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Environment & Society

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    During Assistant Professor Robin Van Meter’s on-the-water Introduction to Environmental Studies class, students aboard the College’s research vessel Callinectes used a variety of instruments to measure water quality and weather conditions, and to net, identify, measure, weigh, and record a variety of fish.
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    After Dr. Marcus Eriksen of the 5 Gyres Institute and students trawled in the Chester River for plastic trash, Kathy Thornton ’13 examined some finds under a microscope. Microscopic plastic pollutes oceans and waterways worldwide.
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    Carl Hershner, Director of the Center for Coastal Resources Management and Associate Professor of Marine Science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, was recently featured in the Bay Journal discussing adaptive best management practices for the Chesapeake Bay.
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    On October 24, 2013, Washington College took part in it’s first Food Day! Food Day is a nationwide celebration of local and sustainable food, with a mission to get more healthy food in schools and on campuses across the country.
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    As an installment in the Center for Environment and Society’s “What Can I Do With My Environmental Studies Degree,” WC alumna Jenn Vervier ’90 gave a lecture on sustainability and her position as Director of Strategic Development and Sustainability with New Belgium Brewing Company.

    Sponsors included the Business Management Department and the J.C. Jones Program in American Business Leadership.
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    The Center for Environment & Society organized a trip for the Student Environmental Alliance to support a day of service at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.
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    The SANDBOX program launches its first exhibition featuring famed sculptor, John Ruppert.  Faculty, students and community members alike flocked to Kohl Gallery to see the works and get to know a little bit more about the program.
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    Pictures from the many events that were “Earth Week 2013” at Washington College!
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    This year’s Locavore Lit Fest kicked off at Evergrain bakery with a cheese making demonstration as well as a talk by Jim Weaver, author of Locavore Adventures. There was also a selection of wines and cheeses produced and provided by local farms such as Crow Farm and Cassinelli Winery.
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    Images from the 2013 Burger Night at Unity Nursery. Proceeds from this event go to fund the annual Locavore Lit Fest, which is coming up in March! 
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    To kick off Earth Week, Dining Services hosted a cooking competition in which three dishes are prepared without meat or gluten.
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    Dr. Hazel Barton, world-renowned cave microbiologist, spoke about the epidemic of white nose syndrome in bat populations in the eastern United States. The talk was streamed live (http://new.livestream.com/washcoll/bats) and sponsored by the Center for Environment and Society and the National Speleological Society.
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    Select photos from the Chesapeake Semester 2012!
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    Volunteers and visitors show off Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge. 
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    Northern Saw-whet owl banding at Foreman’s Branch Bird Observatory has been extremely successful this fall, with more than 250 birds banded to date. On November 15, several owls were examined and documented.
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    The annual Locavore Lit Fest returned to Chestertown March 27-30 with talks by nationally known writers and regional experts, this year with a focus on youth, nutrition and agriculture. Topics will include “Farm to School” programs and teaching children how to garden.
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    As part of the Recipes for Change series, author of Kitchen Literacy Ann Vileisis spoke about how we lost our way on the road from farm to table, and chart a return to “a purposeful palate.”
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    Human origins research scientist Briana Pobiner opened the Recipes for Change series. She spoke about what our ancestors ate and how we know.
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    Why not round out Food Day—a celebration of eating local—with a movie and milkshake? Students were treated to milkshakes made with local Kilby Cream ice cream during a screening of In Organic We Trust in the Goose Nest.
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    Interns from the Chester River Field Research Station over the years.
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    Images from the Waterfront Festival and Cardboard Boat Regatta. 
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    At the dedication of the campus garden, George’s Grove, the Student Environmental Alliance expressed a vision to expand the garden’s food production to build community and demonstrate low-impact sustainable living. Dr. Bill Schindler suggested a joint venture between SEA, the Anthropology Club, the Anthropology Department, and the Center for Environment & Society to establish an earth oven for baking traditional sourdough bread.

