Winning Efforts Around the Watershed
A number of awards were given for efforts in 2004. They include the following:
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation in January named former Virginia Gov. Gerald L. Baliles its 2004 Conservationist of the Year. Eric Fitzgerald, a Rockingham County, VA, teacher, was named the 2004 Educator of the Year. The environmental group recognized the two for their extraordinary contributions to help the Chesapeake. “These two individuals embody the leadership necessary to save the Bay,” said CBF President William Baker. “Governor Baliles is recognized for his longtime devotion to the Chesapeake Bay, and Mr. Fitzgerald for his dedication to environmental education and his work to bridge the perspectives of the farming and environmental communities.”
Conservationist of the Year
GERALD L. BALILES
A former Virginia governor, attorney general and member of the House of Delegates, Baliles has an extensive history with the Bay. As governor from 1986-90, and as a chair of the Chesapeake Executive Council, he led the development of the historic 1987 Chesapeake Bay Agreement which established the framework for the Bay restoration effort. Baliles also championed legislation that included the landmark Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act, the phosphate detergent ban and a major increase in funding for Chesapeake Bay programs.
Last year, Baliles chaired the 15-member Chesapeake Bay Watershed Blue Ribbon Finance Panel, which was created by the Executive Council to develop innovative solutions for financing the multibillion-dollar Bay restoration effort. The panel’s report, “Saving a National Treasure: Financing the Cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay,” found that restoration efforts are at risk of failure without bold, new investments and called for a six-year effort to raise $15 billion in federal and state funding. The report also called for the establishment of a Chesapeake Bay Financing Authority charged with prioritizing and distributing restoration funds.
Educator of the Year
As a longtime agriculture teacher and faculty advisor to the Future Farmers of America at Turner Ashby High School in Bridgewater, VA, Fitzgerald is a leader in agricultural and environmental education. Engaging students through hands-on field experiences and real-world problem solving, he and his students explore the connections between farming in the Shenandoah Valley and water quality in local streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.
Each year, Fitzgerald leads his students on field trips to the CBF’s Port Isobel Island, Fox Island and Smith Island education centers. Since his first trip in 1989, his students have created more than 100 fish habitat structures, carried out stream bank stabilization projects and planted nearly 14,000 trees along the North River and the South Fork of the Shenandoah River in Rockingham County.
His talent for teaching extends beyond his students in the classroom. He also trains educators working in rural and farming communities to better understand the needs and interests of agriculture students.
Chesapeake Bay Trust
The Chesapeake Bay Trust in February announced the winners and finalists of its annual Teacher of the Year awards.
The 2005 Teacher of the Year winners are Pam Sherfey, a fourth grade teacher at Linton Springs Elementary School in Carroll County, and Alan Hammond, an environmental science teacher at Allegany High School in Allegany County.
The Chesapeake Bay Trust Teacher of the Year awards celebrate the contributions that Maryland teachers make to restoring and protecting the Chesapeake Bay. The Trust presents this award to two teachers–one elementary or middle school teacher and one high school teacher–who demonstrate a genuine and sustained commitment to Bay education, field experiences, and restoration efforts, while simultaneously advancing student achievement. Five additional teachers were honored as finalists.
“It is truly remarkable to see what these teachers have accomplished for the Bay inside their classrooms, out in the field and in the community,” said Midgett S. Parker, Jr., Chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Trust Board of Trustees. “We are fortunate to have had the opportunity to provide grant funding to the schools of each of these dedicated educators to help them work with Maryland’s next generation of Bay stewards.”
Elementary Teacher of the Year
A fourth grade teacher at Linton Springs Elementary in Carroll County, Sherfey’s work extends beyond her classroom and touches the entire student body, their parents and the community. Students identify and analyze problem areas, then investigate and compare possible solutions—blending science, social studies, math and language arts throughout the process. Her schoolwide projects not only advance student learning and leadership skills, but they have also created a wetland, installed a native garden, established a rain garden and planted a meadow to provide habitat for birds and insects.
High School Teacher of the Year
Hammond teaches environmental science at Allegany High School in Allegany County. He launched the environmental education program at his school 12 years ago and has since nurtured it into one of the school’s most popular programs. He has become a leader in environmental education in western Maryland, inspiring students toward related career paths, mentoring colleagues with similar programs and garnering widespread participation in hands-on projects that benefit local waterways and, ultimately, the Chesapeake Bay.
- SANDRA GEDDES teaches fourth grade at Westbrook Elementary in Montgomery County. Through her leadership, Westbrook became the first elementary school to use the Schools in Schools program to support shad restoration in the Potomac River and was instrumental in supporting a fishway on Little Falls Dam.
- MARRY ANN PERRET teaches first grade at Davidsonville Elementary in Anne Arundel County. She has worked with students and parents to create a native plant garden through Arlington Echo’s Chesapeake Connections program and develop classroom recycling programs, and has engaged some of the school’s youngest students in watershed studies and raising terrapins for release into the wild.
- MICHAEL POWELL teaches sixth grade at Patuxent Elementary in Prince George’s County. He engages his sixth-grade students in investigations of many Bay issues, while incorporating hands-on learning experiences.
- BILLIE BRADSHAW teaches physics at Poolesville High School in Montgomery County. She fuses her passions for physics and environmental science into an education program that reaches far beyond most students’ traditional classroom experience. By emphasizing hands-on, investigative learning, she helps students develop a personal connection to the watershed and provides opportunities for them to help improve it.
- MARGARET PAUL teaches horticulture and environmental science at Towson High School in Baltimore County. Paul uses school and community landscapes to help her students discover their connection to the Chesapeake Bay watershed and understand how their actions can impact its future.
MD DNR Wildlife & Heritage Service
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources Wildlife and Heritage Service recently gave Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage its Conservationist of the Year award. The Wildlife Advisory Commission, established to advise the DNR secretary on wildlife matters, annually selects a recipient from a nominee list assembled the previous calendar year.
Conservationist of the Year
CHESAPEAKE WILDLIFE HERITAGE
Chesapeake Wildlife Heritage is a nonprofit organization that works to improve the habitat and health of the Bay through five core areas: Its Chesapeake Care Program, which builds and restores wetlands and upland buffers on previously converted farmland to filter nutrients and sediment before they reach streams and the Bay; its sustainable agriculture program, which demonstrates farming practices that are profitable and benefit wildlife; its wildlife nesting structure program, which builds and installs nesting boxes in appropriate habitats for certain bird species; its education and outreach program, which advises property owners and community groups on projects suitable for small properties; and its landowner services program, which provides consultation with landowners interested in the long-term preservation and restoration of wildlife habitat while achieving maximum financial benefits from the land. It also works to match environmentally sensitive land with buyers interested in permanently protecting it.
“Our staff and board are pleased to be recognized by the DNR for our dedication to the creation, restoration, and protection of wildlife habitat through cooperation with private and public landowners,” said Ned Gerber, director of of CWH. “Our hands-on work in the landscape gets much needed habitat on the ground.”
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