Tour, Toast and Taste Promises Rare Glimpse Inside Lombardy Estate

On June 9th, Pickering Creek Audubon Center’s Tour, Toast & Taste will be held at Joe and Missy Walsh’s Lombardy in Unionville. The event will afford guests a rare look inside Lombardy and a great opportunity to socialize and add culinary adventures to their social calendars for the next year. We’ll also be celebrating the Year of the Bird. 2018 marks the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the most powerful and important bird-protection law ever passed. In honor of this milestone, nature lovers around the world are joining forces to celebrate the “Year of the Bird” and commit to protecting birds today and for the next hundred years.

Just around the corner from the 400-acre wildlife sanctuary and nature education center, in Unionville, Lombardy is a perfect fit for this year’s Tour, Toast and Taste event to benefit the education programs of Pickering Creek Audubon Center, the Shore’s premiere environmental center connecting people with birds, habitat and the Chesapeake Bay.

There are two noteworthy buildings at Lombardy. The larger, five part house, known as Lombardy, is a beautiful three story, colonial revival structure of the 1930s with a Mt. Vernon porch.  Immediately adjacent is an early nineteenth century, one and a half story, three bay brick house that was constructed around 1830.  Today’s Lombardy was built and inhabited by the great grandfather of Pickering Creek Audubon Center Board of Trustees member Dirck Bartlett. The father of another recent Pickering Trustee, Colin Walsh, also owned it before being purchased by its current owners, Joe and Missy Walsh, who are not related to the previous Walshs. Joe and Missy Walsh have conducted significant renovations to the buildings and made impressive improvements to the outdoor amenities as well.

The oldest existing building on the site, dating from the early nineteenth century.

The evening begins with a leisurely drive down a long, beautiful tree lined drive. Upon arrival, guests tour seven first floor rooms beautifully decorated by Mrs. Walsh.  The rooms feature significant original woodwork and other detail features as well as artwork that has remained with the house over the course of several owners.  Mrs. Walsh has tastefully decorated each of the rooms, retaining the overall flavor of the house while adding many attractive embellishments.  In addition to seeing seven first floor rooms guests will have an opportunity to view both of the second floor wings from the second floor landing.  Several generations of owners will be on hand to share the history of the house as well as how it got to its present state of perfection.

After the house tour guests will adjourn to a pleasantly breezy riverfront tent overlooking the Miles for cocktails, delicious hors d’ouevres, and light entertainment from Justin Ryan. At the sound of the bell, guests will have the opportunity to purchase a wide variety of intriguing dinners, unique events and auction items offered by strong supporters of the community-based education programs of Pickering Creek Audubon Center. In the spirit of the Year of the Bird this year’s live auction includes a wonderful trip to view migrating Sandhill Cranes in Nebraska, where every March, over 600,000 Sandhill Cranes converge on the Platte River valley in central Nebraska to fuel up before continuing north to their nesting grounds.

The evening concludes with a special presentation of live raptors of Maryland by naturalist and friend of the Center, Mike Callahan.  Callahan is an expert on barn owls and raptors and introduces the public to them through his work with the Southern Maryland Audubon Society and Charles County Public Schools.  Guests will have an opportunity to learn about the birds and see them up close.

A view of the main estate house from the Miles River.

The Tour, Toast & Taste committee consists of a group of loyal Pickering supporters including Jo Storey, Bill Griffin, Tom Sanders, Dave Bent, Cheryl Tritt, Dirck Bartlett, Debra Rich, Carol Thompson, and Colin Walsh. This year’s Tour, Toast & Taste is generously sponsored by the Bill Davenport and Bruce Wiltsie, Out of the Fire Restaurant, Capital Blackbook, William and Mary Griffin, the Tilghman Family, Bartlett, Griffin and Vermilye, Wye Gardens, LLC, the Dock Street Foundation, the Chesapeake Audubon Society, The Hill Group at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, the Wilford Group at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Phil and Charlotte Sechler, Tidewater Physical Therapy, Avon Dixon Insurance, Wye Financial & Trust, Shore United Bank, Shorebancshares, Cheryl Tritt and Phil Walker, Colin Walsh and Carolyn Williams, Courtney and Scott Pastrick, Clay Railey and Don Wooters, the Star Democrat, Rick Scobey and Bruce Ragsdale, Ewing Dietz Fountain and Kaludis, Jo Storey and many more.