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    Students in Dr. Bill Schindler’s “Food, People, & The Planet” class learned how to prepare grav lox, gelatin, ground corn, tomato sauce, cassoulet, and kombucha as part of a multi-course meal.
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    The Callinectes, Washington College’s most recently acquired research vessel, offered short tours of the Chester River. Some folks opted for a longer tour aboard the Schooner Sultana.








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    The Student Environmental Alliance spent a weekend in the woods volunteering at Camp Tockwogh, a nonprofit summer program geared to help children understand their ecological relationship with the world.
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    Dr. John Seidel took students from his Marine Archaeology course to visit the USS Constellationin the Inner Harbor of Baltimore. Students were able to walk through the ship from the hull to the deck analyzing the different components and the structure of the boat and visualizing which parts might be preserved and found if underwater.
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    The Chesapeake Semester team was fortunate to visit Machu Picchu on the 100th anniversary of the re-discovery of this sacred Incan city.
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    Traversing Peru from West to East: The Chesapeake Semester team left Lima’s arid coastal desert and the ribbon of marine abundance of seals, sea lions and guano birds along its shores for the Amazonian interior. Traveling by plane, bus and boat students would explore the interior jungle of the Tombopata National Reserve for three days and three nights.
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    On their second day in Peru, students enrolled in the Chesapeake Semester boarded a bus and headed south along the coast to Paracas and the Marine-protected Ballestas Islands. They saw the abundance of Peru’s guano birds for the first time. The concentration of guano spurred the Peruvian economic engine of guano (fertilizer) export to First World countries up until the turn of the 20th century. Today the guano harvest has dramatically decreased and is heavily regulated by the Peruvian government. Despite the decades that have elapsed since the guano glut, the method of harvest has made little advancement. Labor is still supplied from the same two remote Andean villages that have supplied labor for generations. Under the government’s supervision and scientific management these workers migrate seasonally up and down the coast selecting harvests sites based upon guano volume, bird migration, and nesting habits for less impactful mining.
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    The Chesapeake Semester returns to Peru for a two week comparative study of the country’s ecosystems and cultures.
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    C.V Starr Center staffers, along with affiliated students, fellows, and friends, boarded the Pride of Baltimore II, a reproduction 1812 top-sail schooner, to celebrate the kickoff of Downrigging Weekend and the history of the Chesapeake. The Presidential Fellows joined the Chester River waters on the Kalmar Nyckel and the Center for Environment & Society on the Lady Maryland. The night ended with spectacular fireworks over the illuminated tall ships.
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    As part of the third journey, which concentrates on policy that effects the bay, Chesapeake Semester students visited a variety of farms, including grain farms, a poultry operation, two dairies, and leaders.
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    With the requisite lectures in the natural sciences under their belt, Chesapeake Semester students started off on their second Journey that would last 10 days and take them from the remote and peaceful forests of Shenandoah National Park to the crowded boardwalk of Ocean City with stops at the marsh swamps of Black Water National Wildlife Refuge and the coastal bays of Chincoteague and Assateague Island National Wildlife Refuge.
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    With the requisite lectures in the natural sciences under their belt, Chesapeake Semester students started off on their second Journey that would last 10 days and take them from the remote and peaceful forests of Shenandoah National Park to the crowded boardwalk of Ocean City with stops at the marsh swamps of Black Water National Wildlife Refuge and the coastal bays of Chincoteague and Assateague Island National Wildlife Refuge.
