Sultana Snapshots: SEF and Gunston School Kick Off Chesapeake Watershed Semester

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Over a three-day, two-night kayak overnight trip from September 4-6, Sultana Education Foundation’s staff naturalists helped kickoff the Gunston School’s new Chesapeake Watershed Semester program. Throughout the course of the fall, Chesapeake Watershed Semester (CWS) introduces high school students to the complex environmental, political and cultural landscape of the Chesapeake Bay watershed through classroom and field experiences.

Gunston’s Chesapeake Watershed Semester student Zach Goss examines a longnose gar while paddling with Sultana Education Foundation on the Nanticoke River.

13 students and three CWS staff joined Sultana Education Foundation paddling educators to start their semester by exploring three rivers on the lower Eastern Shore of Maryland—the Nanticoke, the Pocomoke, and the Little Choptank. From the pristine swamplands of the Upper Nanticoke to the Pocomoke’s primordial stands of bald cypress, the students explored some of the diverse habitat contained in the Chesapeake Bay’s 64,000 square mile watershed.

Chesapeake Watershed Semester students explored the bald cypress swamps of the Pocomoke River.

“We were honored to be asked by Gunston to lead the very first trip of their new, innovative program,” said Sultana Education Foundation Vice President Chris Cerino. “It was a great experience for everyone involved. In addition to seeing an amazing array of Chesapeake ecosystems, it was an important bonding activity for the students as they kicked off their semester.”

Sultana Education Foundation connects people to the Chesapeake Bay’s history, ecology, and culture, inspiring them to preserve and restore America’s largest estuary through land- and-water-based experiential education. To learn more about Sultana Education Foundation’s public or school programs, visit sultanaeducation.org.

Night Work on Chester River Bridge Sept. 23-27

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The Chester River Bridge on Route 213.

Bob Rager, District Community Liaison with the Maryland State Highway Administration, announced in email Thursday that overnight mechanical repairs/adjustments to the MD 213 bridge over Chester River in Chestertown will begin this Sunday, September 23.  Hours will be Sunday through Thursday night, 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.

This work follows the recent installation of new motors for the draw spans.  Occasional bridge openings lasting approximately 15 minutes each may be necessary during the overnight hours. Travelers who need to cross the bridge during those hours should allow for possible delays or plan alternate routes such as MD 290 through Crumpton.

 

October 2018 Sky-Watch

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There is nothing particularly astronomical about Halloween which comes each October 31st. Halloween is actually All Hallows Eve, the night before November 1st, which is the Christian feast of All Saints. On All Hallows Eve the faithful remembered the dead. But we can find some astronomical items to mention this October.

October is the peak fall month in the northern hemisphere. Autumn leaves are falling, birds are migrating, and the growing season is slowing. Harvesting, canning, and preserving are more the order of the days. October is also the time of year when we notice sunsets happening earlier and day length dropping rapidly. Though we still hang onto daily savings time until the first weekend in November, we sky-watchers can get out earlier to enjoy the night sky.

Darkness has always been associated with Halloween and this year there will be no Moon in the sky for the “tricks or treaters.” Moon-rise is well past midnight on October 31st. But rising in the east by 9 pm is the famous Pleiades star cluster, which has had a rather sinister reputation throughout history. Seeing the Pleiades on the horizon in late October reminded ancient cultures that winter was getting closer, and that the harvest and storing of food needed to survive whatever kind of winter lay ahead was a top priority.

The Pleiades does not evoke sinister thoughts today for sky-watchers. It is a great open cluster of stars which were presumably formed at about the same time from the same immense cloud of inter-stellar gas. We can count 6 or 7 stars with the unaided eye and binoculars bring in at least 40 stars.

Look south for Mars; 30 degrees up by 8 or 9 pm, among the dim stars of Capricornus; standing out at magnitude –1.3. Though this is far lower than its late August peak of –2.8, Mars is still dazzling. It dims to our sight because we are moving away from it in our faster orbit, and because Mars, at 60% the size of Earth is small, reflecting far less light than say a planet the size of Jupiter. Though it will dim to –0.6 by October 31st, in a telescope, Mars still reveals surface features all month.

