A few years ago, when Dorchester County land conservationist Jerry Harris was awarded UM Horn Point Laboratory’s’ prestigious “Chesapeake Champion,” the Spy was anxious to interview him, as we have for almost every preceding recipient before him.
Sadly we had any equipment failure on that particular day, and the interview was lost. While the award ceremony continued, there was a lingering feeling of regret on our part that we were not able to share with our readers the extraordinary contributions that Jerry has made over the last thirty years for land and bird conservation on the Mid-Shore.
Thankfully, a few weeks ago, Jerry agreed to be interviewed again at the WHCP studio on Race Street.
A California native and UC-Berkeley educated engineer, Jerry Harris is not your typical landowner. While running VWR Scientific, which will eventually turn out to be a $1 billion company based out of Philadelphia, the avid duck hunter quickly decided to find a suitable farm to replicate the hunting grounds he had loved growing up in San Francisco. He found that perfect property with the purchase of Mallard Haven in the 1980s.
Since those early days, Harris and his family have now acquired three farms with close to 1,000 acres of land in Dorchester, all of them serving as demonstration sites to protect migrating waterfowl. He has used these lands to teach other landowners how to use their properties to attract more waterfowl and show how a soil management system can attract ducks and feeds their nutritional needs.
Now serving on the boards of Ducks Unlimited and the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, Harris also talks about the ultimate regional threat of sea level rising in Dorchester and the need for residents to adapt to this new reality but also be proactive, as with ESLC’s new Delmarva Oasis initiative, to protect what we on the Shore consider our unique ecosystem.