For over 30 years, Pickering Creek Audubon Center has provided environmental education opportunities to students of the Eastern Shore, moving them from awareness of their watershed and birds to conservation action in their communities.  Since establishing a well-reputed elementary education program in partnership with Talbot County Public Schools 25 years ago, Audubon has added meaningful watershed experiences for middle and high school students to our continuum of education along with community outreach education about our regions unique saltmarshes. Pickering Creek reaches the people of the Eastern Shore throughout their academic careers outdoor learning experiences that encourage them to continue interacting with the outdoors frequently.

Tickets and more information are available online at  For more information call the Center at 410-822-4903.

Compatibility Determination for Forest Management on Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has announced the compatibility determination for forest management on Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is available for public comment.  The Service developed this compatibility determination to facilitate evaluation of the proposed refuge use, including anticipated impacts of the activity and stipulations to ensure compatibility.

Forest management, including the commercial harvest of trees, is the most feasible and practical way of maintaining or enhancing habitat for the wide array of forest dependent species on the refuge. Forest management on the refuge is used to encourage tree species that produce food for wildlife, such as oaks, thinning of pine stands that are susceptible to southern pine beetle and other insect infestations, and to maintain or increase the structural diversity of refuge forests. There have been no significant changes to the forest management program on the refuge since the last compatibility determination was completed in 2006.

The compatibility determination is available for viewing at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge headquarters, and on the refuge website at Comments should be submitted in writing to the attention of Mr. Matt Whitbeck, Wildlife Biologist, at Chesapeake Marshlands NWRC, 2145 Key Wallace Drive, Cambridge, MD 21613; or Comments will be accepted until June 8, 2018.

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, protects over 29,000 acres of rich tidal marsh, mixed hardwoods and pine forest, managed freshwater wetlands and cropland for a diversity of wildlife.  To learn more, visit our website at or @BlackwaterNWR.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit with our Facebook page at, follow our tweets at, watch our YouTube Channel at and download photos from our Flickr page at

CBEC Graduates Legacy Institute For The Environment

The Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center recently graduated 18 participants in its premier Legacy Institute for the Environment (LIFE) Program. LIFE is an adult Chesapeake Bay Education/Stewardship Program.

The mission of the LIFE program is to build social capital for the environment by providing lifelong learning opportunities and meaningful stewardship roles for adults. Participants build knowledge, skill and relationships through educators and scientists from an array of environmental agencies and organizations.

LIFE graduates are expected to use their new knowledge as CBEC volunteers for a year and to serve other non-profit organizations dedicated to a healthy watershed.

This year the class heard speakers from the Kate Livie from the Sultana Education Foundation, the MD Department of Natural Resources, Sweet Briar College, Washington College, Shore Rivers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the University of Maryland, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Maryland League of Conservation Voters, Master Gardeners, and MD Department of Commerce representing the Agriculture sector. They spoke on issues such as bay restoration, land management, and animal and plant conservation.

The graduates, who will be honored at CBEC’s Annual Volunteer Appreciation Banquet in November 2018, include Tami Weber, Corey Bryce, Susan Buckingham, Robert Ware, Linda Hubbard, Linda Broderick, Beth Stewart, Jackie Weaver, Sara Shelley, Janice Stringer, Jean Cozzolino, Karen Paradiso, Karyln Frendya, Katherine Bishop, Katherine Schinasi, Margaret Young, Mary Ann Veris, Patty Dowd.

