Meet UA’s new Program Director

Erica Baugh Bio Collage

“When observing my love of the environment and my passion for education, one can see that Upstream Alliance is a perfect fit. I feel empowered now that I can utilize all of my strengths and put them to work for something I am deeply passionate about while being the new Program Director. I cannot wait to immerse myself in our programs this fall and dive into our environmental networks. Our Regional Networks are an important way for professionals to connect, share and learn from one another. I can’t wait to get in a kayak myself, meet some distinguished leaders and recruit some emerging leaders. Our Expedition Conferences are a great way to help build educators professionally. I am thrilled to work with educators throughout the nation to bolster environmental opportunities for students and citizens.  The Superintendent’s Collaborative is being launched at a pivotal moment in time and I am honored to be able to help school systems understand the opportunities for environmental education. I feel privileged to be able to support these efforts of connecting people through networks and connecting people to nature. Working for Upstream Alliance has been a dream come true.” ~Erica Baugh

Erica Baugh’s Biography: Erica is passionate about education and the outdoors. She graduated from Virginia Tech in Natural Resources and filled her days in Blacksburg with hiking, camping, backpacking, biking, canoeing, and kayaking. Education and outreach has been her specialty, working with a variety of organizations including National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, USDA Forest Service, National Park Service, North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve, Dewees Island POA, Oyster Recovery Partnership, and the Newfound Harbor Marine Institute. One summer she lived on a sailboat and taught youth sailing on the Eastern Shore of MD. Most recently, Erica worked at a charter school in Key West teaching marine science. Now, as Upstream Alliance’s Program Director she lives and works from Manteo, NC. On the weekends you can catch her crabbing, paddle boarding, fishing, biking, kayaking, or running.

Environmental Education Report Released

NFWF Report Post 3

Newly Released:  Environmental Education and Community Stewardship Report

This report is a synthesis of the foremost thinking on how environmental education can lead to conservation objectives through community stewardship.  It compiles the best available research and was guided by interviews of leading experts. Designed to advise the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation on their conservation education grant making, yet written as a comprehensive piece, the report can be useful across the field; it can guide environmental education investors, help practitioners improve their program design, and give evidence to program directors that what they are doing will lead to change at a landscape scale. While the research connecting environmental education to conservation outcomes is still emerging, the most important lesson outlined here is to be intentional in program design so that programs are based on the leading research, evidence, and practices. This report provides that much needed synthesis and analysis in one document.

— Genevieve Leet, primary author and project director at Environmental Leadership Strategies

Here is what people are saying about this report:

“This paper combines the research and practice of environmental education in one of the most significant comprehensive analysis written.  I recommend this as a valuable resource for anyone interested in the field.” — Louisa Koch, Director of Education, NOAA

“This report brings together a much needed perspective from researchers to leading experts on why and how environmental education should be a cornerstone of environmental restoration. It’s a valuable resource for anyone that invests in connecting people and nature.”  — Angie Chen, Director, Blue Sky Funders Forum



Board Member completes NYC Circumnavigation


One of Upstream Alliance’s very own Board Members accomplished a daunting task last week: Circumnavigating New York City. Walter Brown completed the 30 mile paddling expedition in his kayak alongside over 100 paddlers. Here are some notes from his journey:

And, they’re off…

“Could not have had better weather – low 70″s with no sun and no thunderstorms or rain. It would have been brutal if it had been sunny and in the 90’s. They said about 160 signed up for it but only a little over 115 showed up. My group was the largest with about 54 kayakers. We started at 0730 about 1.5 north of the George Washington Bridge and got back about 1800 with two short stops and a 1 hour lunch break.”


A lengthy feat…

“It got a little bumpy here with the various rivers meeting and the tide changing but nothing like our experience coming out of the C&D canal. When coming around the tip of Manhattan, the USCG was there to help and we had to wait for Staten Island ferry. Total trip was little over 30 miles- with the current and at some point we were doing over 8 MPH. But, the trip was well organized with everyone having VHF radios and with such a large group it helped.”


After all that paddling…

“Worst part was at the takeout at the end, as first of all difficult to find parking – I parked at garage for $30. But, was 4 blocks from takeout. We could take kayaks off from the car in the morning at the put in but not at end of the day and had to drag them 4 or so blocks to the garage. This probably was the most tiring part of the day.” 

Incredible journey for an incredible group of paddlers! Seas the day!

Paddler’s Poems

Poem Post 7.14.16

Inspired through their new network of friends and colleagues, paddlers from Upstream Alliance’s June Paddling Expedition wrote poems about their memorable journey. Thank you these incredible poets for allowing us to share their exquisite works of art.

