June 7, 2021
Op-Ed in The Capital
Small environmental groups are making a difference in Annapolis. They need your help.
by Elvia Thompson & Nina Fisher
Residents of Anne Arundel County and Annapolis are fortunate to have so many environmental organizations keeping an eye on our little corner of the planet.
The bigger organizations are known to many, but it’s the smaller nonprofits that supply the boots on the ground and hands in the dirt while also building community.
For 36 hours on Tuesday and Wednesday, the general public has the opportunity to support these small organizations by opening wallets and hearts during an annual online philanthropic event called the GreenGive.
Through GreenGive, 10 organizations that work primarily in Anne Arundel County — both individually and in collaboration — come together as one to raise money for vital operations and programs. We each stand under the umbrella of GreenGIve, making us stronger through our unity. At the same time, each organization can showcase its unique role in protecting the health of our lands and waterways.
Watershed Stewards Academy builds a county network of trained knowledgeable Master Watershed Stewards who assist neighbors in reducing pollutants from their yards while mobilizing community leaders to support sustainable landscapes and clean waters. Indeed, many members of other GreenGive organizations are also Master Watershed Stewards.
Unity Gardens creates grassroots environmental change by offering small grants to community groups that plant native gardens, reduce stormwater runoff, foster thriving ecosystems, and create natural beauty. Several GreenGive organizations have used Unity Gardens grants as part of their own programs.
St. Luke’s Restoration of Nature continues restoring a Chesapeake watershed from headwater to tidewater on Back Creek in Annapolis, naturally filtering 28 acres of polluted urban runoff. The re-created stream/floodplain ecosystem acts as an environmental education campus, improves resilience to climate change and offers a welcoming green space for visitors.
Spa Creek Conservancy speaks for the creek and stewards the Spa Creek watershed through education, preservation, mitigation and installation of millions of dollars of restoration projects that have made it a model for restoring and protecting urban watersheds.
The Severn Riverkeeper program protects and restores the Severn River for families and future generations. It focuses on reducing pollution, muddy runoff, contaminants, and habitat loss so that the Severn can drop off the EPA’s “impaired waterways” list and once again become safe and swimmable.
Severn River Association, America’s oldest river group, engages the local community with the Severn River and its tributaries through advocacy, education, and restoration, with its floating classroom, water quality monitoring and oyster reef programs.
Scenic Rivers Land Trust works with landowners and others to conserve, in perpetuity, natural and scenic areas including forests, wetlands, farmlands and other open spaces in the county’s watersheds since preventing destruction of mature forests is one of the most effective ways to combat climate change and filter rainwater.
Friends of Jug Bay protects and promotes the natural environment, ecology and history of Jug Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, the Patuxent River and its watershed through education, research, and stewardship.
Arundel Rivers Federation uses science, restoration, and community action to protect, preserve and restore the South, West, and Rhode rivers by working with local communities to attain clean, fishable and swimmable waters.
Annapolis Green brings the global effects of climate change to the local level. It builds community through programs focusing on native habitat gardening, waste reduction — particularly plastics — zero-waste events and no-emissions transportation with electric vehicles.
Please visit greengive.org and donate to one, two or more of these small organizations that do so much to protect our environment and reinvigorate our connection to Nature, each in its own way.
Elvia Thompson is president and co-founder of Annapolis Green. Nina Fisher is the former president of Scenic Rivers Land Trust.
June 14, 2020
GreenGive Partners Follow 33-Year Tradition & Wade-In
at Annapolis Creeks to Measure Water Clarity
GreenGive organization members and volunteers followed the “Wade In” tradition started by State Senator Bernie Fowler 33 years ago in the Patuxent River by wading into Annapolis’ four creeks to assess water clarity. The waders move into the water until they can no longer see their feet or their sneakers, as an unscientific, yet easy-to-understand measure of how clear our creek waters are.
