By Dan Filer, Chesapeake Watershed CESU Research Coordinator
We have had another very successful year in the Chesapeake Watershed CESU Research Network thanks to all of you! The final numbers are still coming in, but we expect to surpass the number of projects and modifications executed in FY 2021 as well as total dollars awarded through our network. We will feature the final FY 2021 statistics in the Spring newsletter. This growth is a result of our continued efforts to expand the network through outreach, assistance, and collaboration; we are proud to announce, for example, that NOAA executed their first CESU agreement in our network this past year! I look forward to working with the team at our host institution, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science – Appalachian Laboratory, and to continue to expand our efforts and grow the network!
We also had a change in leadership this past year; Dr. Eric Davidson, host director of our CESU network since 2015, decided to step down and serve in a Jefferson Science Fellowship with the U.S. State Department. I want to personally thank Dr. Davidson for his leadership and vision, and I credit many of our successful programs (including this newsletter) to his leadership. I’m very excited to work with Dr. Matt Fitzpatrick, Associate Director for Research at the Appalachian Laboratory, who has agreed to serve as our host director through 2023! You will have the opportunity to learn more about Dr. Fitzpatrick later in this newsletter.
We also completed the 2021-2026 renewal of our network over the past few months. The feedback from our partners was mostly positive, but we plan to address the concerns also identified by our federal and nonfederal partners over the next few years. We are excited to announce that all of our federal partners and non-federal partners (except Garrett College) have agreed to renew and continue in our network! I want to thank Dr. Tom Fish, coordinator of the national CESU program, for his work and support during this renewal. We look forward to working with him again in 2026. You can find a link to the final report based upon the partner self-assessment, along with the federal managers report including feedback from the federal council,in the Network Updates section of this newsletter.
We just completed our Annual and Federal Partner Meetings in October via ZOOM where we discussed updates to the network, potential efforts in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in our FY 2022 projects, and executing a strategic plan this coming year for our network. Thank you to those who were able to attend; if you were unable to attend these sessions, we have included the recording in the following section of this newsletter. We are in the process of scheduling our next Federal Partners meeting for late March/early April, and the Annual Meeting will take place on Friday, June 24, both at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV, and on ZOOM. We are looking forward (and hoping) we will be able to physically meet in 2022.
Finally, we are asking all of our researchers in the Experts Database to update their profiles in the next few weeks. Our federal partners requested that we build this database and to keep the information fresh so they can easily identify researchers within certain disciplines and, more importantly, easily contact them. Researchers have already received an email with directions to update your profile. We also ask that everyone complete the following brief survey regarding the database so we can gather some information about how to better manage the resource going forward: CHWA CESU Experts Database Survey.