Like many similar organizations during the last two years, the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center in Grasonville experienced a slowdown of operations because of Covid. It was forced to cut back on such popular activities as group facility rentals and environmental education experiences. At the same time, because of its convenient location, miles of serene nature trails, and access to the peaceful, pristine waters of the Chesapeake Bay, the CBEC premises frequently became a place for individuals and families to peacefully commune with nature and just-plain enjoy the outdoors.
“Despite the pandemic’s restrictions and safety protocols, we at CBEC stayed busy listening to our visitors, researching what their future could be. As a result, CBEC’s Board and staff have upgraded our mission, vision, and values to do even better what we’ve done for over 20 years,” said Carl Tenner, CBEC Board Chair. Associate Director, Vicki Paulas, was promoted to Executive Director and long-tenured Director, Judy Wink, graciously agreed to remain at CBEC, serving as Executive Director Emeritus. “Judy has played a vital role at our organization for a long time and we are excited she’ll continue on to help shepherd us along on CBEC’s course for the future”, stated Tenner.
A visit to the website – bayrestoration.org – will reflect the organization’s renewed vision and focus on the future. Of note, CBEC plans to build a new Education Pavilion at its Lake Knapp location, upgrade as well as construct new boardwalks on and around the woods, fields and wetlands on the property – including creating new trails in the northwestern portion of the property. A major component of building for the future will be restoring much of the shoreline and marshland in and around the Horsehead Peninsula, CBEC’s principal location.
“Along with the generous support of our members and friends, we’ve been fortunate to receive several Federal, State, and local grants to enable CBEC to enhance and expand its mission,” Executive Director Paulas stated. “While we’ve been known for the learning and fun of our nature-oriented summer camp programs, few know that our education programs extend year around.” CBEC frequently hosts field training for organizations like Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources, visits from elementary, middle and high school science and environmental education classes, as well as retreats for corporate, private and public organizations. Ms. Paulas clarified, “Few locations on the Chesapeake Bay offer the diversity of landscapes and environments – woods, meadows, and marshes – that our visitors can experience here at CBEC. And, we are so conveniently located, just over the Bay Bridge here in Queen Anne’s County.”
The Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center’s chief mission continues to be focused on environmental education, Chesapeake Bay wildlife and habitat research, and environmental stewardship and sustainability. Over the last 20 years, CBEC has hosted over 15,000 students, teachers, and researchers at its 510-acre preserve. Director Paulas calls it “hands-on, feet-wet” learning. CBEC maintains over four miles of trails and boardwalks, several elevated observation decks, a number of geocaching sites; even an “Owl Cam” for observing these fascinating birds’ habits without disturbing them. In the near future, CBEC also plans to install a similar “Osprey Cam” for viewers to observe these fascinating birds.
CBEC is headquartered in an LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified building located in the center of the CBEC property. Besides staff offices, this “green” building includes a visitors’ and education center, conference rooms, a great hall, and kitchen. From this facility, visitors can easily access the numerous opportunities to experience the beauty of the Chesapeake Bay’s natural habitat. A dock, located on Marshy Creek, facilitates the numerous kayakers who want to directly experience the Bay from the water. CBEC maintains a number of kayaks for members and guests to use. “The Covid-19 ‘circumstances’ created a unique opportunity for us. The number of walkers, hikers, bikers, and – especially – kayakers has increased exponentially over the last year and a half,” commented Paulas.
“As a key community resource, all of us at CBEC look forward to strengthening and enhancing our services focused on education, conservation, stewardship and recreation,” said Board Chair, Tenner. “As a nonprofit organization, CBEC relies on memberships as well as public and private support. We welcome the interest and engagement of those who value the experiences and programs we offer.”
To learn more about CBEC’s mission, programs, membership and volunteer opportunities, visit their website at bayrestoration.org or call CBEC at 410-827-6694.