Conowingo Dam Coverage

Since my first day at the Chesapeake Bay Program, I feel like I’m constantly learning and catching up. First, it was learning the slew of acronyms that quickly started to look like alphabet soup in my brain - TMDL, SAV, GIT.  Then, I remembered something I once read, about how feeling dumb can be the best thing for you. If we allow ourselves to feel dumb, accept that there is something we do not know, then we are able to confidently ask questions, make observations, and enjoy the process of learning without the fear of being judged. So, I began asking a lot of questions.

“So, when we say SAV we are really talking about underwater/bay grasses, but we say SAV?”

“What exactly is a watershed?”

“So, if we are advocating for something the waterman/farmers/residents don’t necessarily want or can afford, how do we help them without being pushy or degrading?”

Once I began asking questions, I began learning.  If you know me, you know that means I usually start telling people the amazing new things I learned. I would grin and tell my friends all about the bay grasses we saw during an aerial flight or why it was so interesting to see a nutria in Great Falls park.  I began to find the intersection of my photography skills and love for environment that I had been searching for when I sought this position.

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

On August 14, I woke up in my friend’s apartment on Q St. NW. After spending the previous evening with the Women Photojournalists of Washington, I woke up feeling ready for the day.  Upon turning onto New York Ave. from Florida Ave., I decided to take a detour to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. The lotuses and lilies were exiting full bloom so I figured that I might as well get some images for the Bay Program to have on file and check another National Park site off my list. 

Located along some of the few remaining original wetlands on the Anacostia River, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens was created by Civil War veteran Walter Shaw, who used paths to separate the ponds from the tidal marsh. Shaw’s daughter, Helen, later fought against the destruction of the gardens during a land seizure attempt for the dredging project in the Anacostia River.  And, after successfully lobbying congress, the gardens became part of Anacostia Park. Kenilworth features lotuses and 20 varieties of lilies—including the original variety transported by Shaw from Maine. 

Today was one the days that all I could think was “I love my job” and “I love D.C.” And, while I am fully aware that is incredibly cheesy, I stand by it. I’ve become unafraid of admitting my love for something- the natural world, my friends, a particularly artistic dinner. So, I’ll say it as often as I can; I love where I am and what I do.  I love that I have been given the opportunity to tell stories with photographs and video. And while sometimes I wonder if anyone reads this blog, besides my brother (who is undeniably my biggest fan, thanks Kyle), I love having an outlet for my everyday work and the thoughts in my head. So thank you to whoever is out there reading (or not reading) this. 

Assateague National Seashore

Every day there is something that reminds me of working with horses; riding them, teaching little girls to ride, watching them romp in the paddock. I miss them every day and often think about how I can return to horsemanship. 

I’ve been what some call a ‘horse girl’ my whole life.  While I wasn’t able to take lessons or compete as a child, my parents would bring me to take trail rides or just go look at horses whenever possible. At fifteen, I found the calling of my teenage life- teaching horseback riding to youth at the residential camp where I was a counselor-in-training. I spent the next five summers teaching horseback riding to children, my favorite group being the girls who had never rode a horse. I loved watching their faces light up as they were nuzzled by the soft noses of these huge animals. I loved watching them make their first turn, and the ensuing smile that would split their faces. 

It’s been three summers since I’ve been to camp, three years without much horse interaction, except when I was able to morph a photo assignment into covering horseback riding or a horse rescue. Everyday I miss the excitement, hard work, the feeling when you hug a horse around the neck and they sigh heavily. 

That is why this past weekend fulfilled so many of my lifelong dreams.  Seeing the wild horses of Assateague has been a goal of mine since I learned of their existence. When I saw I actually teared up at the sight of them, slowly walking down the beach with their bellies bloated from eating the salty marsh grasses, not a shred of me is over exaggerating. 

 I can’t put into words how inexplicably happy it made me to see them, or how happy I am every time I remember that the experience was real. 

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