COVID-19 has created a lot of change in the last few weeks and we here at the Phillips Wharf Environmental Center are also experiencing this change. In order to protect the health of our staff, we closed to the public and began working remotely on March 13th. April typically marks the beginning of our busy season, with Fishmobile trips, educational programs, workshops, and Farmer’s Markets but all of these programs have been altered in order to support the “shelter-in-place” order currently active in Maryland.
Even with these changes, we continue to provide programming that supports our mission of creating and supporting stewardship of the Chesapeake Bay. We are in the midst of rolling out a virtual field trip program to 4th grade classes in Talbot County. We moved our Oyster Gardening class online so that attendees can continue to learn even with social distancing in place. We continue to provide oysters to the public and businesses through the Fisherman’s Daughter Oyster Company. We continue to produce larvae and spat on shell for local watermen, other aquaculture business, and our Tilghman Islanders Grow Oysters program. As the “shelter-in-place” order continues, we will work to develop and share additional programs in order to continue our work to enhance and sustain the Chesapeake Bay's ecosystems.
We know that times are unpredictable for many people right now, but they are especially hard on non-profits like Phillips Wharf. Our mission and our hard work is in jeopardy of coming to a halt if we are unable to secure funding to help us keep the lights on. This is why we are participating in the new Giving Tuesday Now program.
Giving Tuesday is a global initiative that takes place the Tuesday after Thanksgiving each year. Due to the current circumstances, a spin off day of giving, called Giving Tuesday Now, has been created to raise awareness of the ways in which people can support businesses and nonprofits that may be struggling in this chaotic time. Giving Tuesday Now takes place May 5th, 2020 and on this day, organizations are sharing what makes them impactful as a way to connect with their communities.
As we reflected on where our organization makes the most impact and what the heart of our mission is, we came to the conclusion that education is the core of what we stand for. All of our programs branch out from this focal point, like the roots of a tree. We educate not only the school age children that visit us or that we visit, but also the staff and interns that work with us, allowing them to gain experience before they go on to further their education and their careers. Our past staff are the ones that have taken the knowledge provided by their education and their hands-on experiences at Phillips Wharf and applied it to teaching, researching, and working in the fields of agriculture, conservation, and sustainability.
With the help of everyone who has ever worked, given to, visited, or volunteered with Phillips Wharf, we are building a network of stewards who care about the Chesapeake Bay. In order to showcase this network, we reached out to past staff members to hear what they are up to and how Phillips Wharf was part of their journey. We’d like to share their responses with you in the hopes that you will agree that our work is important and must continue.