The recipient of the Community Partner of the Year award is chosen based on their commitment to powerful impact in communities, fostering active citizenship, and utilizing the efforts of alternative break groups to forward their vision.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Community Partner: Chesapeake Bay Foundation | Annapolis, Maryland
Site Contact: David Tana | Restoration, Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator
Nominator: Julia Keene | Alternative Break Intern, University of Maryland Alternative Breaks
“I had no idea what the Chesapeake Bay meant to the people and environment of Maryland, as well as the greater area that comprises its watershed. However, after extensive time spent learning about the Bay, potting and conducting maintenance on trees, as well as constructing oyster habitats, it has become clear to me just how important the efforts by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to save this national treasure truly are.”
About the Organization:
Chesapeake Bay Foundation works to restore the bay to its natural state. Since 1967, Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) has been the largest independent conservation organization dedicated solely to “saving the Bay” - their motto, which serves as a regional rallying cry for pollution reduction in the watershed (home to more than 17 million people and 3,000 species of animals and plants). Through advocacy, education, litigation, and restoration efforts, CBF aims for the Chesapeake Bay and its tributary rivers to be broadly recognized as a national treasure.
Connections to Community
CBF believes in making the Bay accessible to all through engaging community members in the shared value of environmental stewardship and recreation. Community members can be involved in work including creating oyster gardens in the inner harbor areas, bringing CBF scientists to local schools, planting trees in neighborhoods, engaging watermen in Bay clean ups, and collaborating with farmers to improve water quality. Community members are both affected by the bay and part of the effort to help save the bay.
“CBF is not an outside organization that was transplanted into a community; it is an organization made up of people who live in the community, work on the water, and experience the detrimental effects of an unhealthy Bay.”
Volunteers engaged in meaningful work
Teams work directly alongside CBF staff members in removing invasive species growing around tree shelters, planting native trees and plants along the watershed, removing waste from the shorelines and storm drains, and creating oyster reef balls to provide habitats for marine organisms. Teams learn about the different strategies to help improve the bay from CBF scientists including topics around phosphorus levels, plant life, and water clarity. Through collaboration with CBF, breakers engage in hands-on field programs to actively combat the negative effects of agricultural, industrial, and human influence on the area.
Compelling Issue Education, Orientation, and Training
UMD Alternative Breaks has partnered with Chesapeake Bay Foundation since 2008 to engage breakers in service and action to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay. In the 9 year partnership, UMD has sent week-long trips, held days of service, and hosted Alternative Weekend trips in both the spring and the fall.
CBF provides a strong educational background on environmental conservation and perspective on how the biodiversity of the bay impacts people’s everyday lives. Students also learn about policy and advocacy work around restoration efforts in Maryland. CBF staff are committed to immersing themselves in the experience by spending time educating participants:
“We had a conversation about oysters, restoration, and sanctuaries with Maryland Fisheries Scientist, Allison Colden, and Maryland Scientist, Doug Myers, which lasted about two and a half hours. Everyone was very involved during this discussion and we learned a lot about the fight to keep the oyster population stable as well as the biology of the bay.”
“The intelligent and incredibly kind people at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation have welcomed our group with open arms - it is an extremely optimistic thing to see that the future of the Chesapeake is in the hands of such inspiring people.”
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