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    The Center for Environment & Society teamed up with campus and community groups for the annual Waterfront Festival as part of Fall Family Weekend.
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    Sailing aboard the 18th-century schooner Sultana, a group of first-year students explored the rich history of the Chesapeake Bay. Organized by Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, this pre-orientation trip offered students an opportunity to live aboard an 18th-century vessel, meet a buccaneer from the Golden Age of Piracy, play 18th-century baseball, and explore the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. Divided up into two teams, the Royal Navy and the Buccaneers, the participants faced off in a series of challenges, culminating in an epic naval battle on Langford Creek.
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    The close-knit community of Washington College is woven into the fabric of the region, bringing together many area alumni and faculty for events like Andy’s Burger Night, a local foods celebration coordinated by Andy Goddard ’73 and Tara Holste ’07.
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    The Chesapeake Semester spent a second day in the Tambopata National Reserve.
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    Chesapeake Semester continues its journey through the Tambopata National Reserve.
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    Traversing Peru from West to East: The Chesapeake Semester team has gone from the desert coast at Punta San Juan by bus to the Upper Andes in Cusco by plane, to the Cloud Forests of Machu Picchu by train and foot. Now they arrive by plane and boat to the Amazonian jungles of Tambopata National Reserve for a three night stay.
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    Chesapeake Semester students armed with water bottles and headlamps woke up at 3:30 a.m. to hike up to Machu Picchu to get the limited access passes to Wanya Picchu, the sacred peak above Machu Picchu.
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    Chesapeake Semester continues their Peruvian adventures by hiking on the Incan Trail.
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    Students explore the wildlife, culture, and cuisine of The Potato Park.
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    Students explore the city of Cusco, Peru.
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    Students spent a second day in the area studying bird behavior.
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    The Chesapeake Semester travelledd through Punta San Juan, a protected area in southern Peru that is a sanctuary for Humboldt penguins and other wildlife. There, students helped at a biological research station studying birds and mammals and learned about currents, fisheries and ecosystems.
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    The Chesapeake Semester team didn’t stay in Lima long. The team was up before day-break and on the road heading south to UPHC-CSA’s biological research station at the Guano Reserve in Punta San Juan. Before arriving they would stop in the town of Paracas to visit the Ballestas islands—one of the many guano islands that dot Peru’s coast—as well as an anchoveta reduction factory to learn more about the commercial harvest and processing of the 4 inch fish.
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    Chesapeake Semester flew into the Peruvian capital and explored the city.
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    Sponsored by the Center for Environment and Society, the Office of the Dean, and Massoni Art of Chestertown, Washington College hosted the opening of ‘The Art of the Waterman—The Simison Collection” in conjunction with the Washington College’s premier program, the Chesapeake Semester. Created by the late Dr. Diane Simison as an educational exhibit that would inform its viewers of the culture and life of the Chesapeake Bay Waterman, Washington College’s Kohl Gallery was honored to be the first host of such a wonderful collection. Using the deep and rich oral history that the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum has collected over the years, curator Pete Lesher opened the evening with compelling stories of the challenges and issues surrounding the working watermen of the Chesapeake, their livelihoods, and their culture throughout history and today. Invited guests were then asked to join the students of the Chesapeake Semester as they shared insights into the artist’s inspiration and the collector’s intent, with additional elements of their own personal experience over the Semester meeting with waterman, farmers, and policy makers.

