these exquisite insects and observe the beautiful blooming plants that bring them in.

Participants in Pickering Creek’s Monarch Watch Tagging program try to carefully catch butterflies sipping nectar on wetland plants.

On September 13th and 20th from 4:30 to 6:00 PM, Pickering Creek naturalists will lead two Monarch Tagging events during the butterflies’ fall migration. Each year, monarchs migrate from their breeding grounds in North America to their overwintering grounds in Mexico. This year the University of Kansas’s Monarch Watch predicts high numbers of monarchs migrating south. Participating in their nationwide citizen science tagging program is a great way to learn about this charismatic local animal and contribute to scientific research on its population, challenges and resiliency. Both tagging events at Pickering Creek will include a short program on the lifecycle and migration of monarchs and how climate change is affecting them followed by an excursion into the wetland meadows where monarchs will be sipping nectar as they fuel up for their journey south! No experience is necessary.

Register for these programs by calling 410-822-4903 or emailing Mary Helen Gillen at mgillen@audubon.org.

What’s Growing in Our Rivers? SAV Workshop in Millstream Park on Saturday, July 29th

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SAV Workshop in Millstream Park on Saturday, July 29th.

We’re seeing a lot of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), like the curly pondweed pictured on the rake! If you spend a lot of time boating on the river, paddling in a creek or stream, or wading near your dock, we suspect you’ve come across these aquatic grasses as well. If you want to increase your general knowledge about SAV, learn how to collect samples, and learn how to identify different species, join us for our first SAV workshop led by our Chesapeake Conservation Corps Volunteer Lindsey Hughes!

Join Chester River Association staff for a morning of SAV sampling in Millstream Park! We’ve seen a major comeback in SAV in recent years, which are important for holding sediment in place, providing habitat, and producing dissolved oxygen for other aquatic critters.

The grasses in Old Mill Stream can be reached from the stream bank with the help of rakes and other sampling gear provided by CRA. We will meet in the park pavilion before heading to the stream to collect samples.

Snacks and water will be provided for all participants, please bring appropriate sun protection! This event is free and open to the public. If you’re interested in attending or have questions about the event, please call our office at 410-810-7556 or email Lindsey at lhughes@chesterriverassociation.org.   Check out the Chester River Association’s website for more information.

We hope to see you there!

SAV Workshop on Saturday, July 29th, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. at Millstream Park, Centreville, MD

CBEC Launches STEM Program

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Hanna Spongberg, ROVER instructor, assists Wye River Upper Schools students who are launching a ROVER for a water monitoring mission.

The Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center (CBEC) in a cooperative agreement with NASA added a cutting-edge STEM educational program to its educational endeavors.  This program is designed for Middle and High School students.

The program consists of environmental sampling techniques using NASA  approved equipment and associated technology.  Students will learn types of equipment and computer-related devices for sampling the local atmosphere and water.  The students will collect, interpret, and record data for use by scientists, institutions, agencies and general citizenry.  The local data will be downloaded to the GLOBE website (Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment- GLOBE.gov) and be available for researchers world-wide.

The students will collect atmospheric data on CBEC property by following guidelines in the  AEROKAT program.  The AEROKAT program involves flying kites outfitted with data collecting technologies and cameras.  They will capture and process their own data about near-surface rates of temperature, pressure, relative humidity and remote sensing.  They will be exposed to the ‘world of digital literacy’ through use of the equipment and data collection.  This skill set will benefit students in both academic and work experiences.

The ROVER program is associated with local water monitoring.  The ROVER is a remotely operated aquatic platform to measure and analyze data, such as oxygen levels, temperature, nutrients, and pH of water.  Students will operate the Rover on local waterways and collect data for downloading to the GLOBE website.

Students will learn how to interpret the data and determine local atmospheric and water conditions, identify potential problems and solutions under the guidance of CBEC staff and NASA resource partners.  Students will have the opportunity to work with professionals in the field.

Field trips to CBEC will give students the opportunity for hands-on experience with the AEROKATS and ROVERS and meet STEM requirements.  All activities are NGSS aligned and incorporate STEM education using real-world settings.  For more information go to bayrestoration.org/AREN and see what activities are available or contact jwink@bayrestoration.org.

MRC Breaks Ground on Restoration and Stormwater Projects at Chesapeake College

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On June 28, Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) and Chesapeake College jointly hosted a groundbreaking ceremony on the college’s Wye Mills campus. MRC has been leading an effort in collaboration with the college and funding partners to develop a comprehensive initiative to address major stormwater challenges on the campus. A suite of 14 projects will materially improve water quality in the Wye River. The projects include a wetland restoration, bioretention facilities that filter stormwater, and a stream restoration that will reduce erosion and treat pollutants coming off hard surfaces and the agriculture fields surrounding the campus.

