Ecosystem: Midshore Riverkeepers in Talbot County Classrooms as well as Rivers

No doubt, the most visible and every present sign of the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy’s work is when one spots their clearly-identified patrol boats on the Choptank, Miles or Wye Rivers. For almost ten years, the MRC has made it their mission to advocate and protect those rivers through careful monitoring and partnerships with farmers and watermen in the region.

But that is only half of the story of what the MRC does in Talbot County. As an organization committed as much to education as to conservation, the Riverkeeper Conservancy has been working for the last four years with Talbot County Public Schools to bring a unique awareness and appreciation to its students.

The Spy wanted to see firsthand what kind of educational programming this looked like and quickly jumped at an invitation to observe MRC education coordinators Elle O’Brien and Suzanne Sullivan at St. Michaels Middle High School last week on oyster harvesting. Hosted by science teacher Lauren Greer’s 9th-grade environmental education class, the two MRC staffers work with students in the classroom, as well as outside, to learn the importance of sustainability over the semester.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information on the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy please go here.


Profiles in Philanthropy: Trustee Dick Bodorff on the Academy, CBMM, and the YMCA

Periodically, the country’s new president has referred to some his cabinet appointments as coming from “central casting.” Using his unique phrasing, President Trump is clearly referring to a person who is a perfect fit to a particularly difficult position to fill.

That definition could very easily apply to Talbot County’s Richard Bodorff and the extraordinary roles he has played on local Talbot County nonprofit boards.

A Washington DC lawyer during the week, with an exceptional background in the world of the federal communications law and regulations, Dick and his wife have made Talbot County their second home the last seventeen years. But rather than simply pursue his love of boating and other recreation activities while in residence, Dick made it a point to truly invest in his adopted community by joining several important governing boards of local nonprofit organizations and bringing with him his special skills and Midwestern common sense.

The Spy sat down with Dick a few weeks ago at Bullitt House to talk about his background in communications starting as a kid growing up in Illinois, followed by a early career at the Federal Communications Commission, including work on the famous George Carlin “seven words” controversy, and eventually his role as partner at the law firm of Wiley, Rein, advising clients on the FCC’s incentive spectrum auction and regulatory advice. He currently serves on the boards Academy Art Museum, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, YMCA of the Chesapeake and shares his thoughts on those organization and what it meant to be successful nonprofit organization.

This video is approximately nine minutes in length

Hiking the AT for Talbot Homeless: A Long Walk Home with Robert Messick

There are a good number of ways to help raise funds for an organization you feel passionate about but rarely does that translate into taking six months to hike the Appalachian Trail.

Easton attorney Robert Messick recently made a decision to do just that which caught the Spy’s attention a few weeks ago when we first found out his fundraising project to support the Talbot Interfaith Shelter, a voluntary service organization dedicated to providing safe, temporary shelter to men, women, and children who lack adequate housing.

Robert is no stranger to long distance hiking. While raised in Talbot County, where he found his love of sailing log canoes, Robert started to get the hiking bug when he first attended law school in Northern California. And while he returned to the East Coast many years ago, he has kept up his passion for this solitary exercise for a good part of his adult life.

In his Spy interview, Robert talks about his love of hiking, his unique strategies to avoid the crowds along the 2,190 miles of trail, and his primary focus of helping his community’s homeless population.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information on Talbot Interfaith Shelter and the Long Walk Home project, please go here.


Mid-Shore Culture: For the Love of Cars in St. Michaels with Tad duPont

For more than fifty years the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels has been a standard in the world of nautical history and education, but it is safe to say that that makes the CBMM so special is that satisfies people’s special passion for boats. Families flock to the CBMM to look at and ride on boats, while individuals, from teens to senior adults, use the museum’s programs to learn how to build and repair them.

If Tad duPont, president of the Classic Motor Museum in St. Michaels, has his way, that same kind of passion will eventually be found for those who love of cars and motors at the soon to be open campus on East Marengo Street.

With the significant benefits of a historically restored house functioning as office and learning space, and the recent addition of a custom built barn, designed by Amish craftsman and capable of parking twenty-one rare automobiles, du Pont might very well get his wish.

Taking advantage of a community that has long been known for its love of old cars (there are more than 400 antique cars registered in Talbot County alone), the Classic Motor Museum’s leaders have a strong conviction that over time the CMM will be the Mid-Atlantic’s premier car destination.

The Spy talked to Tad last week about the origins of the Museum, the Museum’s launch plans, and his board’s effort to quickly reduce the $400,000 plus loans associated with the barn and campus improvement. He also talks about the extraordinary economic impact the Museum could potentially bring to the region.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about the Classic Motor Museum, please go here

In the Footsteps of Martin: Walter Black Jr. Looks Back on Civil Rights on the Eastern Shore

As Martin Luther King Day approaches at the same time the country’s first African-American president is preparing to leaves office, It’s a natural time to reflect on the significant arc of history for civil rights in the United States. And there are very few people in Talbot County that was in a better place to watch that history locally than Walter Black, Jr.

