Media Release: Eighth Annual DC State Fair Comes to Southwest on September 24

Sunday, September 24, in Southwest Washington, DC, will see the arrival of the eighth annual DC State Fair from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. At Waterfront Station, the public is invited to enjoy contests that crown the city’s best growers, crafters, and cooks; performances from local musicians and dance troupes; and more than 55 food, art, and craft vendors showcasing and selling their wares.

This daylong celebration of all things homegrown is unique among local fairs and festivals: it is run entirely by volunteers, is free to attend, and is held in different neighborhoods from year to year, making the Fair accessible to all DC residents and visitors. This year, the DC State Fair has partnered with the Southwest Business Improvement District to bring the event to Waterfront Station.

“We are thrilled to be part of the DC State Fair this year,” said Steve Moore, Executive Director of the Southwest BID. “This event has become a DC ‘Signature Event.’ It’s unique, fun, and perfect for Southwest.” 

The Live Hula Hoop Contest will return to the DC State Fair in 2017. Image by Elliot Williams/Capital Photography Center.

The Live Hula Hoop Contest will return to the DC State Fair in 2017. Image by Elliot Williams/Capital Photography Center.

While the DC State Fair is inspired by time-honored state fair traditions—like growing and gardening, animal husbandry, and deep-fried foods—it also honors the things that make DC unique. This means the DC State Fair puts on a Pet Parade instead of a pig race and holds competitions to find the best pupusas, mumbo sauce, and Double Dutch jumpers in the city.

“The DC State Fair is not like any other fair,” said Ashley Chaifetz, Contest Coordinator and member of the DC State Fair Board of Directors. “DC is a diverse place and our fair is reflective of our communities. Sure, we’ve got Best Strawberry Jam and Best Apple Pie, but we’ve also got our ever-popular, long-standing Best Compost, Best Bud, and Best Homebrew contests. New to the contest roster for 2017 are Best Kids’ Cupcake, Best Pupusa, Watermelon Seed-Spitting, and Double Dutch. There is something for everyone–from Fido to Felicia–which is why folks continue to show up.”

For the third year, friendly pets on leashes, in cages, or in aquariums are invited to march in our Pet Parade. Pets and their owners are also encouraged to enter our pet-themed contests. Image by Barbara Gilbert/Capital Photography Center.

For the third year, friendly pets on leashes, in cages, or in aquariums are invited to march in our Pet Parade. Pets and their owners are also encouraged to enter our pet-themed contests. Image by Barbara Gilbert/Capital Photography Center.

The DC State Fair is also committed to working with local businesses and organizations that help our community thrive. This year, for instance, the DC State Fair has partnered with NeatMeat DC to supply the sandwiches in its Sloppy Joe Eating Contest and with The Public Option to craft a tribute to the winner of its Homebrew Contest. The DC State Fair has also partnered with Knowledge Commons DC to bring demonstrations and workshops to its Education Stage. 

“DC is home to so many passionate, quirky people with backgrounds in fields like public policy, environmental science, and the arts,” said Ari Hock, Knowledge Commons DC communications lead. “We’ve found thousands of local teachers and students who want to share their ideas, and now we’re partnering with the DC State Fair to amplify their voices.”

The DC State Fair will also host a live collaboration between Bailiwick Clothing Company and Soul & Ink: A Live Screen Printing Experience, who will pair popular Bailiwick designs (including The 51st State series) with DC-inspired Soul & Ink visuals to create unique “tee-mixes” for their customers. 

“We’re big fans of Soul & Ink, and we love the way they make their craft so interactive,” said J.C. Smith, co-owner of Bailiwick. 

Sherry Meneses of Soul & Ink explains, “Bailiwick’s classic typography-based designs, Soul & Ink’s streetwear-style graphics, and our mutual love for DC made this collaboration a natural fit.” 

“And the DC State Fair is the perfect place for it to happen,” Smith added. “The Fair is all about DC pride. It’s family friendly, and it’s very interactive. We’re excited to do this. Folks are in for a treat!” 

Want to participate in the DC State Fair? Enter a contest, volunteer, or just show up on the big day! Learn more at www.dcstatefair.org.

