Howard County Extension and Community Ecology Institute Receive Prestigious Cornerstone Award
Howard County Extension, through its Watershed Stewards Academy (HoCo WSA), and the Community Ecology Institute (CEI) have been awarded a prestigious “Cornerstone Award” at the recent University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR) annual awards ceremony in College Park, Maryland. The Cornerstone Awards provide recognition in 5 major areas including the category “Optimizing Urban Environments.” The award, “Freetown Walkable Watershed,” was submitted by Mr. Terry Matthews of Howard County Extension and Dr. Chiara D’Amore of the Community Ecology Institute.
The Community Ecology Institute (CEI), a nonprofit organization, in 2019 purchased the last working farm in the city of Columbia, Maryland to protect it from development and create a Community Ecology Center. The 6.4 acre organic Freetown farm is located in a historic African-American community and is less than a quarter of a mile from the Middle Patuxent River. Freetown Farm includes a variety of ecosystems, including fields, meadows, woods, wetlands, and two small streams. Stormwater from neighboring Atholton High School flows onto the farm creating flooding and erosion for the farm and residential neighbors. In 2020 upon assessing the community at the request of CEI, University of Maryland Extension’s Howard County Watershed Stewards Academy (WSA) documented CEI and Atholton High School to be in a unique position to support the health of the Middle Patuxent watershed through treatment of a significant volume of stormwater runoff as well as model how homeowners and commercial properties can address stormwater issues in a socio-ecologically beneficial manner. Through the Freetown Walkable Watershed initiative, WSA and CEI came to recognize the opportunity to advance watershed restoration goals and improve local stewardship by implementing this community-driven watershed planning effort. The project would bring key stakeholders together to identify near-term green infrastructure improvements and build capacity to implement green infrastructure projects to improve water quality in the Middle Patuxent River and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
Awards by the College recognize demonstrated innovation and established models for others to emulate. Each of AGNR’s five Strategic Initiative Implementation Teams select the winners from the pool of nominations based on creativity, innovation and how well the nominee advanced the Implementation Team’s priority areas.
For more information about the award or the Freetown Walkable Watershed, please contact Terry Mathews, Howard County Extension at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about University of Extension environmental, natural resources and Sea Grant programs, please contact Bill Hubbard at email@example.com.
The University of Maryland Extension programs are open to all and will not discriminate against anyone because of race, age, sex, color, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, ancestry, or national origin, marital status, genetic information, political affiliation, or gender identity and expression.