There is a great deal of emphasis placed on government’s ability and responsibility to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. While it is appropriate and important to expect federal and state agencies to lead the effort, the Chesapeake Bay and the entire 64,000-square-mile watershed will never be restored without the work of the region’s residents.
A staggering 17 million people live here. That many people can surely have a tremendous impact if they choose to get actively involved in the clean-up. One of the best ways for people to help is to volunteer for a local watershed group. We have a list of more than 600 organizations, so there are certainly plenty of options and opportunities to help.
We at the Chesapeake Bay Program are interested in the rate of volunteerism in the watershed. So we launched the inaugural Chesapeake Volunteer Count. Watershed groups have been asked to tell us how many volunteers they had in 2008 and how that number compared to 2007. Using this data, we will gain some understanding of what percentage of residents volunteered and if the rate is increasing, decreasing or staying the same. This information will be reported in the annual Health and Restoration Assessment.
The plan is to hold the Chesapeake Volunteer Count every January. Hopefully more groups will provide their data each year and we will get an increasingly accurate and comprehensive look at volunteering. This annual count can also be used to call more attention to the need for volunteers for environmental projects. Government can solve many problems and provide valuable resources, but it’s ultimately the contributions of everyday people that truly bring about the greatest change.
If you are with a watershed group and would like to participate in the Chesapeake Volunteer Count, please fill out our form on Survey Monkey.