Red Boat

Red Boat

Rode hard and put away wet

Now dry in the shed

Great memories that will not fade

Like the grains of sand I can’t get out of my tent

~Peyton Robertson~

Being Out There

It was on the rising tide of friendship – eyes

glad to see you, earnest smiles,

and hardy hugs – that lifted all hearts

and kayaks parting the great green

sea of the Chesapeake,

Virginia’s Eastern Shore

to starboard.


It was those three days on and off

the water – progging uninhabited beaches

for history’s remains, campfire

dinners of rockfish with asparagus,

and sunsets aflame – that

tucked us in at night

under a blanket of stars.


It was just being out there – just you

and one-paddle-stroke

after-the-other, senses flushed clean

in the sea salt air, and wounds

healed that never asked

for fixing – out,

where time held eternity.

~John Hutchinson~

So much depends

upon the shore

red kayaks glazed with dew,

beyond a white egret

struts the hunt.


The dogfish shark circles

inside the pound net.

Blue crabs cling to mesh

below the strangled gull.


Siblings kneel in sand

before the red cooler,

cracking dewy oysters,

the wise shark teaches how.


Hunting for circling gulls

finds a blood riot below.

Behold the kayaking egret flock

grows seaside wild together.

~Genevieve Leet~

Murderkill River by Laura Murray

Horseshoe Crab

As seen on Laura Murray’s blog…

After weeks of inclement weather, I was especially happy to receive an invitation from my friends at Upstream Alliance to paddle Delaware waters. Weather was predicted to be in the mid-70’s and sunny, at least for a day or two. We set off on a creek paddle that would take us out to Delaware Bay just at the peak spawning of the horseshoe crab. We launched our kayaks in Federicka, DE on the upper Murderkill River. According to Wikipedia, the name is derived from Dutch, moeder meaning mother and kille meaning river, or Mother River, and not from someone’s demise there.


Murderkill River

As we began our journey downstream, extensive marshes of mostly Phragmites dominated the shoreline. Not too far along the way, these Phargmites marshes gave way to a mixed mid-salinity plant community, mainly consisting of big cordgrass, Spartina cynosuriodes.   As we began “riding the tide” down the river, I noticed numerous floating Spartina plant parts in the water that looked suspiciously as if they had been cropped by animal grazing. Could the culprit be the destructive, non-native rodent, the Nutria?  I was not aware that these creatures had made it as far north as Delaware.


Grazed marsh grass

All too soon we reached the mouth of Murderkill River at the small fishing village of Bower’s Beach. Here we beached our kayaks and watched hundreds of birds feeding on horseshoe crab eggs. Although seemingly preoccupied with their meal, they readily took flight with passing boats. These birds, including ruddy turnstones and the endangered red knots, depend on the crab eggs during their lengthy migration from their winter grounds in South America and southern United States to their breeding grounds near the Artic Circle. We spoke to a biologist who was studying these migrating birds. She told us the birds will gain two or more times their weight during this 2-3 week feeding frenzy.


Birds in flight

That night on the full moon and the first warm days of spring, the Delaware Bay waters warmed enough (nighttime temperature must be at least 590 F) for the horseshoe crabs to come ashore and spawn en mass.


Horseshoe crab

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of crabs descended on South Bower’s beach where we were camping for the night.  The mating-spawning ritual involves the larger females leading “locked on” smaller males as they make their way up the beach from the water. Eggs are released around the high tide mark. The next morning, the birds swoop in to gobble up some of the eggs. The dependence of the birds on this food source ensures their survival. Their numbers depend on the availability of the horseshoe crab eggs, so when the crab populations decline, so do the bird populations.


Crab spawn

As the morning dawned, I was pleasantly satisfied that I had checked off one more item on my “bucket list”. Seeing this ancient ritual of the horseshoe crab was magical.

By Laura Murray

Together we have Strength by Ann Swanson



Dear Don, old Chesapeake friends and new Delaware friends:

While I have had a chance to tell friends, colleagues and family of the magic of the trip since my return, I have not yet had a chance to thank all of you.  So thank you.  I love that the Upstream Alliance has set up a site to share images.  I know that I will download some to keep a lasting record of our adventure.  I learned so much on this trip about a system I was long overdue to learn about.  It’s hard to even know who to thank for my new found perspective, as it was the collective sharing that helped me learn so much.   Everyone taught me and hopefully I taught them.  I thank you one and all.