This media release was originally published on the DC State Fair website.

Four tips for evaluating yourself without undervaluing your worth

A tweet once said, Behind every strong woman is 5 other strong women who proofread her email real quick when they had a second. But behind these women, I think, are even more women who explained how to ride the road to success at work. At our HerChesapeake meeting last month, we called on our own members to help us explore our inclination to undervalue our skills and abilities and rate ourselves too low during reviews.
 
Research has found that women are three times more likely than men to underestimate their standing with bosses and coworkers. They tend to undervalue themselves, talk down their achievements, and attribute success to male teammates when working in successful co-ed groups. Women also underrate their performance in skills like decision-making, problem-solving, and strategic awareness, while men overrate their own. Indeed, it seems women have an acute lack of confidence that can undercut their success at work.
 
Because growing evidence suggests confidence is critical to success—and because we want women to be successful—it is critical we work to diminish these self-deprecating tendencies.
 
Pulled directly from our meeting’s discussion, here are four tips for evaluating yourself without undervaluing your worth.

  1. Quantify your accomplishments. The resulting data could help you feel more comfortable describing the great things you’ve done.
  2. Track your accomplishments on a monthly (rather than annual) basis. More regular tracking can mean less chance of missing something.
  3. Don’t be scared to tell the truth. There is no shame in sharing an honest list of your accomplishments.
  4. If you’re filling out a self-evaluation, ask a trusted colleague, mentor or supervisor to complete the same form on your behalf. If their evaluation of your work is more positive, you may realize you’re too hard on yourself.

Have a question of your own? Email us!

This blog post was originally published on the HerChesapeake website

Media Release: Rise in Chesapeake Bay Underwater Grasses for Fourth Year in a Row

In 2016, an estimated 97,433 acres of underwater grasses were mapped in the Chesapeake Bay: the highest amount ever recorded by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS).

This total is 7,433 acres greater than the Chesapeake Bay Program’s 2017 restoration target and 53 percent of the 185,000-acre 2025 goal adopted in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement. Moreover, it is likely that more submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) grew in the region than this estimate suggests: weather conditions and security restrictions prevented researchers from collecting aerial imagery over a portion of the Potomac River. This portion of the Potomac supported almost 2,000 acres of grasses in 2015, and trends suggest this area would have put the Bay-wide total at 99,409 acres—or 54 percent of the goal—had it been mapped.

Experts attribute this rise in underwater grass abundance to a strong increase in the tidal freshwater and moderately salty regions of the Bay. Widgeon grass, in particular, expanded in the latter region, but because it is a “boom and bust” species whose abundance can rise and fall from year to year, a widgeon-dominant spike is not guaranteed to persist in future seasons.

In addition to its annual financial support of the aerial surveys that are used to monitor underwater grasses across the region, the Chesapeake Bay Program has funded a citizen science project in which local riverkeepers, watershed organizations and volunteers will collect data on underwater grass abundance and species diversity during the 2017 growing season. As part of this project, Chesapeake Commons is expanding its Water Reporter app to include bay grass monitoring features. By downloading the app and joining the Chesapeake Bay SAV Watchers group, anyone with a smartphone can help monitor underwater grasses whenever and wherever they are on the water.

Image by Chesapeake Bay Program.

Image by Chesapeake Bay Program.

Local Highlights

  • The Susquehanna Flats. The iconic grass beds at the mouth of the Susquehanna River provide critical habitat to fish and shellfish, and food to migrating waterfowl. In 2011, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee reduced underwater grass abundance in the Susquehanna Flats by more than one-third, from 13,273 acres to 8,479 acres. These grass beds fell to 6,024 acres in 2012 before they began to expand again in 2013. Over the past four years, grasses in the region have steadily recovered. In 2016, the beds reached 8,617 acres, with the biggest bed in the system reaching 5,993 acres. Researchers observed more than 11 grass species growing there, including wild celery, water stargrass, coontail and several naiads and pondweeds. Species diversity is critical to bed resilience and habitat quality.
  • Smith and Tangier Islands. At over 10,000 acres, the grasses that stretch from Smith Island to Tangier Island make up the biggest contiguous grass bed in the Bay. Widgeon grass dominates the area, but eelgrass can also be found. Large grass beds like this one are more resilient than smaller, fringe beds, which are more susceptible to stressors like limited light or direct physical damage. 
  • The Chester River. Between 2015 and 2016, there was a threefold increase in underwater grasses in the middle and upper portions of the Chester River, from 108 to 460 acres. Wild celery dominates the grass beds, and local efforts by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Anne Arundel Community College to restore wild celery from seed have shown promising success.

