Adkins Arboretum Receives Chesapeake Bay Trust Mini Grants


Support from Chesapeake Bay Trust (CBT) and the CBT Chesapeake Conservation Corps program has made several exciting projects possible at Adkins Arboretum.

In 2016-2017, Corps member Kathy Thornton (now the Arboretum’s Land Steward) organized an All Hands on Deck workshop for the Conservation Corps to learn from renowned landscape designer and author Claudia West and to help her install a 4,500-plant plug design for the Arboretum Entrance Garden. What used to be mostly mulch was transformed into a living matrix of purple love grass, butterfly milkweed, aromatic asters, nodding onion, broomsedge, columbine and small’s ragwort. A CBT Chesapeake Conservation Corps mini grant and a CBT All Hands on Deck award provided funding for plants, and Conservation Corps members volunteered to plant the garden in early summer 2017. Now, a year after its installation, the garden is lush, thriving and a haven for birds and pollinators. West, North Creek Nurseries, New Moon Nurseries and numerous private donors also made generous contributions to help create the garden.

From left, Chesapeake Conservation Corps member Nathaniel Simmons, Adkins Arboretum Land Steward Kathy Thornton and Chesapeake Conservation Corps member Emily Castle.

Earlier this year, Corps member Blake Steiner created a citizen-scientist phenology program at the Arboretum. With support from a CBT Mini Grant, Steiner held two training workshops for volunteers interested in phenology, the study of cyclic and seasonal natural events. He also developed a phenology walk that included eight species of focus. Data collected by staff and volunteers are submitted to Nature’s Notebook, the National Phenology Network’s data platform, to be shared and publicly accessible nationwide.

The Chesapeake Conservation Corps program has also matched the Arboretum with two full-time Corps members for 2018-2019. The Corps is a green jobs program created by the Maryland Legislature, and administered by the Chesapeake Bay Trust, to educate and train the next generation of environmental stewards. The program matches young people ages 18–25 with nonprofit and governmental organizations for paid one-year terms of service that focus on improving local communities and protecting natural resources. Corps members Emily Castle and Nathaniel Simmons joined the Arboretum staff in August. Both are 2018 graduates of Washington College in Chestertown.

Castle served as president of the Washington College Campus Garden initiative, which created a flourishing sanctuary for wildlife and hands-on learning. She also has worked at Mt. Cuba Center and Longwood Gardens, and she is co-founder of the college’s Food Recovery Network, a program that transports leftover food from the dining hall to a local church to serve members of the Chestertown community at weekly dinners.

Simmons spent his college tenure working with Dr. Aaron Krochmal on a multi-year mark and recapture study on eastern painted turtles and snapping turtles. In addition to working year-round on his family’s Christmas tree farm, he worked as an intern for the college’s Foreman’s Branch Bird Observatory and is a certified 4-H Leader Volunteer.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. For more information, visit or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

The Chesapeake Bay Trust 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.

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