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  • Devyn Wong

A Conversation with Maia Ferrerya about the Chesapeake Bay

Maia and other student leaders seining (a type of net fishing) to observe the different marine species present in the Black Walnut Creek, which feeds into the Chesapeake Bay.

Over the summer, Maia Ferrerrya ‘22 volunteered with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) to learn more about the local bodies of water and work to improve the Bay. Because she is now an expert on all things Chesapeake Bay, I thought it would be interesting to hear from Maia about her experience over the summer and share how everyone can get involved with improving our local environment.

Devyn: So, Maia, why did you decide to get involved with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation?

Maia: I live in Annapolis in a town called Highland Beach. It is a historically black beach, and my family has had property there for over 128 years. The town is right on the Chesapeake Bay. Over time, I have seen the health and quality of the Bay and my town drastically decrease. Two years ago, there was a big storm and my entire neighborhood flooded. That’s when I got in touch with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to help communities like mine that have been affected by flooding. I became a student leader, attending monthly meetings with other student leaders to talk about certain issues that affect the bay, watersheds and future events for volunteering. We also go on two expeditions throughout the year, including the Summer Confluence, which is a week, and a Fall Confluence, which is three days long, and we travel to certain places to learn about how the local water affects the surrounding communities.

Devyn: How does the health of the Chesapeake Bay impact the community?

Maia: Annapolis is a big seafood port, and a lot of people in my town depend on seafood for the local economy, so with the decline of the Bay, their livelihoods are at risk. Not only does it affect the communities surrounding the watershed, but also it affects the airshed. Oceans and marine life are major components in providing oxygen for humans, so if the Bay can’t provide sufficient oxygen, it will decrease the air quality of the areas in the airshed. Oceans also absorb a lot of the carbon dioxide humans produce, so the health of the bay is important for that process.

Devyn: How do you think people with less access (like people who live farther or don’t have time to physically go there) to the Bay can get involved from home?

Maia: My chapter for the CBF student leadership program consists of people all over Maryland– many members are from Montgomery County and because the Bay is affected by all states in the watershed. you don’t need to live right near it to do something. There are also volunteer opportunities through the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to get involved on land, such as tree planting in Montgomery County and getting working at regenerative farms in Upper Marlboro.

Devyn: Biden’s infrastructure bill provides a large amount of money dedicated to replacing lead service lines and pipes to provide clean drinking water to everyone and strengthening infrastructure to prevent droughts and floods across the country. How do you think this bill will impact the Chesapeake Bay?

Maia: Well, the east coast does not really have a problem with droughts and finding drinking water, but we do experience a lot of flooding. I think that this bill will help communities surrounding the bay because it will provide sustainable ways of preventing flooding, which will help prevent coastal erosion–a major issue and also something that my own community faces.

Devyn: If there was one thing you wish everyone could do to help the foundation, what would it be?

Maia: Volunteer. If you go on the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s website, you can find local volunteer opportunities (if you need community service hours, this is perfect).

Donate. There is also a place on the website where you can donate to the foundation.

Come to events that help fund the CBF. One of the student leaders from Towson organized an event called the Tributary Festival. It was a concert with food trucks, merchandise, raffles/games and stands that provided information about how to get involved with programs like CBF. All the proceeds from this event went to CBF.

You could also become a student leader. The application is on the website. Caroline Kitt ‘22, who is also a student leader, and I are more than happy to talk to anyone interested in getting more involved.

Devyn: Thank you so much for sharing! I loved hearing about your experience, and I can’t wait to volunteer with you!



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