There’s a new face advocating for Maryland’s mid-Eastern Shore rivers, and as a native of the region he’s well-qualified for the job.
ShoreRivers recently announced the appointment of Ben Ford as the new Miles-Wye Riverkeeper. Riverkeepers not only monitor the water quality of their designated river, but also advocate for environmentally-focused policies and educate their communities.
“I’m really excited to bring Ben into the fold at ShoreRivers. One thing that stands out is his experience growing up in Easton—he learned to sail on the Miles, he spent his life involved in the community there,” Matt Pluta, Choptank Riverkeeper and Director of Riverkeeper Programs at ShoreRivers, said.
“The mission of ShoreRivers inspires me, as does the chance to use my creative skills and network to help ShoreRivers fulfill its mission on a river that feels like home. The rivers of the Eastern Shore are so special to me—I want to help others see them the same way,” Ford said.
Ford previously worked for the Center for Environment and Society at Washington College, where he directed the interdisciplinary, immersive Chesapeake Semester for over a decade. Through this program, students travel the region to study both the cultural and ecological facets of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
“He has been studying the issues of the Chesapeake from all perspectives with his students for years; he knows the culture, the ecology, the politics really well,” Pluta said. “He brings such a passion for the way the water influences the community.”
According to Pluta, oyster restoration in the eastern Bay will be a priority issue for Ford, particularly gaining public support for such restoration projects. Additionally, Ford will be crucial in increasing participation in the River Friendly Yards program, which provides homeowners resources to make more eco-conscious changes in their landscaping.
The community will have the opportunity to meet Ford and learn more about his goals as Riverkeeper as ShoreRivers hosts their State of the Rivers presentation series in the coming months.
Free to the public, these events serve to inform locals on the water quality of their river and any issues the ecosystem may be facing. The Riverkeepers outline their goals for the coming season and provide resources for those that wish to get involved.
“The State of the River presentations are a time for us to examine the data we’ve collected with the public, and then turn that data into an action plan,” Pluta said. “We pride ourselves on our grassroots approach to community engagement, we want to show people what’s going on beneath the surface of their rivers and give them the chance to take action.”
On April 26, Pluta and Ford will present at Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, MD. On May 3, Ford will join Chester Riverkeeper Annie Richards at Cult Classic Brewing in Stevensville, MD.