As the Spy has noted before, we’ve been spending a lot of time lately trying to catch up with a number of the Mid-Shore’s most important organizations, and their newly appointed leaders, as the Mid-Shore slowly gets back to normal after almost two years of COVID-related shutdowns.
This week, we turn our attention to Isabel Hardesty. She assumed the role of executive director of ShoreRivers at the beginning of 2021 after the retirement of its founding director Jeff Horstman. And unlike so many other groups who reached out nationally for their new executive positions, Isabel has been quite a familiar face in the Eastern Shore’s conservation community for some time.
That is mainly because she had already worked at the Chester River Association as its policy director starting in 2011. And then, two years later, became its riverkeeper for the Chester, a position she held as the CRA merged into the new umbrella organization in 2018.
But, as Isabel points out in her Spy interview from last week, her connection to the Shore and her passion for protecting the Chesapeake ecosystem is also related to being the daughter of Tim and Kirsten Junkin, the founders of the Mid-Shore River Conservancy. Beyond simply growing up in a family of environmentalists, her parents also introduced her to the special role that riverkeepers play in preserving and protecting the region’s water quality and way of life.
When it came time to select a new director, ShoreRivers had already created a culture of hiring from within. With her long tenure at CRA, coupled with a master’s degree from Duke University in conservation management, Isabel was a natural choice to succeed Jeff Horstman in the lead role.
In our chat, Isabel talks about her background, her five years goals, and her organization’s commitment to the Chester, Choptank, Miles-Wye, and Sassafras Rivers. She also highlights the critical role that access plays in how ShoreRivers can engage and educate the Mid-Shore on protecting these beloved bodies of water and its communities.
This video is approximately eight minutes in length. For more information about ShoreRivers please go here.