CBEC Volunteer and Adult Education Coordinator Courtney Leigh said, “The LIFE program offers a unique opportunity for citizens to learn current and relevant information about the health of the Chesapeake Bay through engaging educational sessions and field experiences guided by experts from governmental and non-governmental organizations.”

More than 195 stewards have graduated from the program since its inception in 2004.

The 9-session program takes place at CBEC in March and April. For information on the 2019 program, email Courtney Leigh at or consult CBEC’s web site at

The Humane Gardener Author to Speak June 1 at Adkins Arboretum

Hailed as “a passionate and well-researched rallying cry” and as “a palatable and beautifully produced message that…gardeners need to hear,” the best-selling book The Humane Gardener: Nurturing a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife is an eloquent plea for compassion and respect for all species. Join the author, Nancy Lawson, Fri., June 1 at Adkins Arboretum to learn how and why to welcome wildlife to your backyard.

A longtime columnist for All Animals magazine, Lawson is the founder of Humane Gardener, an outreach initiative dedicated to cultivating compassion for all creatures great and small through animal-friendly, environmentally sensitive landscaping methods. Her book fills a unique niche in describing simple principles for both attracting wildlife and peacefully resolving conflicts with the creatures that share our world. Through engaging anecdotes, inspired advice, profiles of gardeners throughout the country, and interviews with scientists and horticulturists, Lawson applies the broader lessons of ecology to our own outdoor spaces.

The talk begins at 1 p.m. and is $15 for Arboretum members, $20 for non-members. Advance registration is appreciated at or by calling 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. For more information, visit or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

ShoreRivers and St. Michaels Students Complete Environmental Action Project

Working with ShoreRivers’ environmental education program, Students for Streams, St. Michaels Middle High School biology students have successfully completed an environmental action project that improves both their school campus and local water quality. They investigated local water quality in the Miles River, assessed nearby land use, and identified both positive and negative environmental factors on their school property. During their assessment of the grounds, students focused on an eroding storm drain behind the elementary school, noting how sediment entering the drain negatively impacted water clarity in the nearby river. Students proposed correcting the erosion by stabilizing the slope leading to the drain and planting native species in the drainage area.

Students sitting next to the finished drain project with Miles-Wye Riverkeeper Elle Bassett (left side front row in hat).

After presenting their ideas to both ShoreRivers and Talbot County Public Works, students successfully created an implementation plan. Talbot County donated time and equipment, and students implemented the plan on April 24. Chesapeake Bay Trust funded the project.

On May 2, Students had the opportunity to share the success of their program at the Howard County Conservancy’s Environmental Summit in Annapolis, where they presented their work, data they collected in partnership with ShoreRivers, and final project outcomes. Elected officials and schools from across Maryland attended. Delegate Johnny Mautz was impressed with the students’ work done in his district, and noted that it was a “great project.”

Miles-Wye Riverkeeper Elle Bassett has been working with these students since the beginning of the school year. “This student action project is a success not only for improving water quality, but also for engaging students, instilling in them a sense of ownership of their environment and a better understanding of environmental best practices. This hands-on environmental education is an example to students of how their actions can have a real-life impact.”

Pictured L-R: Ashley Henckel, Jane Whitelock (teacher), Delegate Johnny Mautz, Eddie Robinson, Winfield Devaric, Lexie Jordan, Nathan Simpkins, Isaiah Holliday

Teacher Jane Whitelock described the experience. “As a classroom teacher, I am grateful to our community partners for making this project possible. Their support allowed the students to be empowered to take on a project of this magnitude and discover that they could indeed make a difference in their community. I can’t express how proud I am of the hard work our students put into making the storm drain restoration project a success.”

ShoreRivers will work with Talbot County, Dorchester County, and Queen Anne’s County Public Schools in the coming school year to continue implementing environmental education programming that highlights stewardship practices. For more information on Students for Streams, please contact Elle Bassett at 443.385.0511 or

ShoreRivers protects and restores Eastern Shore waterways through science-based advocacy, restoration, and education. We work collaboratively with our community yet maintain an uncompromising and independent voice for clean rivers and the living resources they support.

