On the last day of this week’s seminar, the day started as usual with a daily briefing at the hotel. This morning the topic was “Considering Impacts – Policy Analysis”, facilitated by program leader Eriks Dunens. We wrapped up our briefing by 7:30 am, and jumped on the bus with our suitcases, heading for Hollywood, Maryland.

Our first stop was at Hollywood Oysters which is located on the Patuxent River in Maryland which leads into Chesapeake Bay. The owner, Tal Petty, told us about issues that impact his aquaculture farm like such as urbanization, government regulation, desalination of the bay from heavy rains and neighbors who support his farm, but do not care to have it in their back yard.

While we toured the farm, the bus driver decided to go off-roading and the consequences affected us all. Luckily, we just had sessions in stress management, collaboration, and leadership styles.

After the luggage was moved into the new bus, we listened to presentations during lunch, from Audrey Zwanenburg from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Jason Kepler from the Maryland Department of Agriculture. Their messages included cleaning the water using oysters as a filter and mandatory nutrient management practices placed on farmers. The goals to improve the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay watershed were laid out by both. Audrey explained that Oyster farmers are actually called “Watermen” in the region. Jason had actually graduated from the LEAD Maryland program, which is similar to MARL. He touched on general agricultural production in the state, including poultry, dairy, and special activities around the urban area of Washington, D.C. such as agri-tourism and the equine sector.

We jumped back into the bus which took us to the airport. The plane had been slightly delayed which was okay, we are just hoping it stays out of the mud! Everyone arrived home safely that night and the next morning. We are grateful for the many educational leadership opportunities.

Submitted by Rodd Beyer