Mercury will be in the southwestern sky near the end of the month but very, very low and hard to see. Perhaps the best time to see it will on the 27th, when it lies right below Jupiter. Jupiter at magnitude –1.8, is 10 degrees up in the southwest sky an hour after sunset, but bright enough to spot in the deepening twilight. On October 1st look for Jupiter about 15 degrees to the upper left of Venus.

Despite being at –4.7 magnitude, Venus will be hard to see this month. It will only be 3 degrees above the western horizon 30 minutes after sunset, but if one has a clear view to the horizon, it should be seen. By October 10th Venus will have moved between us and the Sun and will be lost to view until it emerges on the other side of the Sun (right side) early in November.

Finally, Saturn gives us good views of itself in the early evenings. It is found in the south-southwest sky above Sagittarius some 25 degrees up and shining at 0.5 magnitude. Binocular views of Saturn nestled among the rich Milky Way star field of Sagittarius are great, and telescope views of Saturn and its wonderful rings are terrific!

Sultana Snapshots: Scott’s Point Findings to Share

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Photo by Kate Livie

The Scott’s Point area, historically African American, had many more homes than exist today—some of which were on the property where the Marina work is happening now. Though those buildings might be gone, there are reminders of the busy 19th century community that once existed here in the soil. These pieces of glass, salt glazed stoneware, transferware, milk glass and various crocks would have been thrown into a kitchen midden or privy vault when broken in daily use.

They’ve been unearthed by the construction at the waterfront; a reminder that no matter the century, Chestertown’s waterfront has always been a well-loved, well-used and important part of our river community.

The Sultana Education Foundation in Chestertown offers a diverse variety of history and science-based field programs serving students and teachers throughout Maryland and beyond. For more information please go here.

 

Florence: Sultana Education Foundation Gala Postponed to October 6

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Due to possible impacts from Hurricane Florence, and ground already saturated from a wetter than normal summer, the Sultana Education Foundation has postponed its Annual Gala from Saturday, September 15 to Saturday, October 6.

“Even without Florence looming offshore, the ground is already so wet that it is impossible for us to safely erect a tent for our Gala this weekend,” said Sultana President Drew McMullen. “All of the businesses working with us to organize the Gala, and especially Occasions Catering and Eastern Shore Tents and Events, have been incredibly supportive as we worked to lock down an alternate date for the event.”

Over 350 guests had reserved seats to attend Sultana’s Gala this weekend – the organization’s largest annual fundraiser. Proceeds from the event traditionally provide tuition subsidies for the more than 10,000 Maryland Public School students who participate in the Foundation’s environmental education programs each year.

“This event is central to our fundraising efforts,” commented Sultana Board Chair Chris Havemeyer. “We are confident that our supporters will roll with this disruption and come out to support us on October 6.”

Individuals and groups who have already purchased tickets for Sultana’s Gala will be notified directly regarding details of the postponement. Remaining tickets, as well as any new tickets that become available, are available for purchase at www.sultanaeducation.org or by calling 410-778-5954.

 

Sultana Snapshots: Radcliffe Creek Gets an “A” for Wild Celery

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This summer the Sultana Education Foundation went paddling up Radcliffe Creek with a group of teachers from Kent School, Radcliffe Creek School, and Kent County Middle School as part of a collaborative effort to plan field trips for their 7th grade students during the upcoming school year. On its most recent report card, the Chester River Association (now part of ShoreRivers) gave Radcliffe Creek a grade of “D” for poor water clarity and high nutrient levels. However, on this particular day, the water was running clear and the streambed revealed thick, lush grass beds full of wild celery. Wild celery is a native grass that provides important habitat for a wide variety of marine organisms and serves as an important food source for waterfowl. The short video was filmed and narrated by SEF Vice President Chris Cerino, who expresses his astonishment at the conditions observed in the creek that day.