Issues

Like grasses on land, underwater grasses need sunlight to survive. When the waters of the Chesapeake Bay become clouded with algae blooms or suspended sediment, sunlight cannot reach the bottom habitat where these grasses grow. While healthy grass beds can trap and absorb some nutrient and sediment pollution—thus improving water clarity where they grow—too much pollution can cause grass beds to die off. Water temperatures, strong storms and drought can also affect the growth and survival of underwater plants. Chesapeake Bay Program partners are working to improve water clarity, protect and restore grass beds, enhance bay grass research and expand education and outreach to restore underwater grasses and boost their habitat benefits in the watershed.

Importance

Underwater grass beds are critical to the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. They keep our waters clean by absorbing excess nutrients, trapping suspended sediment and slowing wave action and shoreline erosion. Bay grasses also offer food to small invertebrates and migratory waterfowl and shelter young fish and blue crabs. In fact, bay grass abundance is one of several factors that can impact the health and stability of the blue crab population: the loss of these grasses is a loss of nursery habitat, which pushes young crabs to gather in the limited nurseries that remain.

Earlier this month, data collected by Maryland and Virginia through the Bay-wide Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey showed that, while the overall blue crab population fell 18 percent between 2016 and 2017, the abundance of adult females increased 31 percent from 194 million to 254 million. The Chesapeake Bay Program tracks the abundance of adult female blue crabs in relation to a population target and an overfishing threshold as an indicator of blue crab population health. The 2017 total is above the 70 million threshold and the 215 million target and marks the highest amount ever recorded by the Winter Dredge Survey.

Because bay grasses are sensitive to pollution but quick to respond to water quality improvements, their abundance is a good indicator of Bay health. To support the resurgence of underwater grass beds in the Bay, cities and towns can reduce polluted runoff and upgrade wastewater treatment plants with pollution-reducing technologies, farmers can use best management practices to keep fertilizers in their fields, boaters can steer clear of bay grass beds that are growing in shallow waters and homeowners can use rain barrels or rain gardens to slow nutrient- and sediment-laden stormwater runoff.

A longer version of this media release was originally published on the Chesapeake Bay Program's flagship website.

By the Numbers: 458,000

When you imagine fish in the Chesapeake Bay, top predators probably come to mind. But the most important fish in the Bay weighs no more than a pair of playing cards, measures no longer than the width of your hand and is more abundant than any other fish that calls the Chesapeake home. 

The bay anchovy is the most abundant fish in the Chesapeake Bay and serves as an important source of food for a diverse set of predators. Image by Ken-ichi Ueda/Flickr. 

The bay anchovy is the most abundant fish in the Chesapeake Bay and serves as an important source of food for a diverse set of predators. Image by Ken-ichi Ueda/Flickr. 

The bay anchovy (Anchoa mitchilli) can be found in great numbers along the Atlantic coast and in all parts of the Chesapeake Bay. “It is the single most abundant fish on the east coast of North America,” said fisheries scientist Ed Houde. “That in itself says something about its importance.”

Because it is such an oft-consumed prey item for so many predators, the bay anchovy is considered a forage fish. But the bay anchovy stands out among forage species. Scientists have long known, for instance, that the bay anchovy is a major source of energy fueling the growth and production of predators in the Chesapeake, and can even comprise up to 90 percent of the diets of predatory fish in the fall. A recent investigation into the diets of five predatory fish found that the bay anchovy was the fishes’ most common prey, confirming the bay anchovy is the most important forage species in the Bay ecosystem.

