Bay Journal

Tom Horton receives ‘Admiral of the Chesapeake’ award

  • By Karl Blankenship on January 25, 2015
Tom Horton (Dave Harp)

Bay Journal columnist Tom Horton was among more than a dozen Marylanders recognized as an “Admiral of the Chesapeake” by Gov. Marin O’Malley during his final days in office.

Horton has been writing about the Bay since March 1972, spending 33 years as a reporter and columnist for the Baltimore Sun. He has also written numerous books about the Chesapeake and its occupants — both human and natural — including “Island out of Time” about Smith Island, and two editions of “Turning the Tide,” a comprehensive overview of issues facing the Bay.

The Admiral of the Chesapeake is awarded by Maryland’s governor to those who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the conservation and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay, its surrounding landscape, and the life that inhabits them.

The award recognizes the lifetime achievements of individuals, and is the highest honor the governor can bestow on a person for their environmental contributions.

It is awarded on an as-merited basis, and O’Malley recognized several individuals with the awards in a series of small meetings in his office during his final days as governor.

“My reaction was, when I looked around the room at the people getting the award — Walt Boynton, Pat Noonan, Will Baker — you’re impressed. It was quite a crowd sitting there,” said Horton, who was recognized with a handful of others on O’Malley’s last full day in office.

“That was the impressive thing — not that you get this piece of paper, but that was quite a group sitting there with the governor.”

Horton has the longest tenure of covering Chesapeake Bay issues of any reporter in the watershed. He worked at the Baltimore Sun from 1972 to 1987, largely focusing on environmental issues, then did a stint working for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation as an educator on Smith Island from 1987 through 1992. During that time he wrote “Turning the Tide,” a sweeping book covering the range of issues facing the Chesapeake. He returned to the Sun from 1993 through 2006, writing a weekly column, “On the Bay.”

He is also the author of several other books about the Bay, such as “Bay Country,” “The Great Marsh” and “Nanticoke: Portrait of a River,” and has written numerous articles for publications including National Geographic, Rolling Stone and the New York Times.

He is a contributing writer for the Bay Journal, and has written its monthly Chesapeake Born column since September 2011. Horton is Chesapeake born, having grown up in Salisbury on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where he lives today, and teaches writing and environmental topics at Salisbury University.

Others receiving the Admiral of the Chesapeake award during O’Malley’s final days in office included:

  • Will Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  • Dr. Donald Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science;
  • Dr. Walter Boynton, a professor with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental science;
  • Dr. Russell B. Brinsfield, executive director of the Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology;
  • Keith Campbell, chairman of The Campbell Foundation;
  • Olivia Campbell, O’Malley’s assistant chief of staff;
  • Kim Coble, vice president for environmental protection and restoration with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation;
  • Joseph P. Gill, former secretary of Natural Resources;
  • Richard Eberhart Hall, former Maryland secretary of planning;
  • Maggie McIntosh, Maryland state delegate;
  • Patrick Noonan, chairman emeritus of The Conservation Fund;
  • Dru Schmidt Perkins, president of 1,000 Friends of Maryland;
  • Ann Pesiri Swanson, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Commission;
  • Robert M. Summers, Ph.D., former secretary of the environment; and
  • Ashley Valis, executive director, community initiatives and engagement, at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

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About Karl Blankenship

Karl Blankenship is editor of the Bay Journal and Executive Director of Chesapeake Media Service. He has served as editor of the Bay Journal since its inception in 1991. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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