ShoreRivers Hosts First Annual State of the Chester, Wye, and Eastern Bay

ShoreRivers will host its first annual State of the Rivers presentation focusing on the Chester and Wye Rivers and Eastern Bay on Wednesday, May 16 at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center (CBEC), located at 600 Discovery Lane in Grasonville. The event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 5:30pm for a reception with beer, wine and light fare. Mingle with representatives and learn about other local organizations, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, CBEC, Kent Island Beach Clean Up, Corsica River Conservancy, Gunston School, and Washington College’s Center for Environment and Society. The formal presentation will begin at 6:00pm. Chester Riverkeeper Tim Trumbauer, Miles-Wye Riverkeeper Elle Bassett, and other ShoreRivers staff will present the 2017 Chester River and Midshore Report Cards and discuss the latest water quality trends.

This is a new location and the final in a series of five ShoreRivers State of the Rivers events conducted in April and May, unveiling the results of extensive water quality monitoring. Other presentations took place in St. Michaels, Cambridge, Chestertown, and Cecilton, detailing water quality results forthe Miles, Wye, Choptank, Chester, and Sassafras Rivers. If you weren’t able to attend any of the previous four presentations, the May 16 event will be the last chance to attend this year’s events.

The data for the Chester River Report Card and the Midshore Report Card was collected by a combination of experienced ShoreRivers water quality scientists and dedicated volunteer teams of Midshore Creek watchers and Chester Testers citizen-scientists. In addition to learning about tested parameters and grades, attendees will also gain insight on ways to lessen their yard’s impact on our rivers through the River-Friendly Yards campaign and Marylander’s Grow Oyster program.

ShoreRivers is a newly-formed entity resulting from the recent merger of Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, Chester River Association, and Sassafras River Association into a unified region-wide organization. ShoreRivers is now one committed voice for Eastern Shore rivers with greater influence on policy, increased capacity to enact programs, and more potential to undertake large restoration projects. For more information about ShoreRivers, please visit

For more information about the May 16th State of the Rivers event, please contact Elle Bassett at 443.385.0511 or

ShoreRivers protects and restores Eastern Shore waterways through science-based advocacy, restoration, and education. We work collaboratively with our community yet maintain an uncompromising and independent voice for clean rivers and the living resources they support.

Tour the Shore: ShoreRivers’ Guided Kayak Paddles

Photo by Suzanne Sullivan

ShoreRivers is taking to the water and invites you to join our annual Tour the Shore guided kayak series on our local rivers. ShoreRivers is an environmental nonprofit whose mission is to protect and restore Eastern Shore waterways through science-based advocacy, restoration, and education. Tour the Shore introduces residents and visitors to our local rivers, while sharing our mission of cleaner water for all.This year’s paddle theme is Serene, as we paddle quiet creeks and rivers across the mid and upper Shore region. Choose one or more from the list below.

Date: May 18
Time: 10 am – 1 pm
Location: Hillsboro Landing, Tuckahoe Creek
Paddle Tuckahoe Creek while everything is lush and green and the air is cool. A very relaxing trip, Tuckahoe Creek meanders quietly through shady forest and is the perfect location to pack a fishing rod.

Date: June 22
Time: 2 pm – 4 pm
Location: Cambridge Creek Heritage Paddle
See downtown Cambridge from a water view as we paddle into Cambridge Creek, at the heart of the city. Paddle guide Brian Roche of Choptank Heritage Trail will take us past the Choptank River Lighthouse, JM Clayton Seafood Company, and to the head of the creek, the site for the proposed Cannery Park.

Date: July 27
Time: 6 pm – 9:30 pm
Location: Turners Creek, Kennedyville
Paddle the serene Sassafras River as the sun sets and the full moon rises! Gather on the sandy shores for a BYO picnic dinner ahead of time.