From the age of six, Walter started to realize that there was a racially-divided community when he noticed that white children were being picked up by different school buses than he and his friends. By the time he attended Morgan State in 1960, he had already been active in the NAACP on the Eastern Shore, and from that point forward has dedicated his life to fighting first segregation and later discrimination in Talbot County and the entire state of Maryland as a long-standing president of NAACP’s local chapter and a leadership role in coordinating the civil rights organization in Maryland.

In his Spy interview, Walter, who recently turned 80, remembers what it was like to live in a segregated world and also recalls the tensions that existed in Cambridge during the 1967 demonstrations. Walter also talks about the future of race relations as well as the need to keep Martin Luther King’s words always in mind that, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

This video is approximately eight minutes in length 

Catching Up with the St. Michaels Community Center

It seems like every year around this time the St. Michaels Community Center has to go through the rather difficult exercise of reminding the community they serve what they do when seeking annual support. This is not because they do so little but because every year this unique nonprofit helps so many in so many different ways that it is hard to keep it all straight.

For twelve months a year, the Community Center does dozens of programs for kids, for families, for seniors and those seeking food. They also run the community garden, a music program, and sponsor town public concerts. Add free dinners at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, and you get a better picture of the depth and range of this charity.

The Spy caught up with the St. Michaels Community Center director Trish Payne, and youth program director Pam Phillips to talk about these programs, hear about the organization’s building plans, and the need for a few angels in town to make that happen.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about the St. Michaels Community Center go here

The Tidewater’s John Wilson on the Business of Hospitality in Talbot, Queen Anne’s and Kent Counties

There is no getting around the fact that John Wilson, along with his Coastal South investment partners, has become one of the Mid-Shore’s unsung commercial development heroes over the last ten years. Starting with the Chesapeake Bay Club on Kent Island, followed by the remarkable turnaround of the Tidewater Inn in downtown Easton over the last seven years, and the more recently, the addition of fifty-four luxury rooms at The Inn at Chesapeake Bay Club earlier this year, Wilson has not only been given credit for bringing all these properties to new heights of sophistication and elegance to the region but has provided a significant economic engine for the communities they reside in as well.

In his Spy interview, John talks about the changes at Tidewater Inn, the significant footprint he has created on the shores of Kent Island, and some miscellaneous thoughts on what it would take for Chestertown to join the club of Mid-Shore communities who offer high-end accommodations and fine dining.

This video is approximately fifteen minutes in length. For more information on the Tidewater, please go here, and here for the Chesapeake Bay Club and Inn.

Spy Moment: Women Building Women Homes

At a time when the country is deciding whether to elect its first woman as president of the United States, it is amazing to see the remarkable shift in perception on what women can do in our 21st-century American culture. While these are most in evidence in such fields as business, healthcare, aviation, as well as with major political positions, it can also be seen on a more simple level, e.g. like swinging hammers to build houses.

That was certainly the case when the Women Build Committee form the Habitat for Humanity Choptank continued to work on their project on Pleasant Alley in Easton last Saturday. More than a dozen gathered with saws and hammers in hand to complete the three bedroom house for its new owner by February of next year.

The Spy caught up with building supervisor Rhodana Fields and Women Build Committee chair Phyllis Rambo to witness the special dynamic and sense of purpose created of when women work with other women.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information on Women Build at Habitit for Humanity Choptank, please go here

Making It on the Shore: Alex Haschen and IAMBOOST

There may be a website out there that is dedicated exclusively to kids from age ten to fifteen on their physical health, but Alex Haschen hasn’t found one yet. And as a result, and many years of other research, the Easton-based personal trainer turned on last month as a web extension of his local work with young people.

In his Spy interview, Alex talks about his business model and the potential market of working with parents and children on fitness through video and quiz programming. Another example of making it on the Shore.

This video is approximately four minutes in length

Centreville’s Kennard School Project’s Lessons with Clay Washington

For all the small Mid-Shore nonprofit organizations out there struggling to complete capital projects, there is good news to be found in talking to Clay Washington. Clay, the president of Kennard School Alumni Association, is the extraordinary leader of a remarkable Mid-Shore success story – the renovation of Queen Anne’s County’s only African-American high school in Queen Anne’s County -into a major community center and museum.

For the past ten years, Washington and his fellow board members have been focused on preserving this special historical school. While this has been a labor of love for the alum, the price of this kind of project has been high with almost $2 million dollars needed to open the facility.

Beyond celebrating the near completion of a great project, the lessons learned with the Kennard School project should be an inspiration for the entire Mid-Shore and so many other worthy restoration efforts in the region.

The Spy interview with Clay is divided into two parts. The first is a traditional long-form interview. The second is what we are calling a “drill down,” which gives even more information about Clay’s approach to raising capital funds.