“We’ve studied the production and consumption of bay anchovy in the Chesapeake Bay, and the numbers are impressive,” said Houde, who worked at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Chesapeake Biological Laboratory for more than 35 years and served as the institution’s Vice President for Education before retiring in July 2016. According to Houde, about 50,000 tons of bay anchovy can be found in this estuary at any given time—but an average of 458,000 tons are produced here each year. “That means a huge amount is being eaten and is fueling the production of Bay predators,” Houde said. 

According to fisheries scientist Ed Houde, several characteristics make the bay anchovy the perfect prey fish. “It’s highly available, it’s the right size and it’s widely distributed over the whole Chesapeake Bay.” Image by Dave Harp/Bay Journal.

According to fisheries scientist Ed Houde, several characteristics make the bay anchovy the perfect prey fish. “It’s highly available, it’s the right size and it’s widely distributed over the whole Chesapeake Bay.” Image by Dave Harp/Bay Journal.

According to Houde, several characteristics make the bay anchovy the perfect prey fish. First, it’s a small fish, which means a range of predators both big and small can fit the fish into their mouths. Second, it’s a fecund fish, which means it spawns large numbers of eggs; eggs, larvae, juveniles and adults are eaten by predators. Third, there are a lot of them, almost everywhere, all the time. While other prey species may only inhabit certain areas of the Bay at certain times of year, the bay anchovy is generally available throughout the Bay most of the year.

Indeed, the bay anchovy is surprisingly tolerant of both the normal fluctuations observed in an estuarine environment and the hostile conditions that can occur when this environment is stressed. Through laboratory experiments and field work, Houde and his students have found that low dissolved oxygen, for instance, may not impact the bay anchovy like it impacts many other species. Areas of low dissolved oxygen—which occur in the Bay each summer, and which can suffocate shellfish and other organisms living on or near the bottom—seem to affect the distribution of bay anchovy but not their death rates, driving adults into the lower portion of the Bay. Coincidentally, it is here that bay anchovy larvae and young are most likely to thrive. Although counterintuitive, low dissolved oxygen can enhance the bay anchovy’s reproductive success.

“This is not an argument to support benefits of low dissolved oxygen in the Bay,” Houde cautioned. “But in the case of the anchovy, it does seem to promote conditions that increase its productivity.”

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science tracks bay anchovy abundance as an indicator of Chesapeake Bay health. The institution has given bay anchovy abundance a Very Good score in its annual Bay report card for eight of the past ten years. 

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science tracks bay anchovy abundance as an indicator of Chesapeake Bay health. The institution has given bay anchovy abundance a Very Good score in its annual Bay report card for eight of the past ten years. 

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Virginia Institute of Marine Science have gathered survey data on bay anchovy abundance for decades, and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science has also tracked this number as an indicator of Bay health. While bay anchovy populations fluctuate seasonally and annually and the fish is less abundant now than in the decades before 1990, Houde does not believe the bay anchovy has declined since the mid-1990s.

That said, Houde acknowledges that there must be environmental thresholds the bay anchovy cannot successfully cross. Little research has been done into the effects that chemical contaminants could have on the fish, and environmental conditions that lower plankton productivity—the mainstay of the bay anchovy’s diet—could have substantial effects on anchovy production and abundance.

How can we ensure the continued abundance of the most important fish in the Bay? “Ensuring the bay anchovy population remains healthy depends on keeping estuaries healthy,” Houde said. “Good water quality that supports abundant zooplankton to fuel anchovy production is what we need to maintain the health of anchovies. That’s not so different from [protecting] most of the things in the Bay.”

Through the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, the Chesapeake Bay Program has committed to improving our understanding of the role of forage species in the Bay. Learn about our work to develop a strategy for assessing the Bay’s forage base. 

This blog post was originally published on the Chesapeake Bay Program's flagship website.

By the Numbers: 60

Three centuries ago, the Chesapeake Bay watershed was covered with trees. Maples, pines and oaks captured rainfall, stabilized the soil and offered food, shelter and migration paths to wildlife. But as the country was settled and developed, more people moved into the region, and forests were cleared for farms and communities and trees were cut for timber and fuel. The population of the region now stands at almost 18 million—more than double what it was in the 1950s. While valuable forests do remain in the region, many suffer from fragmentation: separation into smaller pieces that are vulnerable to threats.

