This month, the Coalition welcomed new member The Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center (CBEC), a Maryland-based organization that promotes restoration, education, conservation, and overall stewardship of the Chesapeake Bay Region. With tons of activities for the public, they hope to connect with you. We spoke to Courtney Leigh, director of communications and strategic initiatives, to learn more about the programs and mission of CBEC.
Tell us a little about your organization and mission.
The Wildfowl Trust of North America Inc. was founded in 1979, with the intent to protect wetlands for waterfowl while maintaining captive waterfowl collections for educational purposes. In 1981, the Trust purchased a 315-acre farm tract in Grasonville, Maryland on which it initially established Horsehead Wetlands Center and opened to the public in 1985. In 1998, the Trust purchased an additional 195 acres and placed the now 510-acre preserve under conservation easement.
In 2002, the Trust revamped its mission to address the issues of declining water quality, urban sprawl and habitat loss and set a goal to be recognized as a leader in environmental education and bay restoration. The site was renamed the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center to reflect the new focus of the mission.
The mission of the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center is to promote stewardship and sustainability through environmental education and habitat restoration.
What is one of your current projects you are the most excited about?
I am thrilled that CBEC is expanding our Kayak Programs. CBEC believes that accessibility to the waters of the Bay will increase appreciation, knowledge, and stewardship of the Chesapeake Bay Ecosystem. For this reason, CBEC is hosting six ACA Instruction Programs for Kayak Paddling Skills and Assessments in the spring and summer to ensure paddlers have the opportunity to hone paddling technique and learn safety and rescue strategies. I love facilitating this program by developing the instruction courses, promoting the courses, and teaching the instruction courses.
What issue area do you hope to focus on more of in the future?
In my new role at CBEC as Director of Communications and Strategic Initiatives, I hope to focus on engaging more donors to our contribution base that will allow CBEC to effectively serve as the premier environmental education organization in the Bay watershed and maintain our property as crucial habitat for the wildlife of the watershed, while also offering visitors a chance to eco-recreate!
What do you hope to gain from being a member of the Coalition?
By being a member of the Coalition, I hope to be able to connect with other organizations to find symbiotic partnerships. I also hope to be able to contribute to initiatives on topics of equity and communications.
Mary Katherine Sullivan is an intern with Choose Clean Water