The Sultana Education Foundation invites the public to the ribbon cutting ceremony for its new Lawrence Wetlands Preserve on Tuesday, October 17th at 11:00 am. There will be a short dedication with brief remarks by Sultana President Drew McMullen, state Senator Stephen Hershey, state Delegate Jay Jacobs, National Park Service Planning and Development Manager Bob Campbell, Chestertown Mayor David Foster, and Kent County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen
Couch. The ceremony will be followed by refreshments at the Preserve’s recently completed Harwood Nature Center and attendees will have an opportunity to walk the property.
Under development since 2017, the Lawrence Wetlands Preserve is an 8.5-acre urban nature center that features a variety of ecosystems including upland forest, swamp, marsh, shrublands, meadows, and a freshwater pond. Located adjacent to the Gilchrest Rail Trail at 301 South Mill Street, the Preserve is within easy walking distance of Chestertown’s Historic District. In addition to its natural elements, the property boasts an accessible trail network, wetland boardwalk, viewing platforms, an activity field, and the 1,200-square-foot Harwood Nature Center.
The Preserve is named in honor of the late Michael Lawrence, a long-time supporter of the Sultana Education Foundation who was passionate about introducing children to nature. Prior to his passing in 2018, Mr. Lawrence, with the assistance of Washington College, facilitated the purchase of the property and was involved in developing the site plan for the facility.
“We are grateful to Mr. Lawrence and the individuals, foundations, and government agencies that made the creation of the Preserve possible,” commented Sultana Board Chair Robert Hindman. “We’re thrilled to have created a resource that will enhance the Foundation’s environmental education programs while serving as a green space for the entire community.” Several state and federal agencies awarded sizable grants to the project including the Maryland General Assembly, the National Park Service’s
Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, and the Stories of the Chesapeake Heritage Area.
Beginning in 2024, the Lawrence Wetlands Preserve will host environmental literacy programs and
professional development opportunities for 3,000 students and teachers annually, with a focus on PreK through fifth grade. The Preserve will often be used in conjunction with activities taking place at other locations on Sultana’s Chestertown campus, including its LEED Platinum Holt Education Center, the schooner SULTANA, and canoe and kayak trips based out of Wilmer Park. When not in use for programs, the Preserve will serve as a contact point for the National Park Service’s Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, host programs for the public, and be open for general visitation daily from dusk to dawn.
The development of the Lawrence Wetlands Preserve was managed by a volunteer task force of community members led by co-chairs Mary Jo Veverka, Albert Massoni, Jennifer Leiber, and Brooke Harwood. This Task Force was aided by the skills of a talented team of designers and contractors including South Fork Studio, John Hutchison Architecture, Karlik Design, Dissen & Juhn Marine Contractors, Lindstrom Excavating, Emory Hill and Company, and owner’s representative Robert Ingersoll.
Based in Chestertown and serving the entire Chesapeake region, the Sultana Education Foundation provides hands-on educational opportunities for more than 14,000 students annually that promote stewardship of the Bay’s historic, cultural, and environmental resources. By helping students of all ages develop an appreciation for the Chesapeake Bay, Sultana is working to create a community of individuals who are dedicated to preserving this irreplaceable treasure.