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When they arrived on the island earlier in the day, the group was greeted by Adam Wickline, the CBF educator who lives on Fox Island all summer. “Ask Adam” becomes a refrain both students and teachers repeat all weekend. He can rattle off the scientific names of birds, fish, and invertebrates and takes every question seriously.
Wickline spends the weekend encouraging the visitors to immerse themselves in the environment. “We're on island time here,” he says. Students and teachers have had to part with their watches, cell phones, and iPods. “This is a time for you to slow down and enjoy the Chesapeake Bay.”
Enjoy, and recognize that chances to enjoy the Bay are disappearing, he says. Sitting on the beach Friday night, Wickline talks about how much Fox Island has physically shrunk in the past decade due to erosion.
“Within our lifetimes, Fox will probably disappear entirely,” he says.
Don Baugh, CBF's vice president for education, has worked for the foundation for 32 years and says that those years have brought scientific progress in understanding the Chesapeake watershed but also worsening of the Bay's condition.
“We gave [the Bay] a D on its latest report card,” he says. “And it's failing because of what we're doing on the land.”
That's why CBF's trips try to inspire students to care about environmental issues.
“We bring kids to the water,” says Baugh. “That automatically engages them. Who isn't interested in being out on the water and dredging things up, seeing what's down there?”
The approach seems to be working. This is 18-year-old McCurdy's second trip—she came last fall and couldn't wait to return once more before graduation. “Coming here really brings it all home,” she says. “We sit in science class all year reading our textbooks. Then we get to come here and experience this for ourselves and it makes it about so much more than just numbers and lectures.”
When she laughs that she now wants to become a professional sea squirt dissector, McCurdy is joking, but she later says more seriously that biology is on the shortlist of college majors she's considering, in part, she says, because of Fox Island.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: To see CBF's State of the Bay 2010 Report Card, visit http://www.cbf.org/Page.aspx?pid=2220.