ShoreRivers is excited to announce that it will be launching a new program focused on supporting the next generation of agricultural land stewards on the Eastern Shore. Since 92% of land in Maryland is privately owned, it is crucial that landowners are engaged in conservation if we wish to see significant improvements in our landscape’s ecological function and in the health of our rivers. ShoreRivers will help rising stewards set conservation objectives concurrent with agronomic and profitability goals.
This new program, funded by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, is the brainchild of ShoreRivers staff members who are the stewards of long-held family farms in the region.
“In 2020, ShoreRivers’ Director of Community Engagement Darran White Tilghman and I gathered our families together for an afternoon to explore each of our family farms and talk about the beauty, the worries, and the opportunities that face us as the next generation of stewards for these farms,” said Laura Wood, ShoreRivers’ Ag & Outreach Coordinator. “The conversations sparked the idea for this program, as we knew we were not the only ones navigating the responsibilities of multigenerational land stewardship, and we wanted to connect with others to build a community of learning and support.”
In 2023, ShoreRivers will convene the first cohort of Next Generation Land Stewards—people who are new or upcoming agricultural landowners—to share resources and expertise, and create a network of peer support.
“Although we are only second-generation land owners, the Drummond family has been farming land in the Delmarva region since immigrating here from Europe. This farm was my father-in-law’s passion,” said Katie Drummond, ShoreRivers’ Restoration Designer. “Making this farm our home, preserving the land, and maintaining it in agricultural production ensures that his life’s work lives on through us and future generations.”
Workshops with expert partners, including the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy and American Farmland Trust, will explore topics such as succession planning, equitable farm leases that include conservation, forest stewardship, government incentives, and land easements. This program will connect participants to existing efforts and resources—such as the Conservation ReserveProgram and the Natural Lands Project, among others—that will educate and empower the next generation of land stewards to feel confident as they navigate the decisions that will define our landscapes and waterways for years to come.
Whether you are the first generation on family land or the 15th, this program is for you. To learn more or join our first cohort of Next Generation Land Stewards who will help build this program, contact Laura Wood at [email protected].
ShoreRivers protects and restores Eastern Shore waterways through science-based advocacy, restoration, and education.