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Bay Day set May 19 in Ocean Pines

The Maryland Coastal Bays Program’s Bay Day, an effort dedicated to educating the community and improving the waterways of Ocean Pines, is set to commence at 10 a.m., May 19, at White Horse Park.

Bay Day pic

Attendees to a previous year’s Bay Day get an upclose look at one of the animals on exhibit. Submitted Photo

By Tara Fischer, Staff Writer 

The Maryland Coastal Bays Program is back for the fifth annual Bay Day, an effort dedicated to educating the community and improving the waterways of Ocean Pines, at White Horse Park on Sunday, May 19. The event is free and kicks off at 10 a.m.

According to Maryland Coastal Bays Program Educational Coordinator Liz Wist, Bay Day is a collaborative endeavor between MCBP and the Ocean Pines Association. The event is for “community members to learn…and interact with the amazing organizations working to protect our Coastal Bays watershed.” 

The initiative was conceived five years ago as an educational event concentrated on environmental efforts to enhance the St. Martin River, which forms the northern boundary of Ocean Pines. 

Attendees will be welcomed with boat tours, food trucks, music, and live animal exhibits. Community members can partake in informational hands-on activities focused on imparting environmental knowledge and tips and tricks they can consciously implement in daily life. Wist said there will be experiences for all ages, and the goal is to create a space for learning, engagement, and interaction. 

There will also be community science opportunities and information on how residents can participate in partnering organizations and their missions. Wist hopes Bay Day will teach individuals to “become stewards of the local environment.” 

Over 30 conservation partners will be present on May 19, including the Phillips Wharf Fish Mobile, Ocean Pines Anglers, UMES 4-H STEM, Chincoteague Bay Field Station, Assateague Coastal Trust, and Protectors of the St. Martin River. 

“Our conservation partners are the highlight of this day,” Wist said. “Our missions all intersect in some way, but we all have unique goals and values that make each exhibitor table different and equally engaging. All our exhibitors are tasked with creating a hands-on activity to captivate attendees and inspire learning.”

According to the Ocean Pines website, Bay Day will feature a recycling station where residents can drop off alkaline batteries, old phones, and more. Go Green OC will also collect compost.

Wist said planning for the event begins eight months before the festival each year. Since May is a busy month, save the dates are sent to partners and vendors as early as possible. Material ordering, new activity arrangements, and meetings kick off in the months leading up to the designated day. 

“Each year, we learn to work to improve, adjust, and add in new elements, which is all due to feedback that we gain from our community at or following the event,” Wist said. 

MCBP, which “works to enhance the ecological resiliency of the Coastal Bays, the watersheds, and their communities through conservation and public engagement,” has two ongoing Ocean Pines projects. 

The Jenkins Point Restoration for Resilience initiative is gearing up to develop and implement an approved design to restore a fragmented peninsula on the western shore of the Isle of Wight Bay. Wist said the goal is to improve climate resiliency for residential and recreational infrastructure in the community. Project leaders hope the work will also enhance the habitat for shore wildlife. 

MCBP is also focused on revamping the South Gate Pond shoreline. To create “natural-based resiliency, enhanced shoreline, nearshore and buffer habitat, and stormwater management to improve water quality,” Wist said that 4,6000 linear feet of pond shoreline will be restored. 

Bay Day will welcome residents from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a day of environmental education on May 19. 

“This festival is free to attend and is truly for everyone,” Wist maintained. “There is something for every age and interest.” 

This story appears in the May 9, 2024, print edition of the Bayside Gazette.