Kristin Junkin, director of operations for MRC, led the ceremony by describing the projects and the valuable partnerships with both Chesapeake College and the funders that are supporting the work. These funders include Maryland Department of Natural Resources, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Chesapeake Bay Trust, and Queen Anne’s County. She thanked all of these partners and emphasized the importance and necessity of local leaders taking responsibility for restoring and protecting our rivers and Chesapeake Bay.

Photo: Pictured at the groundbreaking ceremony are (left to right) Rob Gunter (Queens Anne’s County Planning & Zoning), Ben Hutzell (Resource Restoration Group), Michael Mulligan (Chesapeake College), Sarah Hilderbrandt (Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources), Steve & Julie Burleson (MRC Advisory Committee), Barbara Viniar (former Chesapeake College president), Jim Moran (Queen Anne’s County Commissioner), Kristin Junkin (MRC Director of Operations), Evan Blessing (Blessings Environmental Concepts), Greg Farley (Chesapeake College), Bill Anderson (MRC Board), Timothy Jones (Chesapeake College), Michael Wiznosky (Queen Anne’s County Planning & Zoning), Dr. Clayton Railey (Chesapeake College), Lucie Hughes (Chesapeake College), Chris Oakes and Jess Lister (Environmental Concern), Tim Junkin (MRC founder) and Gus (Tim’s puppy). 

The college’s vice president of finance, Tim Jones,thanked MRC and all of the funder partners, saying,“Chesapeake College’s mission is to educate the residents of our five county region. Not only will these watershed projects allow us to enhance our classroom programs, they will also allow the college to serve as a working model of best practices for all residents on the Eastern Shore. The college is very appreciative of our partners on these projects. It is through partnerships like these that the college has become a nationally recognized leader in sustainability.”

Queen Anne’s County Commissioner Jim Moran applauded the well-organized and thoughtful proposal MRC brought to the county, adding that,“Queen Anne’s County is ready to do our part in cleaning up our waterways. We are delighted to work with MRC and we look forward to more projects down the road.”

The attendees at the ceremony had the unique opportunity to explore with the contractors the keystone project in the group, a Regenerative Step Pool Stormwater Conveyance. This project uses shallow pools to slow down and treat runoff from the college’s hard surfaces and surrounding agricultural fields before the water empties into the headwaters of the Wye East River. Attendees got a behind-the-scenes tour on how these types of projects are engineered and constructed.

The Chesapeake Bay Trust funded MRC’s Wye River Assessment that identified the project opportunities, Queen Anne’s County and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation funded the design work, and Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Queen Anne’s County are funding the construction. All of these projects are scheduled for completion by 2018.

Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration, protection, and celebration of the watersheds of the Choptank River, Eastern Bay, Miles River, and Wye River. For more information on these projects, contact Kristin Junkin at kristin@midshoreriverkeeper.org or 443-385-0511.

Midshore Riverkeeper Erects Waterfront Signs

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Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC), in partnership with Talbot County, has installed informational waterfront signs at Oak Creek Landing, Bellevue Landing & Marina, and Neavitt Landing. The attractive signs are an outreach tool to help readers understand current threats to clean water and ways to take action to improve local water quality.

Sign(s) and location map.

“Talbot County and the Eastern Shore have some of the most beautiful rivers and waterfront in the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” says Choptank Riverkeeper Matt Pluta. “Because these rivers are such valuable natural resources, we all need to work together to protect and preserve them. These water quality signs are a great way to remind the public about the value of our rivers—socially, economically, and environmentally—while encouraging the reader to take specific actions that make a difference.”

Local vendors produced the signs, with design by Joanne Shipley Graphic Design, printing by Sharper Image, and frames constructed by Warren Woodworks.The project was partially funded by Chesapeake Bay Trust.

For more information, contact Choptank Riverkeeper Matt Pluta at matt@midshoreriverkeeper.org or 443.385.0511.

Help Save the Bay at Chesapeake College’s Bay Fest 2017

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Committed to saving the Bay?

Come to Chesapeake College, 1000 College Circle, Wye Mills, from 4 to 9 p.m. July 22 and be a part of the 2017 Bay Fest, a one-night event to raise awareness and educate the public on ways to support a clean and healthy Chesapeake Bay. Admission is free, and the event will take place rain or shine. Refreshments will be available.

Chesapeake College’s resident theatrical group, The Peake Players, will present environmentally-themed stories including comic sketches about oysters, otters, mermaids, and a special hospital for fish.

The Peake Players are committed to creating performances that reflect Maryland’s unique local cultures and serve the needs of Maryland’s communities. They are directed by Dr. Robert C. Thompson, a professional director and playwright who has staged work in major cities in the US, Canada, Scotland, and China.

