If you haven’t discovered the Sultana Education Foundation’s Lawrence Wetlands Preserve by now, plans are underway for a public reopening by Downrigging weekend in October.
A five-minute walk from the Foundation’s Holt Education Center on Cross St., the 8.5-acre preserve opens to a parallel universe of freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems surrounded by 400 newly planted trees, new topographic excavation, paths, and flower-blooming fields. It’s hard to believe this complex ecosystem is so close to town, veiled only by a wall of phragmites along the bike trail.
Just days ago, construction began for the long-planned Nature Center, a key component to the foundation’s mission to offer “educational opportunities that promotes stewardship of the Chesapeake Bay’s historic, cultural and environmental resources” that will serve as a base of operations for Sultana’s outdoor classes.
“The whole reason that we got involved with the property was to turn it into a land-based teaching center, which is the one thing we have never had. We have Sultana, which gets kids out on the big parts of the Bay. We have canoes and kayaks to get kids out on some of the smaller waters, but we’ve never had a land-based part of our campus,” says Vice President of SEF and former Chestertown Mayor Chris Cerino.
Cerino says that SEF programs have now returned to pre-pandemic levels as they serve school kids from Dorchester County to Kent. 300 students are scheduled for Sultana events this summer alone, from canoe camp and five-day kayaking to Sultana Camp and five-day Sultana trips.
In fact, the programs have become so popular that for this season, all reservations have been filled, with waiting lists for most of them. Cerino recommends that people check out 2024 programs when they are released in December.
While Cerino continues to manage much of Sultana Foundation’s year-around activities, the town recently reached out to him to help with the decades-long dream to build a river walk from the end of High St. to Radcliffe Creek, including along the College Environmental Center, and circle back to town. A waterfront committee will be formed, and Cerino wants to make it an inclusive endeavor by holding a charrette with the community and developing a list of suggestions to present to the town council.
“It’s one of those projects that you just need to grab like a pit bull with a steak in its mouth, and it’s going to be a multiple-year project. It’s not going to be cheap. But I honestly believe that the town, college, and community can get on the same page.” Cerino says.
The Spy caught up with Chris Cerino to update us on the Lawrence Wetlands Preserve, Sultana Programs, and his enlistment once again to help guide Chestertown to complete the long-planned river trail.
Photos provided by Sultana Education Foundation.
This video is approximately ten minutes in length. To find out more about Sultana, go here.