The proliferation of submerged aquatic vegetation (also known as SAVs) in Radcliffe Creek coincides with an upward trend for grasses Bay-wide. In 2017, the Chesapeake contained over 100,000 acres of SAVs for the first time since scientists started monitoring SAV levels in the late 1970s. The grasses serve as a keystone species for Bay health, as they can only survive in water clear enough to allow sunlight to reach the bottom. Thus, increasing levels of grasses generally coincide with healthier water conditions in the estuary.

The Sultana Education Foundation in Chestertown offers a diverse variety of history and science-based field programs serving students and teachers throughout Maryland and beyond. For more information please go here

 

The Meditation-Yoga Team of Anne Briggs and Wendy Morrison

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Like every other vocation or profession in the greater Chestertown area, there had to be a few early pioneers who first brought that service to the community.  While these typically are commercial in nature, it can also be something like a new concept or practice.

And that is the case in Kent County and classes in meditation and yoga. Wendy Morrison was the first to offer yoga classes at the Kent County Public Library in 1985. Anne Briggs, the former librarian for the Kent County Public Library, started her meditation courses in 2001.

These two folks are once again coming together through the Insight Meditation Community of Chestertown which will host the Briggs-Morrison team again in leading a six-week introduction to mindfulness. At the heart of this will be teaching this practice to “cultivate a clear, stable, and non-judgmental awareness.”

The Spy was curious about all this, as well as the unique relationship meditation and yoga have had over centuries, so we sat down with Anne and Wendy last week at Spy HQ for a brief chat.

This video is approximately three minutes in length.

Classes, which will be held at the Chester River Friends Meeting House, 124 Philosophers Terrace, Chestertown monday evenings from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. beginning September 10, 2018. There is a $25.00 registration fee, which can be mailed to Anne Briggs at 220 N. Kent Street, Chestertown, Md. 21620. Checks should be made payable to IMC – Chestertown, and accompanied by your email address and telephone number. For further information, please get in touch with Anne Briggs by telephone at 410-778-1746, or by e-mail at info@imc-chestertown.org, or consult the group’s web site at www.imc-chestertown.org.

340 WC Students Bond with Town By Rolling up Sleeves

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Wearing bright green T-shirts and armed with everything from dust masks and iPhones to hammers and wire brushes, more than 340 new Washington College students and their peer mentors descended on downtown Chestertown on Wednesday, August 23, to help local business owners with everything from social media advice to prepping buildings for renovation.

Part of new-student orientation before classes begin, the collaboration between the College, the Downtown Chestertown Association, and others introduced new students to the community of Chestertown in a very hands-on way and gave local business leaders a chance to connect with students from the moment they arrived in town. After their two hours of work, the students were treated to a get-together in Fountain Park with homemade ice cream from Lockbriar & Daughter Ice Cream.

“I was driving around town today and saw a ton of kids with green shirts helping out the town,” Mayor Chris Cerino told the students at the park gathering. “Thank you for the service you bring. I look forward to hanging out with at least some of you for the next four years.”

The students split up into groups and joined with businesses and community members to work on a multitude of projects. In one location, students helped Kay MacIntosh, economic development and marketing coordinator for the town’s Arts & Entertainment District, finish painting Chestertown-themed designs on decorative trash barrels that will be used for special events. In another, they helped business owner Jeff McGuire haul out bucket after bucket of demolition material from the second floor of Play It Again Sam’s, where he’s creating a new space for live music and gathering.

Students helped John Schratweiser, director of the Kent County Arts Council, prep part of the Vincent and Leslie Prince Raimond Arts Building for a new renovation. They picked up trash on the Gilchrest walking trail, scraped benches in Wilmer Park to ready them for painting, worked with a local veteran’s association to make cards for veterans who are overseas, cleaned windows for the local clay studio, painted a dry-erase wall for KIDSPOT, a children’s art studio, and worked with ShoreRivers to clean up the shoreline.

“Almost 30 groups in Chestertown have created community service project time for these groups,” said Laura Johnstone Wilson, coordinator of the Explore orientation program for first-year students. “These are very thoughtful creative projects that are helping at every level.”

