Gov. Harry Hughes, one of the icons of the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort, will soon turn 80 years old. In his honor, a major environmental research institution will soon bear his name.

The Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology in Queenstown, MD, will be christened on Nov. 13.

In addition, a series of graduate level fellowships will be created in his honor.

Governor Hughes was one of the bright lights in 1983 that led to the signing of the original Chesapeake Bay Agreement. He seized the moment and launched the state of Maryland, and the whole multistate region, on the path to Chesapeake Bay restoration.

Governor Hughes’ “Bay Initiatives” were part of the first comprehensive statewide program aimed at cleaning up the Bay. His administration was the first to recognize that what happens on the land affects the water quality in the Bay and its tributaries.

And that water quality, ultimately, determines the health of underwater grasses and the habitat for blue crabs, oysters, migratory fish and other species.

The vital work that we are all continuing in restoring the Chesapeake Bay watershed, such as conserving soil, planting forest buffers and reducing erosion and sedimentation, began during Governor Hughes’ administration. His approach also included developing a better relationship with farmers and foresters by creating financial incentives for best management practices to achieve those goals.

Governor Hughes never wavered in his commitment to the Chesapeake Bay and to environmental causes that defined his career in public service.

In more recent years, Governor Hughes has served as Chairman of the Maryland Center for Agro-Ecology. The Center, founded in 1999, works to find common ground that unites farmers, foresters and environmentalists as they work together to build a better future for Maryland. The Center serves that goal by gathering and evaluating unbiased information based on solid science.

In the Center’s short history, it has proved itself to be not just a scientific or research organization, but a convener that provides strategic advice and critical information for discussions among policy makers, civic leaders, key stakeholders and the general public.

It is only fitting that Governor Hughes and the Maryland Center for Agro-Ecology take this step to be forever fused in the mind of those involved in environmental protection and public at large.

Please join Governor Hughes, Russ Brinsfield, Sara Taylor Rogers and a host of other Chesapeake Bay enthusiasts on Nov. 13 to celebrate Governor Hughes’ 80 birthday and to witness the naming of the Center. I know I will be there!

For information contact Sarah Taylor Rogers at 410-827-6202.