There will also be live music by lAmpersand, a string band based out of Annapolis.

If you’re in the mood for games, there’ll be  a death-defying obstacle course, crazy difficult duck pond, even crazier fishing pond, and corn hole. Or you can learn how to protect the bay from dangerous run-off on the thrilling drainage tour!

Crafts on display will include a trash mosaic, face painting, and oyster shell painting. There will also be an art exhibit featuring crabs, watermen, and muskrats all by local students and artists.

Bay Fest 2017 is sponsored by The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, The Riverkeepers Association and Chesapeake College.

For more information or to volunteer, visit facebook.com/chesapeaketheatre or email rthompson@chesapeake.edu.

Queen Anne’s County Master Gardeners Hold “Insect Hotel” Workshop

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Class participants with their finished insect hotel

The Queen Anne’s County Master Gardeners held an Insect Hotel Workshop on Monday, June 12th at the Centreville Library. Attracting Native Pollinators and good bugs are the major focus for many gardeners. Some of our smallest bees only fly a few hundred feet by providing nesting and foraging sites in the same habitat allow them to conserve energy and allow for more efficient use of resources by insects of any size. Providing overwintering sites for these pollinators and good bugs significantly increase nesting opportunities. Here are some steps to insure pollinator populations benefit the most from your home landscape:

  • Provide nesting and egg laying sites for a variety of pollinator species
  • Clean and replace artificial nests regularly
  • Don’t move native bees or previously used nest materials outside of their native ranges
  • Leave some bare, unmulched ground.
  • Hang nesting blocks in a protected location with light shade
  • Make sure that nesting blocks or “insect hotels” are mounted firmly and do not shake or move in the wind

4-H’er Kelsey Higgs, of Centreville shows off her insect hotel

For further information on pollinators and other environmentally sound practices, please visit extension.umd.edu or see us on Facebook.

University of Maryland Extension programs are open to all people and will not discriminate against anyone because of race, age, sex, color, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, ancestry, or national origin, marital status, genetic information, or political affiliation, or gender identity and expression.

Adkins Arboretum’s Summer Nature Camps Begin June 19

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Summer belongs to children! For more than a decade, families and children have grown with Adkins Arboretum’s Summer Nature Camps. The camps provide extraordinary ways for children to enjoy summer the old-fashioned way—outdoors. 

Campers ages 2 to 13 will make lifelong memories while exploring the Arboretum’s woodland, meadows, streams and wetland. From grazing on blackberries to splashing in the Blockston Branch, the Arboretum’s Summer Nature Camps provide children with a truly enchanted experience.

Calling our littlest nature lovers! Camp Bumblebee, for preschoolers ages 2 and 3, runs June 19–23. The Arboretum’s littlest campers will search for wiggly caterpillars in the Funshine Garden, blow bubbles under the trees and visit the Arboretum goat herd. From splashing in the stream to hunting for tadpoles in the wetland, Camp Bumblebee is summer at its best. Adults attend this camp with their children and enjoy the experience of discovering nature together.

Children learn through play, and nature is the best playground. Camp Pollywog (June 26–30) campers ages 4 to 6 will float leaf and twig boats down the Blockston Branch, create leafy magic carpets on the forest floor and mix up gooey wetland “sundaes” while listening to a chorus of frogs and red-winged blackbirds. Songs, crafts, stories, games and a healthy snack will round out each morning.

It’s “All About the Birds” in Camp Whippoorwill, a special birding camp for ages 8 to 12 (June 26–30). Campers will look for birds on the grounds with naturalist and educator Jim Wilson and will learn to identify birdsong, dissect owl pellets and meet a real-life falconer. They’ll also learn about nesting, migration, owls and vultures, hike to the Tuckahoe State park aviary, and much more.

In Camp Paw Paw (July 10–14), campers ages 7 to 9 will experience the magic of an outdoor summer. They’ll pick blackberries in the meadow, climb trees, toast marshmallows over a campfire and build forts in the woods. When temperatures rise, campers will cool off with sprinkler time in the Funshine Garden and whip up a batch of icy mint tea. Campers will top off the week with a special hike to the Tuckahoe Tire Park, stopping on the way to wade and search for stream critters.

In Camp Egret (July 17–21), campers ages 10 to 13 will hone their wilderness survival skills. Egret campers will navigate with compasses, build shelters, track wildlife and purify water. They’ll also brush up on first-aid, cook over a campfire, and forage, all while building valuable teamwork and leadership skills.

Registration fees vary, and advance registration is required. A special camp T-shirt is included. Register at adkinsarboretum.org or by calling 410-634-2847, ext. 0.