“Where Better to Watch a Sunset Over Water than from a Kayak?!”
When Gary and Justine Reinoehl retired from long careers at Amtrak and public schools respectively, they moved to Kent Island on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. With their passionate interest in the outdoors, as well as kayaking, it didn’t take them long to find the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center (CBEC) and become active volunteers at the organization.
According to Volunteer Coordinators, Anne and Dave Brunson, the Reinoehl’s are a great fit for CBEC. “Friendly, engaging and experienced in the out-of-doors, they are happy to help out in whatever way possible.” Since they started volunteering in 2018, the Reinoehl’s have become invaluable contributors to CBEC in many ways.
Both Gary and Justine have been long-time kayakers who have travelled many waterways in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, including the Potomac and Susquehanna Rivers and Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. As CBEC volunteers, they have led numerous youth and adult trips around the Horse Head Peninsula – Marshy Creek, the Kent Narrows, and Prospect and Crab Alley Bays in Queen Anne’s County. Gary is well-versed in local Queen Anne’s County History and Justine, an experienced educator, they help out with CBEC’s numerous camps and outdoor adventures for both adults and students.
Thanks to a grant from Queen Anne’s County, the CBEC kayak fleet now consists of 11 double and 22 single kayaks. “We’ve had groups of as many as 20 or more from the Shore, the Baltimore and Washington, DC areas, and as far away as Colorado,” said the Reinoehls. “There are some weeks in the Spring and Summer when we’re at CBEC every day! Thankfully, we have several other capable folks who help us.”
“But, we could always use more!” Justine added.
Gary also serves as Head of CBEC’s Trail Maintenance Team, which has had a busy spring conducting clean-up of the existing trails and boardwalks. And, thanks to a grant from the Mountain Club of Maryland, Gary and his team have cleared and re-opened the North Point Trail. “We recently set-up an ‘Adopt a Trail’ program to help with ongoing trail maintenance and we’ve been pleased at the support CBEC has received so far,” said Gary.
Gary and Justine also worked with a group of volunteers from Chesapeake College to re-open two small nature viewing ponds behind the CBEC Education Building. “CBEC has always had a good relationship with Chesapeake College. Having those enthusiastic, young people here really made the job easy,” he said.
Justine’s background in education has proved invaluable to CBEC as well. Besides helping with popular school environmental education programs like ‘Catch a Bay Critter’, Justine often serves as a volunteer assistant with CBEC’s Raptor Program. “It’s so gratifying to watch student’s and adult’s reactions to seeing owls and hawks ‘up close and personal’,” she explains.
“Having committed volunteers like the Reinoehls is essential CBEC’s growth and success,” stated Executive Director, Vicki Paulas. “They are invaluable volunteers as well as great ambassadors of CBEC’s growing membership!”
“We just enjoy being at CBEC as well as being outdoors on this lovely, unspoiled piece of land,” agreed both Gary and Justine. “Where else can you be to watch the sunset over the water than from here, in a kayak?!”
Interested in becoming a volunteer at CBEC? In addition to helping with kayaking, trail maintenance, and education, CBEC volunteers and members help staff the Visitor Center, assist with fundraisers, and participate in citizen science programs. To learn more, go to: www.bayrestoration.org/volunteer.