At the Taste, the Alliance, its partners and supporters recognize progress in Chesapeake restoration efforts and celebrate outstanding environmental leaders from across the watershed.

Our top honor, the Frances H. Flanigan Environmental Leadership Award, was established in 2001 in recognition of Flanigan’s 23-year career of leadership and partnership-building as the Alliance’s executive director. It commends an individual whose longstanding commitment to the Bay’s restoration and protection reflects the Alliance mission of fostering diverse partnerships and inspiring environmental stewardship.

The 2018 Environmental Leadership Award honors Nick DiPasquale.

Nick served as director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program from 2011 until his retirement in December 2017. He has a vivid memory of what inspired his passion for the environment and remembers exactly where he was the first time he read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. The threat of a spring where no songbirds would sing spurred him to personal action.

Nick’s career started when he enlisted in the Navy where he helped to pilot nuclear submarines for six years. There, he began to realize what nuclear energy actually meant to the environment, and upon leaving the Navy, became director of Missouri’s Solid Waste Programs.

He next took the post of Delaware’s director of Air and Waste Management, before being named secretary of the state’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. It was here, he said, that he “started to appreciate the totality of the environment, not just one piece of it.”

Nick’s enthusiasm and forward thinking continued during his term at the Chesapeake Bay Program. He said his proudest achievement is the 2014 Watershed Agreement, the first Chesapeake Bay agreement to contain measurable goals and outcomes. He said that he believes the indicators are, for the most part, heading in the right direction toward improvement.

Nick’s passion to help ecosystems and habitat during his 30-plus-year career persists in his retirement. He is on the advisory board of ShoreRivers and Chesapeake Legal Alliance, and shares his wisdom during lectures at universities around the watershed. Nick emphasizes that ecosystems respond over a period of years, even decades, and not minutes or months. He believes in a proactive, rather than reactive, approach, which has led to a collective hope of restoring the Bay by 2025.

Nick is as resilient as the ecosystem he so enjoys and won’t stop fighting on the Chesapeake’s behalf.

We also honor three Watershed Champions for their outstanding contributions of innovative thinking, initiative and the development of impactful partnerships to advance stewardship throughout the Chesapeake region.

≈ Beau Breeden’s volunteer work on behalf of his community and the Magothy River make him a true Watershed Champion! He works full-time — as a volunteer — on behalf of the Magothy River. The son of a Navy commander, Beau’s love of the water started early in his childhood. His family moved six times by the time he was 9. Once his family landed in Cape St. Claire permanently, he began his lifetime work to improve his forever home for generations to come. Beau was one of the youngest presidents elected to the Board of Governors for Cape St. Claire in 2014, and many of the 8,000-resident community jokingly refer to him as “The Mayor.”

Inspired by the peacefulness of the water, the plentiful community beaches and local crabs, Beau’s devoted thousands of hours to volunteering in the last six years, including helping with the Alliance’s Project Clean Stream cleanups. He coordinated with the Alliance in the implementation of a $100,000 grant from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Governors Green Challenge Grant to restore Lake Claire. His participation goes beyond the grants: community volunteer events to clear invasive species; the securing of open burn permits to fight invasive phragmites; and multiple native tree and shrub plantings in the community’s stream valleys.

Always seeking the next opportunity to help, Beau is looking at public-private partnerships to help fund seven restoration projects totaling nearly $6 million in Cape St. Claire, where the goals are to save, restore and improve community property that impacts the Magothy.

≈ Scotty Guinn Dilworth’s expertise in creating and maintaining resilient and sustainable native plantscapes, rain gardens, pollinator gardens, meadows, and green roofs makes her a worthy recipient of the 2018 Watershed Champion Award. Scotty is a certified Chesapeake Bay landscape professional, Virginia Certified Horticulturist, certified rain garden installer and certified green roof installer. She also works with the Richmond nonprofit Tricycle designing pollinator gardens and urban farm sites. Over the years has worked with hundreds of volunteers to create and maintain multiple sites for Tricycle and their partner organizations.

In 2016–17, Scotty designed and installed green infrastructure practices at Binford Middle School, Boushall Middle School and the Neighborhood Resource Council as a part of the Alliance’s RiverWise Education Program. She was part of a team tasked with creating a Green School Initiative and now leads several of Binford Middle School’s green infrastructure installations, overseeing the project’s budget, designing conservation landscapes, hiring subcontractors and managing vendors — all with a big smile! She is a true believer that collaboration makes a difference in watershed communities. Scotty has been a true friend to the Alliance as a creative, enthusiastic partner, providing amazing ideas and insight to our work. She has worked tirelessly to produce beautiful designs and ensure that they are installed correctly, on time and within budget.

≈ Matt Kofroth’s knowledge and “can do” spirit are at the heart of his local watershed work, and the Watershed Champion Award recognizes his incredible impact on each downstream neighbor who has benefited from the many projects and programs he’s implemented. During his years of volunteering in watershed efforts prior to his work at the Lancaster County Conservation District, he steadily built a base of understanding about the improvements and best practices needed to help Lancaster County, PA, waterways. As the watershed specialist at the district for almost 20 years, Matt has coordinated volunteer monitoring programs, helped to organize local watershed associations, reviewed and written grants for restoration projects and created resources for county homeowners to improve their water use. His innovations in watershed education have empowered numerous volunteers to make a difference in their own watershed. Recognizing that one person can’t do it all, he guides and serves as a resource to enable others to excel and complete goals broadening the ripples in the stream, so to speak. Matt has contributed to the Alliance’s Pennsylvania work, including our READY program and Restoring the Octoraro Reservoir project, as well as serving as a guide for our state team in writing a watershed implementation plan. Matt has been involved in countless Alliance efforts and is a resident watershed expert for many groups in Lancaster County and beyond.

We invite you to join us at the 2018 Taste to celebrate these inspiring environmental leaders and to support the Alliance’s critical Chesapeake restoration work. For information, visit allianceforthebay.org.

The views expressed by columnists are not necessarily those of the Bay Journal.