The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is dependent on its volunteers to keep many of its programs alive and running. At the Oyster Restoration Center in Shady Side, MD, we are especially indebted, as much of what we do would be nearly impossible without the help of our volunteers. Whether they have given us their time for years or a matter of weeks, each and every one is an integral part of what makes the work we do possible. Many come from different backgrounds of discipline and are experts in varying fields, and each provides their own invaluable knowledge to the oyster restoration program. We would like to introduce a few of our many wonderful volunteers:
Kevin Green is a long-time volunteer and the steward of Duvall Creek oyster reef. He sits on the board of the South River Federation and works for the Smithsonian.
Steve Guass has been volunteering since the beginning of the Oyster Restoration Program. He is ORC's IT guy and is an invaluable volunteer. He believes oysters are important because they are part of the ecosystem of the bay. He says "they could be, and should be, a major component of the Bay, but without a lot of work they won't be. But there are encouraging signs. People are a lot more environmentally aware than when I started."�
Stew Harris started the oyster restoration program in Shady Side. He liked the area so much he decided to raise his family there, and now helps moniter the tanks on the weekends and holidays. Stew is a Senior Associate in the Water Resources and Environment Practice at a consulting firm.
John Hoffman is in his second season of volunteering after starting out as an oyster gardening volunteer. Recently retired, John now has more time to give helping out at ORC.
Lloyd Lewis has been volunteering at ORC for seven years and comes from a background in oceanography. He loves driving the boat and operating the crane and is well-known for his booming voice and his passion for birds.
John McGrath (picture not available) is a recent addition to the volunteering group at ORC, starting at the beginning of summer 2012. He is a retired pharmacist, and has been a huge help as our larvae transport, ferrying the oyster larvae from Horn Point to ORC.
Jim Ridgell has been volunteering for over three years and has a background in electrical engineering. Jim is an avid fisher and hunter and always has great stories to tell.
Nikki Smith is another new volunteer to ORC. Originally from Jamaica, Nikki is joining us between her son beginning day care and getting her Ph.D. in Criminology. She believes oysters are important because they clean their water source and act as a filter.
Ron Tate is a long-time volunteer. He has a background in computer programming and electrical engineering, and it is said that "if Ron can't fix it, no one can"�. Ron believes oysters are important because "they're great coalescers; they collect the dirt and poop it to the bottom"�.
Will Weeks began volunteering at ORC in the summer of 2012. After deciding to change his career path, Will took some time off and decided one day to volunteer at CBF. He's been here ever since. Will is currently working to become a firefighter.
The drive and passion of our volunteers is inspiring. If you would like to join the ranks of our great volunteers, there are mulitple opportunities for you to get involved. Whether it's through oyster gardening or Save Our Shell at home or coming to the Oyster Restoration Center to shell shake or build reef balls, your help can always be used. We are incredibly grateful to our volunteers for giving up their time for the sake of the Bay. The oysters, and all of us at CBF, thank you for it.
(Photos courtesy of CBF oyster staff)