About two-dozen students met with individual merchants to talk about how to reach and market to students via social media. Afterwards, Jenn Baker, president of the Downtown Chestertown Association and owner of Chester River Wine & Cheese and Welcome Home, sat down with them outside Wine & Cheese to give them some local know-how and to ask them questions. She gave them hashtags and Facebook pages to follow to keep up with local events and information, and encouraged them to explore neighboring shops as well as other nearby communities and opportunities in Kent County.

“It’s so fun for us,” she said. “The infusion of young, fresh, vibrant ideas gives us a whole new perspective,” Baker says. “We depend on young people to say, ‘Here’s what I’d like to see in your store.’ And in a town this small, the economic impact of even five students and their parents coming into your store is important. We want feedback from them.”

Carla Massoni, owner of Massoni Art Gallery, had three students talk with her about social media and marketing. She was so impressed with one of them that she hired her on the spot to work part-time to help her learn how to more dynamically engage potential gallery goers.

“This was a superb event for the College and the town,” Massoni said. “As a business owner downtown, the welcome that the business community put out was terrific, and the enthusiasm that the kids brought was also great. So often we don’t see them till their junior or senior year. They had an opportunity to be truly engaged.”

 

September First Friday Celebrates Chestertown United

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Chestertown LIVES UNITED. The First Friday of every month participating Downtown Chestertown Association (DCA) members open their doors and invite the community to step inside for an evening of food, music, art, and shopping. During First Friday we celebrate our community and thank customers for shopping local and shopping small.

Please join us Friday, September 7 from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. as the DCA unites with The United Way of Kent County, Washington College, and the 26 local United Way Agencies who make our community a great place to live.

We’ve planned an evening filled with fun. Stroll High Street to meet local non-profit organizations who will share their vision and goals for an even greater Kent County. Visit the United Way booth outside of Chesapeake Bank and Trust to learn more about their annual giving campaign. Meet Kurt Landgraf, President of Washington College, at The Hynson-Ringgold House from 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. Slip inside our small independently-owned shops for the latest fall merchandise and fantastic sales on late-summer merchandise. Visit Chestertown RiverArts for the Abstract and Ceramics Show and Massoni Art Gallery for a celebration of work by artist Ken Schiano.

We’re excited to host Washington College student musicians Conor Maloney (5:15 at Gabriel’s Of Chestertown) Madison Morton (6:15 at CREATE), and Emma Hoey (7:15 at Blackbird Boutique). Check out local favorite, Dovetail, on the steps of Chesapeake Bank and Trust. As you stroll Park Row, High St., Cross St., and Cannon St., look for giveaways, snacks, cold drinks, sales, games, and more.

Fountain Park will be transformed into a fun-zone with free corn-hole and activities for all. At 8:00 p.m. the Chestertown Recreation Commission will host a free screening of Beauty and the Beast. In addition to our downtown restaurants, enjoy food by the Walker Family Fried Food Truck, Suzie Bee Hand pies, and Lockbriar Ice Cream along Park Row.

The 26 participating United Way Agencies include: American Red Cross of the Delmarva Peninsula, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Eastern Shore, Del-Mar-Va-Council BSA, Camp Fairlee/Easter Seals, Character Counts! Kent County, Community Food Pantry, Community Mediation Upper Shore, Compass Regional Hospice, Echo Hill Outdoor School, Fiddlesticks! Youth Orchestra, For All Seasons, Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Council, Good Neighbor Fund/ CVMA, Horizons of Kent & Queen Anne’s, Kent Association of Therapeutic Riding, Kent County CARES Foundation, Kent County Medical Day Care Fdn., Kent Forward, KidSPOT, Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence, Playmakers Camp (@GCA), Rebuilding Together, RHYC Sailing School Scholarship Program, Saint Martin’s Ministries, Samaritan Group, United Needs and Abilities.

For more information about First Friday, please contact Jennifer Laucik-Baker of the Downtown Chestertown Association at downtownchestertown@gmail.com, or visit www.facebook.com/downtownchestertown for a full lineup of events.