2018 Forum

The 2018 Chesapeake Watershed Forum was held on November 2 – 4 at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV. Our theme was, “Connecting Our Communities: Celebrating Diverse and Innovative Partnerships.”

The theme was chosen so that we may celebrate the many diverse partnerships that have proven successful in the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. The Forum is a social event where peers can network with other groups facing similar challenges, and be inspired to continue the work of preserving and restoring the Watershed. A steering committee, a cross section of our participants’ geographic and organizational diversity, worked for months to pick inspiring speakers and plan the event. Forum participants were encouraged to take an active role in workshops and discussions, enjoy speakers, and learn from the poster session. Government officials, scientists, faith-based organizations, non-profits, businesses, homeowners, community leaders, and students attended. Our location, the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV, provided meeting space and overnight accommodations for 260 people. Over the course of the 3-day event, approximately 390 people from across the Chesapeake Bay watershed attended meetings, workshops, and keynote presentations.

2018 Agenda

Sessions focused on five different categories:

1. Environmental Education
2. Innovative Partnerships
3. Organizational Development
4. Science & Restoration
5. Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

We had six field experience opportunities:

1. Beginning and Advance Tree ID by Earl ‘Bud’ Reaves (Anne Arundel Forestry Board)
2. Exploring Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Through Chesapeake Collective by Erin O’Grady (Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay)
3. Farm Tour by Ron Ohrel (American Dairy Association North East)
4. Making Pictures that Make People Care by Will Parson (Chesapeake Bay Program/Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay)
5. One-on-one Mentoring by Caroline Bott (River Network)
6. Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring 101 by Julie Vastine (Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring)

We also had two post-Forum opportunities on Sunday:

1. Closing the Deal with Rural Landowners by Eric Eckl (Water Words that Work)
2. Buffer Planting in Greencastle, PA by Ryan Davis (Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay)

view the final agenda
view the workshop session descriptions

Forest Champions

We announced our 2018 Chesapeake Forest Champions at the Chesapeake Watershed Forum!

2018 Chesapeake Forest Champions

Sally Claggett, USFS (far left) and Jenny McGarvey, Alliance (far right) pose with the 2018 Chesapeake Forest Champions (from left to right: Kathy Abend, Rick Abend, and Matt Keefer). Photo Credit: Will Parson, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay/Chesapeake Bay Program.

The purpose of this contest is to recognize the outstanding efforts of groups and individuals from around the bay watershed to conserve, restore, and celebrate Chesapeake forests. The contest is open to all including landowners, community groups, nonprofits, forestry and natural resource professionals, schools, youth organizations, businesses, public agencies and others working in rural, suburban and urban areas.

The Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and the US Forest Service presented the 2018 Chesapeake Forest Champion Awards at the 13th Annual Chesapeake Watershed Forum in Shepherdstown, WV, attended by over 425 restoration and protection practitioners annually to inspire and empower local action towards clean water. This year’s honorees included Matt Keefer of Pennsylvania’s DCNR Bureau of Forestry who received “Greatest on the Ground Impact”; Jennifer Gagnon of Virginia Tech and the Virginia Forest Landowner Education Program for “Most Effective at Engaging the Public”; and Rick and Kathy Abend as “Exemplary Forest Stewards.”

Chesapeake Collective

Chesapeake Collective continued to develop with an increasing presence at the 2018 Forum. The Chesapeake Collective is an intentional effort to create a space for a range of diverse voices and narratives to be expressed, shared, and incorporated into the broader conversation about our common vision for a healthy, flourishing, and resilient watershed.  While it certainly does not include all of the multiple voices and stories that make our watershed whole, it does provide a platform and an open invitation to those voices and stories that are often overpowered by the dominant narrative or left out of the conversation around holistic, interdependent watersheds and communities.  Chesapeake Collective recognizes and celebrates our watershed-wide diversity as a source of strength and the foundation for the type of social movement it will take to meet our collective restoration goals.

2018 Demographic Survey Results (pdf)

2018 Sponsors

Oak Sponsors:



Redbud Sponsors:




Paw-Paw Sponsors:


If you have any questions regarding the Chesapeake Watershed Forum please contact Jenny McGarvey.

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Jenny McGarvey Senior Program Manager, Virginia Office

Jenny is a senior program manager based in the Alliance’s Virginia office. She serves a dual managerial role over the Chesapeake Watershed Forum, ForumPlus, and Chesapeake Network, and aspects of our Chesapeake Forest program.

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