Two powerful voices in the environmental movement received acclaim in May.
On May 7, W. R. “Nick” Carter, III became the second recipient of the ShoreRivers Award for Environmental Stewardship during the organization’s State of the Rivers presentation. The award recognizes an individual or entity in the Chesapeake Bay watershed for their transformational accomplishments as a steward of the environment.
On May 11, Jeff Horstman, a Wye River resident and former executive director of ShoreRivers, was named an Ambassador of the Chesapeake Bay by Governor Hogan. Maryland Secretary of Natural Resources Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio and Maryland Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles presented the award.
Ann Swanson, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Commission for the last 33 years, was tapped to speak on both occasions. Swanson was the first recipient of the ShoreRivers Award for Environmental Stewardship and considers it “one of the greatest recognitions of my life.” She went on to say that it was a special honor for her to present the award to her friend Nick and to sing his praises. “Nick is brilliant. He is a synthesizer—a complex thinker. His friends and colleagues liken him to E.O. Wilson; some even refer to him as the David Attenborough of the Chesapeake.”
After 35 years of service to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Carter retired in 2000, but it can hardly be said his work came to an end. From his beloved “natural wonderland” on the Choptank River or his peerless jon boat, Swanson says, “Nick can take disparate pieces of information—biology, ecology, hydrology, sociology, history, and even politics—and weave them together into an understanding that becomes new knowledge, not just regurgitated facts.” In his distinctive Norfolk, Virginia drawl, “Nick can talk to anyone—including any age, education level, or political persuasion. He believes that everyone has an entry point [to environmentalism], you just need to find it.”
Jeff Horstman’s entry point to Eastern Shore conservation work at a professional level appeared nearly a decade ago when Tim Junkin invited him to join the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy’s board. Horstman went on to serve as the organization’s Miles-Wye Riverkeeper, deputy director, and eventually succeeded Junkin as executive director. His vision expanded beyond the Wye River he had cherished since youth. Swanson remembers first working with Horstman around 2014 and seeing how well he “understood that each river of the Eastern Shore had its own cultural and ecological identity that should never be erased or ignored.”
When ShoreRivers was formed in 2017 by merging Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, Chester River Association, and Sassafras River Association, it was Horstman’s leadership as executive director that established the organization as a strong, united voice for the region’s rivers. “He simply was the right person at the right time,” Swanson reiterates. “He had the right disposition; he never commanded, he just listened. And his deep connection to place—both the people and the resource—was apparent.”
In a surprise ceremony via Zoom, Horstman was presented the title Ambassador of the Chesapeake by Secretaries Haddaway-Riccio and Grumbles on behalf of Governor Larry Hogan and the State of Maryland. His award recognized “leadership within many environmental organizations including ShoreRivers, mentorship of the next generation of stewards, and inspiration to others to further the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.”
ShoreRivers is extremely grateful for the leadership and vision of these two local champions. To watch the presentation of Carter’s award and to learn more about the mission of ShoreRivers, visit www.shorerivers.org/2021-sotr-qa.