Date: August 17
Time: 10 am – 2 pm
Location: Wye Island paddle and hike
A summer favorite, paddle the shores of Wye Island and hop out of the boat for lunch and a walk through one of the Eastern Shore’s old growth forests. Stay cool under trees as old as 300 hundred years as you hike the Schoolhouse Trail back to the boats.

Date: September 28
Time: 10 am – 1 pm
Location: Morgan Creek, Chestertown
Morgan Creek is a gentle paddle off of the Chester River that takes you past marsh lined farm fields and wooded shores. Borrow a pair of ShoreRivers’ binoculars to help spot bald eagles and wading birds.

Paddlers can bring their own kayaks or rent ShoreRivers’ kayaks. Reservations are limited, so contact Suzanne at 443,385.0511 or to reserve your spot. Tours are $30 for non-members, $20 for members, and kayak rentals are an additional $30 per person.

ShoreRivers protects and restores Eastern Shore waterways through science-based advocacy, restoration, and education. We work collaboratively with our community yet maintain an uncompromising and independent voice for clean rivers and the living resources they support.

Environmental Concern Holds 18th Annual Spring Native Plant Sale

More and more homeowners are planting rain gardens, butterfly gardens and stormwater management gardens. Home gardeners are reaping the benefits by reconnecting with nature and bringing the practice of planting native into their own backyards.

The 18th Annual Spring Plant Sale at Environmental Concern’s Campus in St. Michaels is the perfect place to get inspired, and to pick up native plants grown in EC’s nursery. This year’s sale takes place on Mother’s Day weekend, Friday, May 11th and Saturday, May 12th   from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Garden lovers will find new species, and the popular favorites that have made this event an annual tradition for Eastern Shore gardeners for nearly 2 decades. Growing more than 100 species of shrubs and herbaceous plants for over 46 years, Environmental Concern hosts one of the largest native plant sales on the Eastern Shore.

In addition to the plant sale, EC will host workshops that will inspire and educate customers. “Milkweeds for Monarchs” will be held from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. each day. Participants will learn about the Monarch butterfly, and the dependence of the Monarch caterpillars on native milkweed for survival. Recommendations for plant selection and habitat creation techniques will encourage even first time gardeners to dig in, and get wet and muddy – and don’t forget to shop for the perfect Mother’s day plant. Our experts will be on hand to help you with your plant selection.

There will be a large selection of flowering herbaceous perennials and hardy shrubs. Highlights include colorful red columbines (Aquilegia canadensis) with red and yellow showy, drooping, bell-like flowers, and the Joe pye weed (Eupatorium dubium) which is very attractive to beneficial pollinators. Additional offerings include the Swamp sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius), Blue flag iris (Iris versicolor), and the Northern sea oat (Chasmanthium latifolium), known for its interesting flat foliage and unique seed heads.

Visit Environmental Concern’s Nursery in historic St. Michaels at 201 Boundary Lane. Watch for signs along St. Michaels Road. For more information, call 410-745-9620.

Environmental Concern is a 501(c)3 public not-for-profit organization. All proceeds from the plant sale will help fund EC’s mission to improve water quality and enhance native habitat in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Mrs. Anna Howie will Join Talbot Schools Curriculum Team

Talbot County Public Schools has announced that Mrs. Anna Howie will join the curriculum team as Supervisor of Career and Technology Education Programs effective July 1, 2018.  Mrs. Howie will replace Mrs. Pamela Clay, who will retire at the end of June after a long and distinguished career with Talbot County Public Schools. In addition, Mrs. Howie will be providing coaching support to middle school math teachers to improve student achievement.

“Career and Technology Education truly makes a difference for our students and their future,” said Dr. Helga Einhorn, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction.  “This is why it was so important to me to find someone who can continue to lead our programs with not only expertise but also a passion for student success.  I am looking forward to Mrs. Anna Howie joining our team in this very important role.  Her experience in mathematics will be an additional asset in supporting teaching and learning.”

