Brighton named 2017 Ch­e­sa­peake Cham­pion

Award win­ner scours Mary­land to cat­a­logue ev­ery liv­ing thing

Dorchester Star - - Front Page - By HOWARD FREEDLANDER

CAM­BRIDGE — It started dur­ing a trip to Canada in 2005 to ob­serve Great Gray Owls, when Bill Hu­bick of Pasadena and Jim Brighton of Eas­ton sat down over a few beers and dis­cov­ered they both loved na­ture and its va­ri­ety of species.

In June 2012, while busily tak­ing photos of flow­er­ing plants in the Sev­ern Run En­vi­ron­men­tal Area, an idea was hatched. Brighton and Hu­bick de­cided to es­tab­lish the Mary­land Bio­di­ver­sity Project, a bold en­deavor that would list all the plant and an­i­mal species of Mary­land.

“We felt it very im­por­tant that peo­ple un­der­stand the amaz­ing di­ver­sity that sur­rounds them. We wanted the Mary­land Bio­di­ver­sity Project to light a fire un­der peo­ple, to make ev­ery­one ex­cited about na­ture and the en­vi­ron­ment,” Brighton said.

A web­site (www.mary­land­bio­di­ver­ was cre­ated com­pris­ing a cat­a­logue of

17,270 species in check­lists; 9,037 species with pho­to­graphs; 73,160 to­tal photos; and 325,113 to­tal records. The par­tic­i­pants in the web­site are build­ing a na­ture study com­mu­nity and help­ing Brighton and Hu­bick to pro­mote ed­u­ca­tion and con­ser­va­tion.

Mike Ro­man, Horn Point Lab­o­ra­tory’s di­rec­tor, said, “Jim’s vi­sion for the MBP ide­ally fits the cri­te­ria of the Ch­e­sa­peake Cham­pion award — a com­mu­nity per­son whose vol­un­teer ac­tiv­i­ties demon­strate a com­mit­ment to en­vi­ron­men­tal preser­va­tion and stew­ard­ship of the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay’s nat­u­ral re­sources.”

The an­nual Ch­e­sa­peake Cham­pion award cel­e­bra­tion will take place from 5 to 7 pm. Fri­day, June 23, at the for­mer Mary­land Na­tional Guard Ar­mory in down­town Eas­ton, now owned by Water­fowl Ch­e­sa­peake.

Horn Point will share the funds gen­er­ated by tick­ets with the Mary­land Bio­Di­ver­sity Project. All other pro­ceeds from the cel­e­bra­tion will ben­e­fit HPL’s Bay and Rivers Grad­u­ate Stu­dent En­dow­ment Fund, which sup­ports stu­dents earn­ing a mas­ter’s de­gree or Ph.D. de­gree in prepa­ra­tion for ca­reers in en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­icy, busi­ness, academia or other ar­eas.

As the fifth an­nual Ch­e­sa­peake Cham­pion, Brighton fol­lows in the foot­steps of Amy Haines, Chip Akridge, Al­bert Pritch­ett, and Jor­dan and Alice Lloyd, win­ners, re­spec­tively, in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

A con­ver­sa­tion with Brighton re­veals a per­son com­mit­ted not only to the ex­panded reach of MBP but also an en­hanced ap­pre­ci­a­tion by the pub­lic for the won­ders of na­ture.

In iden­ti­fy­ing plants, but­ter­flies and birds, Brighton is in­tent on mo­ti­vat­ing “ever yone to have a sense of won­der­ment and stew­ard­ship of the land.”

“If we can help cre­ate that feel­ing, we are suc­cess­ful,” he said. “It’s im­por­tant that my neigh­bors ap­pre­ci­ate what they have around them.”

While Brighton fully em­braces in­ter­est and in­quiries by sci­en­tists and aca­demic schol­ars, he re­mains fo­cused on build­ing a strong na­ture com­mu­nity.

“It’s cool when you can iden­tify a species, dis­cover what’s liv­ing around you and take own­er­ship,” Brighton said. “It gives you a sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity — you be­come re­spon­si­ble for your sur­round­ings, your en­vi­ron­ment.”

In his low-key man­ner, Brighton un­der­stands the es­sen­tial im­por­tance of this most un­usual in­ven­tory of Mary­land species that he and Hu­bick have con­structed.

He qui­etly and per­sua­sively draws your at­ten­tion to na­ture, ex­pe­ri­enced by him and a slew of vol­un­teers will­ing and able to spend their free time, armed with cam­eras and notepads, ex­plor­ing Mary­land na­ture.

Brighton views Mary­land as an ideal venue to find and cat­a­logue var­ied and fas­ci­nat­ing species.

“The north meets the south in Mary­land. The Eastern Shore is a bar­rier for many south­ern species. This makes Mar yland a spe­cial place en­vi­ron­men­tally be­cause of di­verse habi­tats,” he said.

