Open house focuses on sustainability
CAMBRIDGE — The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Horn Point Laboratory opened its doors Saturday, Oct. 13, for its 17th annual open house.
The event featured kidfriendly displays and interactive tents, where visitors could learn about the affects of oysters on the Chesapeake Bay, the food production of the Bay, the importance of marshlands and more.
This year’s theme for the event was “Sustainable Solutions through Science,” which taught visitors about the lab’s research into environmental sustainability. Graduate students from the University of Maryland, along with doctoral researchers, explained displays throughout Horn Point’s Aquaculture and Restoration Ecology Laborator y.
Visitors also could explore Horn Point Laboratory’s boat basin, where the research vessel Rachel Carson offered a look into new advances in aquaculture. The lab’s oyster farm showed visitors the process of moving hatched oysters to permanent locations in the Bay, along with the equipment used to do so.
A hay ride served as a shuttle for visitors to visit the dock, along with the lab’s new 10-acre solar field — which generates 50 percent of the facility’s annual energy consumption.
The center’s oyster hatchery explained how spat, or oyster larvae, attach to shells to form dense oyster beds, which help strain and clean the Bay of harmful sediments. Also on display were a group of sturgeons, which the lab has been working to conserve.
Horn Point Laboratory Director Mike Roman said the event draws visitors “from young to gray.” Roman, who has directed the lab since 2001, said when the open house event first launched it was only every other year.
“When it first started, we got like, 100 people, now it’s in excess of 700,” Roman said. “I think people enjoy it as a family event. Grandparents bring their children; people bring their neighbors and relatives. And we try to change it every year so even if you come back different years you see different things.”
Roman said the theme of sustainability for the 2018 open house tied directly to the research efforts at Horn Point Laboratory. Not only does sustainability positively affect the environment, but it is also good for business, he said.
“We’re all about having a sustained economy, as well as environment. We’re creating jobs that sustain the environment,” Roman said.
Roman said his favorite part of the open houses is seeing the excitement of the children interacting with exhibits.
“They’re so excited to see the oysters, to see the sturgeons, learn about recycling,” Roman said. “A lot of people in the community don’t even know we’re here. We’ve been here since ‘73,... It’s great to display our work to the public.”
Community relations manager Carin Starr said there are 30 graduate students participating in research at the lab. Starr said lab faculty, along with students, helped man exhibits during the open house.
“The point of the exhibits is to make the science seem a little more real, a little more on everyone’s level rather than up there on the scientific level,” Starr said. “My favorite part is all the people here.”
The Oyster Recovery Partnership’s mascot, “Shelly,” poses for photos with visitors Saturday, Oct. 13. The Horn Point Laboratory partnered with the Oyster Recovery Partnership, Talbot Mentors, Department of National Resources and more during the open house.
Whitley Gray, a graduate student, shows visitors how oysters can affect water quality during the Horn Point Laboratory 2018 open house Saturday, Oct. 13.
Horn Point Lab researcher Dr. Judy O’Neil, left, and student Morgan Ross pose for a photo aboard the research vessel Rachel Carson, Saturday, Oct. 13. Ross and O’Neil explained the lab’s aquaculture efforts to visitors during the Horn Point Laboratory 2018 open house.