Image by Chesapeake Bay Program.

Image by Chesapeake Bay Program.

According to a report from the U.S. Forest Service, 60 percent of Chesapeake forests have been divided into disconnected fragments by roads, homes and other gaps that are too wide or dangerous for wildlife to cross. The isolated communities of plants and animals that result have smaller gene pools that make them more susceptible to disease. The sensitive species that thrive in the moderate temperatures and light levels of an “interior” forest (which is mature and separate from other land uses) can’t find the unique habitat characteristics they need. And the forests themselves are more vulnerable to invasive species and other threats.

In the 1600s, forests covered 95 percent of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. In 2011, just 55 percent of the watershed was forested.

In the 1600s, forests covered 95 percent of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. In 2011, just 55 percent of the watershed was forested.

In an effort to reconnect fragmented forests, conservationists have turned to wildlife corridors. These corridors give wildlife the space to move and can be found around the world. The World Wildlife Federation runs the Freedom to Roam initiative to protect corridors along the Northern Great Plains and Eastern Himalayas. The National Wildlife Federation runs the Critical Paths Project to cut the number of fatal road crossings for animals in Vermont. And watershed states like Maryland and Virginia have incorporated wildlife corridors into their green infrastructure plans.

Virginia landowners Christine and Fred Andreae receive the Exemplary Forest Steward award from Craig Highfield of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. Image by Chesapeake Bay Program.

Virginia landowners Christine and Fred Andreae receive the Exemplary Forest Steward award from Craig Highfield of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. Image by Chesapeake Bay Program.

Even local landowners have contributed to the corridor movement: in September, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay recognized Christine and Fred Andreae as Exemplary Forest Stewards for their work to manage 800 acres of forestland—including a corridor that connects George Washington National Forest and Shenandoah National Park—along the Page and Warren county lines in Virginia.

Christine and Fred placed the property under conservation easement through the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, which was established by the Commonwealth in 1966. The Andreaes have also convinced their neighbors to follow suit: what started as an agreement between Christine, Fred and one neighbor to connect a patch of land on two sides of the Shenandoah River eventually expanded to include eight property owners and 1,750 contiguous acres. Today, bald eagles and bears abound on the land that can be seen from Skyline Drive.

“[Our neighbors] wanted to keep the land undeveloped,” Fred said when asked how he motivated others to join the conservation cause. “Most of them had family connections to the land—some [spanning] 100 years or more. It was their heritage they wanted to see preserved.”

The Andreaes have made their property as self-sustaining as possible so that once their two sons inherit it, it won’t have to be sold. “We’ve done something that will last. That’s a legacy. That will be there, theoretically, forever,” Fred said. “There aren’t too many things you can do that will be there after you’re gone—that will have an impact on my family and the other people who live in the area.”

Through the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, the Chesapeake Bay Program has committed to expanding urban tree canopy and restoring hundreds of thousands of miles of streamside trees and shrubs. Learn more about forests and our work to protect them.

This blog post was originally published on the Chesapeake Bay Program's flagship website.

Tilghman Islanders grow oysters to replenish local reefs

On private piers up and down Harris Creek, hundreds of metal cages hang from ropes into blue-green water. Inside each cage are countless little oysters, which will grow here, safe from predators and sediment, during their first nine months of life. Once the spat are large enough, they will be pulled out of their short-term shelters and put onto boats to be replanted on protected reefs just a few short miles away. 

Maryland homeowners plant big trees for big Chesapeake Bay benefits

Big trees are integral to the health of the Chesapeake Bay. But big trees can be hard to find. To provide homeowners with the native trees that have high habitat value and the heft that is needed to trap polluted runoff, species like pin oak, sugar maple and pitch pine are grown in a Middle River, Md., reforestation nursery. The one-acre nursery began as a staging ground for large-scale plantings but soon expanded to meet a noticeable residential need.