Baltimore Tree Trust crew members Tae Stewart, left, and Roy Brown plant Tilia trees along the edge of Patterson Park in Baltimore on April 21, 2022. The nonprofit put 71 trees in the park during a four-day stretc (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)

Sitting in my third-grade class and looking at the poster of the Chesapeake Bay hanging on the wall, I remember my teacher talking about the Chesapeake Bay.

I was excited to learn more about this strange blue blob with little veins reaching out in every direction. The next day, I remember sitting in the car on the way to a field trip to southern Maryland. Watching the green fields and forests pass by, while seeing birds, whose names I did not yet know, soar through the air.

When we arrived, educators brought out seine nets, water samples and all sorts of contraptions I’d never seen before. I laughed at the funny-looking waterproof overalls they wore. We looked at fish, evaluated water samples and inspected the fascinating creatures captured in the seine net. I was ecstatic to see a jellyfish! The day piqued my curiosity and set me on a path to protect the waters I played in that day. I went home knowing that somehow, I was connected to something far larger than just my neighborhood in Washington, D.C.

Every child deserves to have the opportunity to visit a healthy green space and become enamored with the natural world. Years before I went on that field trip, partners throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed came together to restore an ecosystem that was struggling. They set in motion the actions that would allow me and future generations to enjoy all that the watershed has to offer.

Talking about the future of our ecosystem with the addition of growing pressures from climate change, tends to be all doom and gloom, but the partnerships that have been built over the past 50 years are worth celebrating. The foundation for our future has already been built.

As a Chesapeake Research Consortium Environmental Management Staffer working at the Chesapeake Bay Program, I now have a front row seat to the restoration happening throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

An annual celebration

This year, the annual Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week revolves around the theme, “Restoration Brings Results.”

Each year, nine days in June are dedicated to celebrating the culture, history and natural beauty of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The Chesapeake Bay Commission championed this tradition in 2016 with designations from the State of Maryland, Commonwealth of Virginia and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week reminds us to appreciate all that the watershed has to offer.

Every year, Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week is kicked off with Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Clean the Bay Day and has historically ended with Bernie Fowler’s Patuxent River Wade-In. This year’s celebrations will also overlap with Lancaster Water Week in Pennsylvania and River Rally in Washington, D.C. Local governments can celebrate by proclaiming Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week in their jurisdiction. Community members will have the opportunity to join other educational and volunteer events throughout the week.

From Cooperstown, New York to Norfolk, Virginia, and Pendleton, West Virginia to Sussex, Delaware, each region of the watershed has its own unique qualities. For decades, each jurisdiction has acted to restore the natural beauty of this complex ecosystem. By bringing unique regional approaches to these restoration partnerships, we have started to see positive trends throughout the watershed. This year, we’re dedicating Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week to celebrate those successes.

Restoration involves each and every one of us. We can implement take simple actions at home and support our local watershed organizations. Join us from June 4 to June 12 as we celebrate the beauty and bounty of the Chesapeake Bay this June. Use this opportunity to join your local watershed organization, attend an event and follow along on social media with #BayAwarenessWeek to learn about new projects and initiatives.

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Learn more about Chesapeake Bay Awareness week:

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