Celebrate the Unsung Heroes of the Watershed During Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week

The annual event takes place from June 1-9, 2024 Download
Chesapeake Bay Watershed ()
Wetlands line the shoreline near Winter Harbor Haven, Va., on June 15, 2023. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program with aerial support by Southwings)

The ninth annual Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week will take place from June 1-9, 2024. The Chesapeake Bay Commission first championed the idea of a weeklong celebration of the nation’s largest estuary in 2016. While the week is officially designated in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, events recognizing this critical economic and environmental resource will take place throughout the watershed.

This year’s theme is “Unsung Heroes of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.” This vast 64,000-square-mile watershed is home to more than 3,600 species of plants and animals, almost 19 million people and over 87,000 farms, with close to 900 non-profit organizations, government agencies, and colleges and universities involved in its restoration effort. With all that complexity, this week will take the time to honor unsung heroes across the watershed—from critters to Bay advocates to local rivers and parks that don’t get the attention they deserve.

Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week begins with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s annual Clean the Bay Day on June 1, and ends with the Patuxent River Wade-In on June 9. During each of these nine days, participating organizations across the watershed are encouraged to join in promoting their own “Unsung Heroes of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.”

Any organization or individual is welcome to join in celebrating Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week! Chesapeake Bay Program partners, including the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Chesapeake Conservancy, Chesapeake Research Consortium, Maryland Sea Grant and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, developed a social media toolkit including sample posts, photos and articles that can be used for extra inspiration.

Some of the events happening this week include:

Check out our calendar to find an event happening near you! And to stay up to date with all the ways to get involved during the week, visit the Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week website and connect with us on social media using the hashtags #UnsungHeroes and #BayAwarenessWeek.


"Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week is the time of year to recognize and celebrate everything that the Chesapeake Bay watershed has to offer—particularly those unsung people, places and critters that don’t always get the credit they deserve. For me, these may be the farmers working to steward their lands, local governments mitigating stormwater runoff in their communities, scientists studying ways to make our restoration practices more effective and individuals who take actions every day to protect the lands and waters of the Bay region.”

  • Martha Shimkin, Director, Chesapeake Bay Program Office, Environmental Protection Agency

“Local governments across the metropolitan Washington region enjoy working together to uplift our local actions towards a clean and healthy Chesapeake Bay. We take this time to celebrate our local heroes and challenge each of our residents to learn something new about the Bay and/or participate in any of the many local Bay watershed events. Join us!”

  • Natali Fani-González, Chair, Chesapeake Bay and Water Resources Policy Committee, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and Councilmember, Montgomery County, Maryland

“The Chesapeake Bay watershed is more than just iconic blue crabs, boating and vast open water; it’s home to more than 3,600 species of plants and animals, diverse landscapes and over 18 million people. This year’s theme of “Unsung Heroes” helps to shine a spotlight on upstream habitats and the incredible advocates who work to protect them. At the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, we hope you celebrate Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week by exploring your local forest or park, river or stream, and learn more about all the ways our watershed provides us so much. You too can be a local hero, starting in your own community!

  • Kate Fritz, Chief Executive Officer, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay

“From community leaders like Vincent Leggett with Blacks of the Chesapeake Foundation, who helped save Elktonia-Carr’s Beach in Annapolis, and Nethra Purushothaman and her fellow Girl Scouts who helped conserve a 550-acre forest in Prince George’s County, Maryland, heroes can be found throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Chesapeake Conservancy joins the conservation community in celebrating the change-makers and nature-lovers who make a difference every day in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.”

  • Joel Dunn, President and CEO, Chesapeake Conservancy

“We are currently amid a unique opportunity to collectively imagine what a vital Chesapeake Bay looks like. During this Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week, we should take every effort to celebrate those who are not often recognized for the role they play in the restoration effort and helping to envision the Bay of the future. James Michener described such a moment when he wrote, “A ship, like a human being, moves best when it is slightly athwart the wind, when it has to keep its sails tight and attend its course… What is needed is a wind slightly opposed to the ship, for then tension can be maintained, and juices can flow, and ideas can germinate, for ships, like men (inclusive of all), respond to challenge.” May we take time this Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week to reflect on how we can be inspired by challenging winds.”

  • Denice Wardrop, Executive Director, Chesapeake Research Consortium

"It's only through collaboration that we can make progress on major issues for the health of the Chesapeake Bay and the many communities that depend on it. The researchers, extension specialists, educators, community leaders and others that Maryland Sea Grant works with on coastal issues are certainly among the Bay's unsung heroes."

  • Fredika Moser, Director, Maryland Sea Grant