Open house fo­cuses on sus­tain­abil­ity

Sunday Star - - LOCAL - By JACK RODGERS jrodgers@ches­pub.com

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.

PHO­TOS BY JACK RODGERS

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.

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