Chesapeake Bay Forum Adventures, 2019

Grace: On November 16, 2019, members of ALLARM traveled to attend the Chesapeake Bay Forum in West Virginia. The Chesapeake Bay Forum is an annually-held event to bring together organizations working to restore the Chesapeake Bay watershed. This year’s theme, “Better Together: Diverse and Innovative Collaborations for the Chesapeake Watershed”, created the space for organizations to share their experiences with collaborative work in restoring the Bay.

Throughout the day, we were able to attend different sessions presented by groups about their work in restoration. This was my first time attending the Chesapeake Bay Forum, and it was a great day!

Olivia: This was also my first time attending the Chesapeake Bay Forum! I was excited to get to visit West Virginia for the first time and to meet people with similar interests to my own. The National Conservation Training Center had beautiful grounds, which I got to experience on my early morning bird walk session, and really nice educational buildings. It was such a large, diverse campus I often wondered if I was at a camping lodge, college or museum (as there were many educational displays scattered around the buildings that discussed the history of conservation).

Grace: I was able to attend four different sessions and feel like I was able to take something different from each one – it was a really interesting way to learn about how different organizations work together to help restore the Bay through awareness and action.

Angelo: It was my honor to attend the Chesapeake Bay Forum for the second time. From the four sessions that I attended, the session that stood out for me was the young professionals networking session where I got to meet a lot of young professionals that are in the Environmental field. Another highlight was attending the Chesapeake Monitoring Cooperative’s session about assessing the health of Chesapeake Bay’s Watershed incorporating other factors such as income of the people per watershed and demographics throughout the watershed.

Olivia: I did four very different sessions throughout the day. My first one was a bird walk to took us around the Training Center grounds and even down to the Potomac River. We got to see a variety of birds from a tiny robin to a soaring turkey vulture to colorful wood ducks to a majestic blue heron flying over the Potomac. I enjoyed getting to start my morning with a quiet, observant walk through nature and learned a lot of new information about bird watching and identification.

My afternoon sessions were also quite educational. My favorite session of the afternoon was titled “Music and Stewardship”. The description said that we would learn how music could be used to teach people about the environment and would be slightly interactive. It was very interactive and a great time as we got to sing along with Jeff Holland, a Riverkeeper for the West and Rhode Rivers with Arundel Rivers Federation, who writes music to inspire audiences to become better stewards of the Bay’s waterways. This produced a fun collective feeling as we all sang along to catchy but poignant lyrics. We also wrote our own version of “This Land is Your Land” by Woodie Guthrie but instead about the Chesapeake Bay, entitled “This Bay is Your Bay” where we evoked images and interactions we had with the Bay. This session taught me how music can be used to break down barriers when talking to people about the environment who may have varying opinions on the subject.

ALLARM Watershed Coordinators and full-time staff reconvening to enjoy a meal around a table at the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Forum, 2019.

Angelo: Throughout the day, I met people from different watershed associations and environmental organizations. Overall, it was an amazing experience and nice weather for this year’s Chesapeake Bay Forum.

Grace: I appreciated the opportunity to hear about how different organizations are doing their part to help the Chesapeake Bay and can’t wait for the chance to go next year.

Olivia: This was a long but rewarding day of learning and fun. I cannot wait to attend next year’s forum!