Back Creek (2019 measurement was 43.3”)
40” at Annapolis Maritime Museum
30” at Annapolis Maritime Museum’s Ellen O. Moyer Back Creek Nature Park
College Creek (2019 measurement was 39.4”)
19.5” at the St. John’s College living shoreline
Spa Creek (2019 measurement was 19.7”)
26” at Truxtun Park
Weems Creek (2019 measurement was 29.5”)
25.5” at Dewey Dock
In summary, Back Creek clarity was about the same as last year, College Creek was half as clear, Spa Creek was more clear, and Weems Creek was slightly less clear. This year more underwater grasses are being seen in almost all of the Bay’s tributaries.
Water clarity is important because it can affect the health of underwater grasses which are a critical part of the ecology of the Bay and its tributaries. When water is murky sunlight reaching underwater grasses is reduced making it difficult or impossible for photosynthesis to happen. Bay and river water can become cloudy from excess nutrients (such as fertilizers) and sediments (soil runoff or erosion in rainstorms) which fuel algae growth. When the algae dies the decomposition reduces available oxygen in the water harming aquatic wildlife.
Senator Fowler began his informal “sneaker index” of water clarity because he was concerned about the declining health of the Patuxent and the Chesapeake Bay. When he was a boy he could see crabs scurrying under his feet at chest-high depth. Read more here. The tradition has continued throughout the Bay and its tributaries.
Steve Adams wades into Back Creek at the Annapolis Maritime Museum beach where the water clarity allowed him to see his feet at a depth of 40 inches.
Amy Clements of Spa Creek Conservancy waded into Spa Creek at Truxtun Park to 26 inches before she could no longer see her feet.
Chris “Goose” Norman wades 30 inches into Back Creek at the Annapolis Maritime Museum's Back Creek Nature Park, social distancing with his mask.
May 14, 2021
GreenGive Partners Volunteer to Help Build Nature Sculpture at Maryland Hall
How the installation looked on May 16:
July 8, 2020
Suzanne Etgen, 443-871-0700,
Elvia Thompson, 410-212-7280,
Fourth Annual GreenGive Launches July 21
10 Local Environmental Organizations Fundraise Together
Ten environmental organizations that work collaboratively in Anne Arundel County are launching a 36-hour online event to increase community engagement and raise funds with fun and education. The event will kick off with a Facebook Watch party at 7pm on July 21 (at this link: https://www.facebook.com/GreenGiveAACo/), featuring mini-videos produced by each of the partner organizations.
“The pandemic has made it clear that Nature is vital to our health as people headed to parks and green space as a respite from social isolation at home,” said Suzanne Etgen, director of the Anne Arundel County Watershed Stewards Academy, one of the partner organizations. “All the partner organizations work to protect our environment, each in its own way.”
The GreenGive initiative is designed to both expand the community’s engagement with all the partner organizations and to raise funds, thus investing in local clean water initiatives and programs… for the Greener Good.
Pick More Than One! - The 10 GreenGive partners are encouraging their supporters to donate to more than one partner organization during GreenGive.
“It’s about a rising tide raising all boats,” said Elvia Thompson, President of Annapolis Green, one of the partner organizations. “Each organization works on local environmental issues with different programs. We want the public to see what we all bring to efforts to make our waterways swimable and fishable.”
Every dollar raised through the GreenGive will be used by the partners for projects and programs that really do make a difference right here in Anne Arundel County. In a time when federal support and leadership is uncertain at best, the work of grass roots organizations is vital.
The 10 GreenGive partner organizations are:
Annapolis Green, Arundel Rivers Federation, ClearShark H2O
Scenic Rivers Land Trust, Severn River Association, Severn Riverkeeper
Spa Creek Conservancy, St. Luke's Restoration of Nature, Unity Gardens
Watershed Stewards Academy
More information about the GreenGive is available at greengive.org.
Elvia Thompson of Annapolis Green could not see her feet any deeper than 19.5 inches in College Creek at St. John's College's living shoreline.