Kristin Buter Bourgeois

What was your position when you worked with us at Phillips Wharf? 
Chesapeake Conservation Corps Stipend Volunteer
What are you doing now? Please be specific, we want to brag about what you are up to these days.
I am in my second year as a (now certificated!) 6th grade science teacher in Charles County, MD. I have truly enjoyed sharing my life experiences with my students, reminding them that I was a public school student, too! Most recently, I have quickly become an online educator due to Covid-19 and I miss my group of misfits! Sixth grade is a super awkward time for students, so I took so much pleasure in helping my students both in science and in life! Luckily, through interactive lessons, as frustrating as technology can be, I have been able to connect with my students to the best of my ability.

Why do you think Phillips Wharf and its mission is important?

While we want all children to be global citizens, we have to remind them that this goal starts with understanding and appreciating their local community and environment. Phillips Wharf harmoniously offers the community as taste of the old (waterman traditions) mixed with the advancements of the new (aquaculture, coastal restoration, etc). This makes for a truly unique Chesapeake Bay experience for all ages!

How did working/volunteering with Phillips Wharf impact you?

Not only did I learn a TON, but I gained my Eastern Shore family in the process! My work with oysters at PWEC led me to my Masters thesis research in Louisiana on oysters and meeting my husband - so a pretty big impact I'd say!

Can you share a story about an event or a moment when you felt like Phillips Wharf made a difference for someone?

There are many events that come to mind, but Critter Release was a great opportunity for kids to get to handle organisms from the Chesapeake Bay. You'd see so many kids that might be a little hesitant at first, but once they got a taste for touching a horseshoe crab or fish, they couldn't be stopped! The event was a perfect example of the immediate impact that hands on education can have.

Since your time at Phillips Wharf, what have you done? Share with us some of the neat experiences you’ve had since you left.

Whew! Let's see...After PWEC, I went down to Thibodaux, Louisiana for graduate school at Nicholls State University. I taught undergraduate labs; I worked in the field on a state and federally funded shoreline protection project utilizing fabricated oyster reefs as part of my thesis research on seston uptake; I worked on other projects with banding songbirds and seabirds = initiated full blown bird nerdom; and I met some amazing people including my husband, Caleb 🙂 After graduate school, Caleb and I went to work in Singapore with a company that run international fields trips in Southeast Asia that I worked for prior to PWEC. While there, I got to work in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Maldives. After SE Asia, Caleb and I worked in North and South Dakota with a friend of ours from graduate school on her PhD research on nesting songbirds and ducks. After that, we both worked back in Louisiana at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON), which was located about a mile from where we did our thesis research. I worked in the education department, teaching about the local ecosystems and culture to people of all ages. Somewhere in there, Caleb and I got married in Tennessee (with Missy, Donnie, Kelley and Jerry in attendance!) and took a honeymoon in Japan. After LUMCON, we moved up here to Virginia, with me getting a classroom position at my current school in Charles County! I got a scholarship through Audubon to a teachers workshop in Maine last summer and saw PUFFINSSSSS! We also just traveled to Europe over the holidays, being based in the south of France, but also spending time in the Netherlands (got to visit a longtime friend of mine), Italy, Monaco and Austria. I told you - PHEWWWW!

Making a donation to our #GivingTuesdayNOW campaign means supporting education!  The funds used from this campaign will allow us to adapt our education programs so that we may continue to offer interactive environmental education experiences.

To check out other past intern and staff individual responses please click on their name:

Dear Phillips Wharf Environmental Center Supporter,

I want to share with you how Phillips Wharf Environmental Center is pivoting towards new horizons that strengthen our longevity into the future and make our educational programs much more accessible to diverse audiences.

In Phillips Wharf’s 14-year history – two challenges have remained constant—the rising costs of maintaining a waterfront campus and old buildings, and addressing the inaccessibility of Tilghman Island to many school systems and others unable to afford the cost or the time for the long trip from more urban areas like Easton.

With this in mind, Phillips Wharf’s Board of Directors have made a bold decision to ensure the sustainability of our future and educational programs by liquidating our assets on Tilghman Island—including the real estate and property—and re-focus the expected gains from the sale to re-open a location in Easton that the Board will determine.

Be assured—Phillips Wharf will always bring our students to meaningful interactions with the Chesapeake Bay’s ecosystem and inhabitants. We know technology and our FishMobile, for example, can bring experiences and education to more students when we can focus our operations more on education, and less on maintaining an underutilized campus with mounting deferred maintenance costs and more.

Phillips Wharf will continue to carry the essence of encouraging, educating, and engaging Chesapeake Bay stewards from a new location soon. In addition, we’ll be sure to share this exciting news when it comes to fruition with you.

In the meantime, thank you for caring about our students and the Chesapeake Bay as a natural resource and source of healthy seafood and productive jobs for the Shore’s residents. We are excited to bring the Chesapeake Bay closer to our students and the public in ways that are more meaningful. This is a bold step forward not only in Phillips Wharf’s survivability, but also in our thrivability.

Please reach out to me with any questions or concerns you may have. You can reach me at [email protected] or 410-886-9200.

Warmest regards,


Matthew Albers

Board President, Phillips Wharf Environmental Center