For some of you, I will be following up with draft legislation and ideas that are actionable.  For others, ideas for funding, nature center design or educational programming will come.  I hope that our paths cross at least periodically, if not often, as we weave together a merger of the two  worlds.  I feel a wealth of new found friends and I have the Upstream Alliance to thank for that.  Our missions of environmental protection, education and science are hard roads to hoe.  I feel certain we are stronger together. 

We started our journey with a mission to save an osprey.  Ensnared in monofilament fishing line, we helped her to fly again, under the watchful (and somewhat frightening) eye of her mate.  As she soared we felt her relief.  Downstream, we saw the land from the vantage of the river, when most of us had only seen the view in reverse – it gives you a depth of perspective. 

We have accomplishment under our belt and more to come…

By Ann Swanson

Click here for more pictures from the Delaware Expedition.

Del-Paddle-April-2016-062 Del-Paddle-April-2016-067


Expedition to Connect Chesapeake and Delaware Restoration Lessons


Leaders from the Chesapeake Bay and the Delaware River restoration efforts will converge on a three day kayak trip to witness a river that is a national success story having gone from an industrial wasteland to now on the rebound and much closer to swimmable and fishable. While activating networks and cross pollinating ideas, the group will paddle 39 miles of the Delaware River’s main stem and tributaries in a back to basics camping expedition. 

On Friday, the trip begins with a 4.5 creek paddle from the Tulpehaking Nature Center through one of the largest marsh expanses on the Delaware River. The group will continue another 12.5 miles to camp on the river’s edge at the historic Red Dragon Canoe Club (circa 1883), one of the nation’s oldest boating clubs.

On Saturday, paddlers set out down river for 17 miles into the heart of Philadelphia witnessing the years of aging commercial commerce on the river giving way to a very active port. The group disembarks at the Independence Seaport Museum, to dine and spend the night on the USS Olympia, a historic warship from the 1898 Spanish American War. 

On Sunday, the group finishes with a 5 mile paddle taking out on the Cooper River where the remarkable leaders will pack up and plan their next expedition.

Upstream Alliance would like to thank John Brady, from the Independence Seaport Museum, and Tom Horton, Salisbury University, who will be co-hosting this expedition with Upstream Alliance. 

For more details and photos of the trip, visit our Delaware River Expedition on the events page.

UA to Brief America’s Superintendents

Upstream Alliance to Co-Host ESSA Briefing
at AASA, “The School Superintendents Association’s” Annual Conference
February 12, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona

Upstream Alliance’s Don Baugh, Prince George’s County (Maryland) Public Schools CEO, Dr. Kevin Maxwell, and the North American Association for Environmental Education and Project Learning Tree are co-hosting a significant first for environmental education–a session at the annual conference of AASA on the recently passed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This is a very timely and mighty opportunity to brief local school system superintendents on the historic environmental education funding in ESSA. There are 13,588 school districts in America and AASA is the sole organization that represents those superintendents. A rising tide floats all boats and we encourage all environmental education groups to reach out to their local superintendents to attend this session. Participants will learn the particulars in ESSA and get a sneak peek into the process going forward to apply for funding for partnerships between school systems and environmental education providers. They will also preview Dr. Maxwell’s model partnerships which are in place in P.G. County. If you are interested in inviting your local superintendent contact Upstream Alliance or send them this invitation: AASA Invitation.Environmental Education.PGCPS. A grand opportunity!

Baltimore Sun Publishes Don Baugh’s Op-Ed Piece

The Baltimore Sun electronically published Don Baugh’s op-ed piece on January 9th and will print the story on Monday, January 11th in the newspaper. Read an excerpt below:

“The Baltimore middle schooler had studied the Chesapeake Bay in her classroom for three weeks. Now she stood at the end of a dock overlooking a tiny tributary of the great estuary: “Huh, I thought the bay would be bigger.”

Clearly, studying nature indoors has its limits. Kids need to get outside more, and now they will.

Thanks to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the overhaul of No Child Left Behind, millions more students will be rolling up their sleeves and getting their sneakers wet, to become healthier, more successful in school and more engaged with science.” Read more...

Bay Journal Article Highlights Don Baugh

Don Baugh, president of Upstream Alliance, was highlighted this week in the Bay Journal’s article “Congress Passes School Bill That Includes Environmental Education.” The article highlights Baugh’s work to establish the No Child Left Inside Coalition which led to the environmental changes brought forth in the Every Students Succeeds Act. This new bill passed by Congress includes language for environmental education and will allow these programs to compete for federal funding. Read more…