The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays presented the 2013 Friends of the Bays awards at their annual Thanks-for Giving event Sept. 28 at the James Farm Ecological Preserve.
Ron Kernehan was presented with the Friend of the Bays Volunteer Award for his work developing and leading the Inland Bays Inshore Fish Survey. He and his team of citizen scientist volunteers have counted and recorded data on 126,277 fish since beginning the surveys in 2011. 57 fish species have been identified by 114 volunteers who have logged over a thousand hours pulling seines and recording data that is adding to the knowledge of marine life in the Bays.
Kernehan said on receiving the award that they have also had a lot of fun. One of his team members, Paula Schneider said, “I didn’t even think that I liked fish, but it is such a blast working with Ron.” CIB Executive Director, Chris Bason said, “Ron has gotten people interested in fish like birdwatchers are interested in birds. They just excited to get out there and see what comes in in the net.”
The Banks of Banks Wine and Spirits in Millville approached the center several years ago with the idea to partner on a fundraiser to raise money for the Inland Bays and the result was the very successful Bays, Bubbly and Brushstrokes, a unique event that celebrated the start of summer on the Inland Bays.
Since then the Banks’ have helped the Center in a variety of ways; donating to and sponsoring events like the Thanks-for-Giving Barbecue and Decked Out, and serving on a committee to plan fundraising and friend-raising events for the Bays. For their on-going support, they were awarded the 2013 Friend of the Bays Business Award.
The Town of South Bethany was honored with the 2013 Friend of the Bays Partner Award for their long and productive partnership with the CIB in support of cleaner Inland Bays. A series of proactiive mayors, council people, and resident volunteers have grown the town into a true leader for clean water.
South Bethany worked with the CIB to plan and implement an innovative stormwater retrofit project, initiated community outreach and education to improve water quality in their canals, and has many volunteers who monitor water quality in the canals and the bay.
The 2013 Friend of the Bays Director’s Award was given to the members of the 147th General Assembly of the Delaware State Legislature for their passage of House Bill 160 in June, which will allow for shellfish aquaculture in the Inland Bays.
On presenting the award to Speaker of the House Pete Schwarzkopf, the primary sponsor of the bill, Bason said, “Shellfish aquaculture has the potential to be a new multi-million dollar industry in Sussex County and will significantly improve the water quality and habitat of the Bays. We are fortunate to have state legislators who understand that healthy bays support a healthy economy.”
In addition to the Friend of the Bays Awards, special recognition was given to volunteers who have worked with the CIB at the James Farm Ecological Preserve on Cedar Neck Road in Ocean View. Owned by Sussex County and managed by the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, the Farm is a 150-acre oasis of fields, forests, marsh and sandy beach on Indian River Bay with trails and observation platforms.
Two volunteers, Greg Thompson and Carly Collins were honored for their contributions. Thompson for his work in helping to keep the James Farm looking its best and assisting on building and repairs to boardwalks and platforms where know-how and carpentry skills are needed.
Collins was recognized for ‘growing up’ with the CIB, volunteering at the Native Plant Sale and other events, and starting a Nature Club for teens at the Bethany Beach Nature Center which maintains a bluebird trail at James Farm, assists with trail cleanup, and conducts monthly water testing at their wetland at the Nature Center.
The Center for the Inland Bays is a non-profit organization working in four areas of mission; science and research, habitat protection and restoration, public policy, and education and outreach - to protect and restore the Delaware Inland Bays and their watershed. For more information go to www.inlandbays.org.