In the fall of 2022, Pickering Creek Audubon Center, a 450-acre nature center in Talbot County, received a grant from the Rural Maryland Council to support creation of new messaging and new artwork for nine interpretive panels. People visit places like Pickering Creek Audubon Center to learn, explore, find adventure, relax and exercise. Interpretive panels located on Pickering Creek’s extensive trail system help give meaning to the visitor’s experience by telling the story of the land: past, present and future. Interpretive panels help draw connections between habitats, plants, wildlife and people.
New panels highlight the key habitats along the 2.5-mile Farm to Bay Trail, which includes forest, wetland, meadow, agriculture and brackish water creek. The panels tell the story of key habitat features, flora and fauna through both concise written messages and compelling visuals. These panels help the visitor understand the interconnected nature of land and water on Delmarva.
The Farm to Bay Trail winds its way through cool season grass meadows, warm season grass meadows, brackish wetlands, freshwater wetlands, pine forest, emergent hardwood forest, mature hardwood forest and gives up close views of a working farm. While exploring the habitats, about half of the trail borders agriculture fields while the other half borders brackish Pickering Creek. The trail affords a rare opportunity to experience most of the rural, coastal plain’s habitats in one place coexisting with agriculture successfully. Interpretive panels along the Farm to Bay Trail tell the story of Delmarva’s key ecosystems and species.
The panels replace aging panels that have been weathered by the sun and rain. None of the existing panels were replicated, so each of the nine panels shares a brand-new story about the center, its wildlife and habitats. In addition to replacing existing panels, the new panels fill in spots along the trails that have not been previously highlighted.
Over the course of the past year, center staff researched, designed, contracted fabrication and installed nine interpretive panels. At the center’s entrance parking area, one will now be greeted by a timeline history of the center that explains its donation and evolution over time. New panels along the Farm to Bay Trail highlight songbirds in the woods, no till agriculture, the importance of forested buffers between land and water, fungi of the woods, and birds seen on the creek. New panels along the Wetland and Meadow Trails highlight which amphibians one is likely to see and hear, the importance of milkweed in meadow communities, and bluebird boxes and their benefits.
“Pickering Creek is unique as a nature center in that we are also agricultural landowners. As the Olds Family who donated the center’s core property wished, we continued to highlight agriculture as part of the landscape on Delmarva while also sharing how conservation practices coexist with great habitat for wildlife,” said Pickering Creek Director Mark Scallion.
Pickering Creek is open to the public daily during daylight hours. It is located at 11450 Audubon Lane in Easton. Visit https://pickeringcreek.org for hours as evening daylight gets shorter this fall. There are several viewing platforms and blinds along the way for one to enjoy scenery and wildlife. Benches for resting are spread throughout the trails. The new panels join seven existing panels that have been installed in the last five years in both wetland and meadow habitats. Together they share the story of outdoor habitats and ecosystems and the creatures we share them with on Delmarva.