A Dorch­ester County na­tive, Brighton is the grand­son of Jim Richard­son, a renowned Cam­bridge boat builder. Dur­ing the week, Brighton plies his ex­per­tise as a painter and fin­isher at Camp­bell’s Boat­yards in Ox­ford, as he has done for 19 years.

“Jim puts the gleam on ev­ery boat that comes from Camp­bell’s,” said Su­san Camp­bell, who with her hus­band, Tom, owns the busi­ness in Ox­ford. “Jim’s love of na­ture and the Mary­land Bio­di­ver­sity Project has been passed on to many of our em­ploy­ees. He has got­ten sev­eral of his co-work­ers in­volved in his love of bird watch­ing.

“Last year, he helped or­ga­nize a fish­ing tour­na­ment, which was com­prised of nine peo­ple; seven of these peo­ple were Camp­bell’s em­ploy­ees. It wasn’t about catch­ing the big­gest fish, but was about catch­ing the most dif­fer­ent species of fish. Each fish caught by the par tic­i­pants was pho­tographed and doc­u­mented for MBP,” Su­san Camp­bell said.

Dur­ing a nine-month pe­riod, the fish­ing tour­na­ment caught and clas­si­fied roughly 75 species, rang­ing in size from 1.5 inches for an eastern mosquitofish to 42 inches for a rock­fish, and from Western Mary­land to the At­lantic coast, ac­cord­ing to Su­san Camp­bell.

The MBP web­site has be­come a valu­able re­source “through com­pro­mise, hard work and lots of com­puter time,” Brighton said. He said he would like to see a sim­i­lar bio­di­ver­sity project in ev­ery state and ever y class­room.

“I want ever ybody to know about this,” he said.

He said he spends con­sid­er­able time on the MBP Face­book page. The MBP Face­book page is one of its ma­jor modes of out­reach, with more than 7,100 “likes.” More than 2,000 peo­ple look daily at the posts, a num­ber that can reach 40,000 at times, Brighton said.

Horn Point, a re­search lab­o­ra­tory of the Univer­sity of Mary­land Cen­ter for En­vi­ron­men­tal Sci­ence, is known for its lead­er­ship in us­ing the tools of sci­ence to re­store the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay. To­day, the lab’s re­search also is ad­vanc­ing coastal so­lu­tions for lo­cal and global cli­mate change. Fac­ulty and stu­dents in­vite com­mu­nity in­quiries about per­plex­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal ques­tions. The web­site can be found at­ and in­cludes a “Guide to Ex­perts” to help peo­ple know where to di­rect ques­tions.

As has been the case dur­ing the past four years, com­mu­nity sup­port of the 2017 Ch­e­sa­peake Cham­pion has been strong. This year’s spon­sors and donors to date are: The Akridge Fam­ily Foun­da­tion; Buffy Line­han and Am­bas­sador Ed Gabriel; Pa­trice and Herb Miller; The Star Demo­crat; Chaney En­ter­prises; Amy Haines and Richard Marks; Camp­bell’s Boat­yards; Bay In­stru­ments LLC.; Jay and Anne Marie Borne­man; Tom and Sheila Buck­mas­ter; David Dunn and Am­bas­sador Amy Bon­durant; Al and Dag­mar Gipe; Jeff and Belinda Mi­ley; Al­bert and Jen­nifer Pritch­ett; Jef f and Diane Sta­ley; Richard and Beverly Til­gh­man; Prov­i­dent State Bank; Howard and Liz Freedlander; Ken­neth and Ju­lia Rose; Kelly Show­ell; Mike and Jen­nie Ro­man; the Izaak Wal­ton League Mid-Shore Chap­ter; and San­dra Can­non-Brown.

For more information about at­tend­ing the event and spon­sor­ships, con­tact Liz Freedlander at 410-829-9913 or lfreed lan­der@ um­


From left are Jim Brighton and Bill Hu­bick, who to­gether es­tab­lished the Mary­land Bio­di­ver­sity Project to cat­a­logue all the plant and an­i­mal species of Mary­land.


A Bal­ti­more ori­ole is pic­tured, and is a bird species cat­a­logued with the Mary­land Bio­di­ver­sity Project, an en­deavor that would list all the plant and an­i­mal species of Mary­land.


A Ruddy Turn­stone is pic­tured, and is a bird species cat­a­logued with the Mary­land Bio­di­ver­sity Project, an en­deavor that would list all the plant and an­i­mal species of Mary­land.


A luna moth is pic­tured, and is a moth species cat­a­logued with the Mary­land Bio­di­ver­sity Project.


A Del­marva Fox Squir­rel is pic­tured, and is a squir­rel species cat­a­logued with the Mary­land Bio­di­ver­sity Project, an en­deavor that would list all the plant and an­i­mal species of Mary­land.


A snowy owl is pic­tured at As­sateague Is­land. The owl is a species cat­a­logued with the Mary­land Bio­di­ver­sity Project, the brain­child of Jim Brighton and Bill Hu­bick.


A crested yel­low rrchid is pic­tured, and is a plant species cat­a­logued with the Mary­land Bio­di­ver­sity Project.

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