The year 2023 marked a post-covid new beginning for CBEC. With its focus on ‘hands-on, feet-wet’ educational and recreational experiences on and near the Chesapeake Bay, CBEC hosted over 30,000 visitors, including over 4,500 students, teachers, college interns, and adult learners. As one science teacher commented, “CBEC offered a perspective most students had never experienced. It’s a very special place.”
With over 500 acres of wetlands, natural shoreline, lowland forest, and meadows, CBEC has become a popular spot for area – even international – visitors to explore and engage in environmental education, hands-on restoration, and just-plain enjoying the beauty and bounty that is the Chesapeake Bay. “It’s all about connections,” commented Executive Director, Vicki Paulas. “This reflects our recent efforts to engage our visitors to develop a higher sense of the value and importance of the conservation of the Bay.”
One of the best examples of CBEC’s success in this area is the fact that over 100 volunteers contributed in excess of 10,000 volunteer hours in 2023. As Executive Director Paulas noted, “With almost 500 species of flora and fauna, including over 250 identified species of birds – making it the #1 birding location in Queen Anne’s County – CBEC’s 5 miles of hiking trails, boardwalks, and easy access to the Bay by kayak, our location has become a premier spot for visitors to come and enjoy nature.”
In conjunction with the University of Maryland, CBEC has hosted a number of undergraduate and graduate students who are studying wetland ecosystems. According to Andrew Baldwin, professor of Environmental Science & Technology at Maryland, “CBEC has played a key role in enabling my students to carry out immersive, hands-on field research exercises on the soil, vegetation, and hydrology of the tidal marshes at the Center.”
As CBEC reflects on the events of 2023, the Center remains dedicated to its mission of environmental conservation, education, and community engagement. The successes of the past year have set a solid foundation for continued growth and impact. By fostering a sense of responsibility and appreciation for the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem, CBEC is poised to play a crucial role in shaping a more sustainable and harmonious future for the region.
The Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center is a 501(C)3 non-profit organization that depends on membership, contributions, gifts, and grants to operate in a viable and sustainable manner. Donation and membership information can be found at www.bayrestoration.org