    The next day, Chesapeake Semester students would visit with Eliza Smith Steinmeier, the Baltimore Harbor Keeper in her northern Baltimore City office to contrast the issues that she faces in a hyper-urban watershed to the issues that River Keepers of the rural Eastern Shore face. In the afternoon they would travel to Steinweg Port Facility to learn more about Baltimore’s port as an economic engine for the State. The students would finish the day at Baltimore’s National Aquarium
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    As part of the third journey, which concentrates on policy that affects the bay, Chesapeake Semester students traveled to Cambridge, MD to visit Horn Point Lab and the Oyster Recovery Partnership to see how oysters are grown in captivity to be released into the bay, in hopes that they will one day repopulate the bay’s endangered oyster population. In the afternoon, the group visited Marinetics, a private aquaculture operation that produces oysters for sale to restaurants and distributors.
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    As part of the third journey, which concentrates on policy that affects the bay, Chesapeake Semester students visited a variety of farms, including grain farms, a poultry operation, two dairies, and a diversified operation that capitalizes on recent interest in local foods.

    The final day of the week students would meet with experts in the field of land conservation and community planning. They met with Rob Etgen of the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC), Jay Falstad, Director of Communications at Queen Anne’s County Conservation Association, and Jenn Hicks, community planner and group facilitator for Sustainable Delmarva, a local organization with a regional vision.
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    The Poultry industry drives the economy of the Delmarva. It is the predominant source of agriculture and the primary reason that the relatively small family farms of the Eastern Shore can continue to grow grain crops competitively. But poultry— and more specifically poultry litter- has also been identified as a major source of nutrient pollution for the Chesapeake. Chesapeake Semester students would meet with Jim Perdue in his Seaford based Agri-Recycle Plant, followed by a farm tour of a poultry operation in northern Kent County.
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    The Delmarva Peninsula is well known for its beautiful rural working landscapes. Over the course of the next week students would spend time with farmers, academics, environmental watchdogs, lawyers and businessmen learning about how preserving the health of the land and the profitability of the farm are essential to a strong and thriving Chesapeake.

    On October 19, students met with local riverkeepers and farmers to see their work first hand.
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    Drew Frank ‘03 and Teris Pantazes ‘03 of Seven Seas Energy teamed up with Climate Action Coordinator Briggs Cunningham to install an anemometer atop Roy Kirby, Jr. Stadium. The device will measure and record wind speed to determine whether wind turbines are economically viable for Washington College and the surrounding community.

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    Students spent a full day at the Chincoteague Island National Wildlife Refuge birding and kayaking through the marshes.
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    The Chesapeake Semester boarded the Captain Jason in Crisfield, MD for a 40 minute boat ride to the small community of Smith Island to discover Chesapeake culture.

    The next day, they headed down to Chincoteague Island, Virginia, for the annual Oyster Festival.
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    Hardened from the cool weather of Shenandoah Valley National Park, the Chesapeake Semester team made their way back eastward across the watershed. They would make many stops along the way, including Great Falls, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, and J.M. Clayton Co., exploring the changing ecology, habitat, and land-use of the Chesapeake.
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    After spending the night in the forest, Chesapeake Semester set off through the forest once again. They learned about the Shenandoah River and picked up tips for foraging for naturally-growing food in the region.
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    With the requisite lectures in the natural sciences under their belt, Chesapeake Semester students started off on their second Journey that would last 10 days and take them from the remote and peaceful forests of Shenandoah National Park to the crowded boardwalk of Ocean City with stops at the marsh swamps of Black Water National Wildlife Refuge and the coastal bays of Chincoteague and Assateague Island National Wildlife Refuge.
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    The final day of Journey 1 would be spent at Conowingo Dam, the Susquehanna State Park and the C&D canal. Built in 1925, the Conowingo Dam is a major milestone in the development of the Bay’s watershed with a contribution of roughly 1.6 billion kilowatt hours to the Atlantic grid. However, there are major consequences to its installation that students would explore as they geared up for the next set of lectures and Journeys focused on the ecology and environment of the Chesapeake.
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    Continuing their Journey northward, C.S. students arrive in the historic port town of the Upper Bay, Havre de Grace. Known around the country for the productive Susquehanna Flats and the abundant waterfowl that would feed on the once thriving underwater meadows of sub aquatic vegetation, Havre de Grace was also historically known for its role in transporting timber down from Pennsylvania and textiles from the South. C.S.’s first stop would be the Lock Museum followed by the Decoy Museum and finally a sunset sail on the Skipjack Martha Lewis.
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    Students in the Chesapeake Semester took a sunset cruise on the Skipjack Martha Lewis with special guest Michael Helfrich, the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, who discussed challenges facing the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
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    Continuing their tour of the Chesapeake, students enjoyed a rich morning in Historic St. Mary’s City. They explored archaeological sites with Dr. John and Liz Seidel, the re-created town of Maryland’s first capital and its historical buildings, a tour aboard The Dove, a glance into colonial plantation life at the Godiah Spray House and finally a walk through the city.
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    Wrapping up an informative few days at Colonial Williamsburg, Chesapeake Semester students progress onward up the James River to one of the few remaining historical plantations that line its shores. They arrive at the Shirley Plantation to contrast the town life of Williamsburg with the rural life of the country side.

    In the afternoon they would proceed to Historic St. Mary’s City to arrive in time for their Native American Day.
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    Students spent the first half of the day exploring the many museums, taverns, and interactive exhibits of Colonial Williamsburg.

