This week’s Friday Focus organization invites people to take a break from the hectic buzz of the technological world and escape to the natural landscape of Calvert County. Working with the local Division of Natural Resources, The Calvert Nature Society (previously known as the Battle Creek Nature Education Society) provides opportunities for appreciation and understanding of the natural world through various outreach initiatives. We caught up with Anne Sundermann, the Society’s Executive Director for this week’s interview.
Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)
A: Battle Creek Nature Education Society was formed in the late 1980s to support the Calvert County nature parks: Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, Flag Ponds Nature Park, Kings Landing Park, Biscoe Gray Heritage Farm and other natural areas in the county. The Society works in partnership with the County’s Division of Natural Resources to offer nature programs to residents and park visitors. We also support the preservation of the Calvert County’s natural heritage, work to protect lands in the county, highlight the importance of our natural resources, and promote environmentally aware and literate communities.
Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?
A: The Society has a long tradition of supporting the county in its effort to improve and expand the nature parks in the County. Right now, Calvert County has provided the Society with a grant to rebuild the Fisherman’s Shanty at Flag Ponds. The Flag Ponds fisherman’s shanty is a reminder of the thriving commercial fisheries that were a main component of the economies of our bayside towns. The shanties were in use from the early 1900s until the mid to late 1950s.
The Flag Ponds shanty was destroyed in an act of arson during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. So many people in Calvert responded to our plea for donations of both financial support and for period items to refurnish the shanty. Work will start soon on the new building and we are very excited to be able to have such a large part in bringing this piece of Calvert history back to life.
Q: What is your biggest challenge?
A: Time. Our hectic schedules leave little room for downtime and often a walk in the woods gets put on the back burner in the rush to complete errands or catch up on chores. And there are so many distractions, with the constant interruptions from electronic media. As people spend more time online, they can become disconnected from the “IRL” (in real life) opportunities around them. BCNES/Calvert Nature Society strives to re-connect individuals to the natural world. We already provide programs for pre-school to adult, but we want to provide more programming that will catch the interest of middle and high schoolers.
Q: Are there any upcoming events?
A: We have a full calendar of fall and winter events, including our volunteer events. We have a lot of fun events scheduled for late October/early November. The Nature Photography Mini Camp connects art and nature on October 27. Our Barn Owl Workday is scheduled for Friday, November 7. Calvert Stewards are planting holly trees at the Cypress Swamp on November 1. And there is a dog walk at our newest park, Biscoe Gray Heritage Farm, also on November 1. Most events are free for Society members. See the full calendar at www.calvertparks.org/calendar.html.
Q: How can people get involved with your organization?
A: Assisting at the Calvert County nature parks is a rewarding way to raise awareness of the importance of our natural lands. Natural Resources staff develops programs that present a continuing stream of environmental action activities at the county nature parks for children, families, and adults.
Our volunteers teach school children the ChesPax curriculum, they plant trees and butterfly gardens, they walk the trails, help monitor wildlife, and in general, provide stewardship for our nature parks. Our Junior Ranger Corps engages youth, ages 12-16 in park projects and teaches outdoor and leadership skills. Calvert Stewards tackles trail maintenance and other park projects.
Our volunteers come from all walks of life and have many different interests, but all use their experience to help preserve the natural heritage of Calvert County. Volunteer opportunities are listed at www.calvertparks.org/volunteer.html