Mrs. Howie earned a Bachelor of Industrial Engineering (BIE) degree from Georgia Institute of Technology in 1999.  She holds an Advanced Professional Certificate in Mathematics for grades 7-12 and Middle School Mathematics (grades 4-9), and is certified as Administrator I.   She earned a Masters in Administration and Supervision from the University of Phoenix in 2014.

Howie currently serves as Supervisor of Mathematics and Accountability for Dorchester County Public Schools, where she has worked since 2002.   She began her career teaching middle school science, social studies, mathematics and physical education.  She has also served as Instructional Mathematics Coach, Assistant Human Resources Administrator, and Local Accountability Coordinator. Other professional development includes attending the Women in Education Leadership Conference and the Aspiring Principals Institute.

Mrs. Howie comes from a line of educators who have served Talbot County. Her grandfather, Willis Scott, Sr. taught Industrial Arts at Moton High School and her mother, Peggy Scott-Rice was an English teacher at Easton Middle School. She lives in Easton with her husband, Kirk Howie, principal of Easton High School, and their children Jaylen, KJ, and Teagan.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Recognizes Volunteers at Blackwater Refuge

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recognized Blackwater NWR volunteers at the Volunteer Appreciation Dinner held on April 26, 2018 at the Elks Lodge #1272 in Cambridge.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service recognized volunteers of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) last Thursday evening in celebration of the outstanding contributions they have made to Blackwater NWR during 2017. Volunteers assist in all aspects of the refuge, from staffing the Visitor Center seven days a week, maintaining the butterfly garden, and assisting with environmental education and outreach events, to carpentry projects, nest box monitoring, facility and trail maintenance, bird surveys, boundary posting, and more. During 2017, 198 volunteers contributed 9,747 hours of their time to the refuge.

Every year, Blackwater NWR honors and distinguishes a volunteer for their exemplary performance throughout the year. This year, Beverly Middleton of East New Market received the 2017 Volunteer of the Year Award for her dedicated service to the refuge. Ms. Middleton staffs the front desk in the Visitor Center every week, assists with outreach events throughout the year, and photographs refuge habitats and wildlife for use on various refuge social media sites and other publications. Ms. Middleton has donated over 1,600 hours of volunteer service to the refuge since 2014.

Special recognition was also given to volunteers reaching key milestones in their service to Blackwater NWR. Award pins and certificates were presented to the following volunteers for reaching milestones in the number of years they have volunteered at Blackwater NWR: Leslie Baker, Sue Fischer, Andy Schneider, Heather Scrimshaw and Jed Scrimshaw for five years of service, Lisa Mayo and Chuck Mock for 15 years of service, and Helen Davies and Paul Smail for 20 years of service.

Award pins and certificates were also presented to volunteers reaching milestones in the total number of accumulated hours they have contributed to the refuge since they began. Those recognized include: Linda Chandlee, Ellie Ludvigsen, Janet Mackey, Nick Roetzel, Peter Smithson and George Wilson (50 hours), Lisa Carvallo, Carrie Harper, Ben Hunt, Ron Ketter, Gary Middleton, Katherine Slaughter, and Erica Weick (100 hours), Cathy Beise, Karl McGovern, Ellen Mousin, Maureen Rice, Stan Trice and Elaine Wilson (250 hours), and June Middleton, Jane Sebring, Carol Walker, Edward Walker, and Vicki Zobel (500 hours).

Those volunteers accumulating 1,000 hours or more are listed on the refuge’s “Volunteer Hall of Fame” plaque. They include: Lynda Hicken, Mary Horney and Ron Horney (1000 hours), Beverly Middleton (1500 hours), Edward Hessler and Mary Lynch (2000 hours), Dennis Ewell (3500 hours), and Cindy Bech (6500 hours). Each volunteer reaching these set milestones received a special recognition gift for their volunteer efforts.