    In the afternoon the next day they met on the green of the Governors’ Mansion with Dr. Seidel to report out on their experiential assignments. Students were asked to use the information available at Colonial Williamsburg—reenactors, museums, interactive exhibits—to explore themes that varied from weather patterns and foodways to slavery and politics.
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    Chesapeake Semester students hit the road for Journey 1, “Discovering a Sense of Place,” which included a ten-day 842 mile trip circumnavigating the Bay. Students departed from Chestertown and traveled down the Delmarva and up the Western Shore of Maryland stopping at historic landmarks like Jamestowne, Colonial Williamsburg, Shirley Plantation, Historic St. Mary’s City, our state capital Annapolis, Havre de Grace, and Port Deposit. Nearing the end of the journey Chesapeake Semester students, Washington College faculty and SEA members enjoyed a sunset sail on the skipjack Martha Lewis out on the Susquehanna Flats.

    First stop: Jamestowne and the James Fort.
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    After an amazing canoe paddle from Rolph’s Wharf to Quaker Neck, the students met with Captain Andrew McCown on the skipjack Elsworth for dinner and stories to be told while anchored in the channel. They would sleep well that night on deck. The following day would require an early morning rise to go crabbing on the Mr. Louis, a rendezvous with Captain Dickie Manning Jr. and his son at their pound net just south of the Corsica, and a stroll along the shore examining the intertidal zone’s diverse wildlife.
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    Put in: Rolph’s Warf
    Bring: Bathing suits, sun screen, fishing gear, lunch
    Mission: Answer the question: “Can the middle Chester possibly be as fun, rich, and unique as the Upper Chester!?”
    Itinerary: Paddle, fish, explore, swim, eat. Meet with Captain Andy on the Skipjack Elsworth for a sleepover on the water.
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    After our orientation to the Chesapeake Semester at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, a skipjack sail and 4 bushel of crabs, students visited Echo Hill Outdoor school for some trust and team building exercises.

    Later, it was time for some music:
    “I wanna sail the Chester River,
    Lay back in the noon day sun.
    With my feet in the water and a national boh,
    Lordy, that’s what I call fun…”
    Chesapeake Scenes: “Chester River Song”

    This, year students would get a personal glimpse of their own Chester River, starting from its head waters above Millington and going down towards its mouth, south of the Corsica. They learned of its history, its ecology, and the environmental issues that are predominant in the watershed.

    The first leg of the trip was led by canoe guide, local historian, arrow-head collector extraordinaire, and Sultana Projects Inc.’s V.P. ,Chris Cerino, who took the group from Millington to Crumpton. The group was joined by: Professor of English and Humanities Co-chair for the Chesapeake Semester, Sean Meehan, and the Director of the Public Archaeology Lab at the Center for Environment and Society, Liz Seidel.
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    It’s Fall and the Chesapeake Semester’s back at it! This year’s Orientation week took us to the campus of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, MD where students received behind the scenes tours with Education Program consultant Robert Forloney, museum curator, Pete Lesher, and a special exhibit tour with Chesapeake Bay photographer David Harp. Students also enjoyed a skipjack sail with Captain Wade Murphy and trot lining with Captain Russell Dize and Captain Lawrence Taylor, before coming back up to Kent County for team building activities and a two and half day float down the Chester River.
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    After a well-rested night back on campus, Chesapeake Semester students headed to Havre de Grace at the north of the Bay for their final day of Voyage 1. They explored the Susquehanna flats and lighthouses on the Skipjack Martha Lewis, a sister Skipjack to Rosie Parks and the Lady Katy which were both seen at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum during orientation. After lunch on the water, students came back to shore for a guided tour of the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum.
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    After a long day exploring Calvert Marine Museum and the Maryland Archeology Conservation Lab, Chesapeake Semester students push forward northward to Historic London Town of Anne Arundel County, located on the South River, to capture a glimpse of Maryland’s colonial trade routes. After a lunch on the river, students proceeded to the state capital where they toured the historic area with gentleman J. Marcos Salaverria M’09.
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    As the Chesapeake Semester students made their way north through Calvert County along the Western Shore they took the opportunity to explore the Calvert Marine Museum with exhibits capturing the natural and cultural history of Maryland. After ending the morning with lunch under the Drum Point Lighthouse, students proceeded to the Maryland Archaeology Conservation Lab in Patterson Park for a tour of the grounds that featured ongoing archaeology. Students finished the day with a tour of the facility with discussions on the preservation of artifacts from around the world.
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    From Richmond, VA, Chesapeake Semester students entered back into the great state of Maryland via 301 North to arrive in Lexington Park. The following days exploration took them to Historic St. Mary’s City where they were able to visit the reconstructed past of Maryland’s first capital including the St John’s Site Museum. They finished up with a quick glance out over the Bay at Point Look Out of Scotland, MD.
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    With the Williamsburg tour wrapped up, students boarded the Chesapeake Semester vans and headed toward Virginia’s capitol, Richmond, before crossing back over into Maryland. In Richmond, students had the opportunity to explore the Civil War era at the Museum of the Confederacy.
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    On their third day in Williamsburg, Chesapeake Semester students were given assignments to explore. What messages about history are portrayed here? How did the life of the free and the enslaved affect each other? In what ways did the foodways of the colonial culture reflect the environment in which they live?To address these questions and others, students visited the Great Hopes Plantation, a recreated 18th-century Virginia farm and strolled down Duke of Gloucester St., striking up conversations with reenactors to inform them of the past.
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    Chesapeake Semester students spent their first day in Williamsburg gaining a perspective on the colonial history of the nation’s first Capitol. After exploring the streets before lunch, they visit Williamsburg’s Archeology Lab, developing critical insight into the 70% of archeology beyond the excavation process. The day was capped off with a dinner at Shield’s Tavern and a stroll through town.
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    Historic Jamestowne is America’s birthplace and an essential stop as Chesapeake Semester students explore the nation’s history and widen their breadth of a sense of place.

    On their first day, the students observed the groundbreaking archeological work occurring at James Fort by Jamestown ReDiscovery. During a behind-the scenes tour with senior archeologist Dan Schimdt, students witnessed real-time archeology as a multitude of artifacts were discovered before their eyes.
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    Continuing their journey southwest, students in the Chesapeake Semester left the Eastern Shore of Virginia and crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel to arrive at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) in Gloucester Point on the north side of the York River. Exploring the aquarium, students met with faculty to discuss environmental degradation through pollution, sea level rise, and compromised wetland habitats. A visit to the Mariners’ Museum afterwards included a guided tour of the Chesapeake Bay Exhibit. The day concluded in Williamsburg in preparation for the following three days delving into Historical Colonial America.
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    September 13-14, 2009: The Chesapeake Semester has begun its maiden voyage. Moving in a clockwise direction around the Bay, students have started exploring the Chesapeake Bay watershed, analyzing landscapes, waterscapes, local history, and unique ecosystems as they begin to develop a sense of place. For the first leg of the journey, the group overnighted in Cape Charles to rise early following day to explore the geomorphology of nearby Mockhorn Island, one of the oldest Atlantic coastal islands, with archaeologist Darrin Lowery.
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    The first week of the Chesapeake Semester included local and regional orientation activities at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, water tours with the Chester and Sassafras River Associations, and team building at Echo Hill Outdoor School.
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    The inaugural class of the Chesapeake Semester met as a group for the first time for a kickoff dinner by the Chester River.
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    Students in the first-year seminar “Writing On Water” took a sunset cruise on the Elsworth, an historic 40-foot skipjack belonging to the Echo Hill Outdoor School. Captain Andy McCown ‘77, Associate Director of EHOS, entertained students with stories, poems, and readings from The Lord’s Oysters, a memoir by another WC alumnus, Gilbert Byron.
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    Composting is an essential part of Washington College’s culture of sustainability. Learn more about the process involved in each stage outlined below.
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