Remembering Kincey Potter

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Along with most of the environmental community in Anne Arundel County, I am weeping at the loss of my dear friend Kincey Potter and simultaneously so thankful to have had her in my life.     

Kincey’s list of accomplishments and significant contributions to water quality in Anne Arundel County cannot be understated.  So many local organizations—South River Federation, Anne Arundel League of Conservation Voters, String of Pearls, Watershed Stewards Academy—have benefited from her tenacity, vision and leadership.  Kincey worked for years building political and popular support for a dedicated revenue stream for watershed restoration.  When the Watershed Protection and Restoration Fee was implemented in 2013, and later challenged in 2015, she worked hard to organize speakers for public hearings, sat down with elected officials to discuss details, and later, celebrated the accomplishments of this program.  You can read more here.

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Kincey’s passion and tireless activism for clean water have had an impact on all the residents of Anne Arundel County.  But I also want to share a bit about what Kincey meant to me personally.   If you are lucky, you have in your life a person who tells it like it is, pushes you beyond your comfort zone and is 100% positive that you reach your goals.  Kincey was that person in my life. 

When I first shared the idea of WSA with Kincey back in 2007,  I was so excited about this new model to engage communities and thought it was just the right compliment to the work of great watershed organizations like South River Federation.  Kincey’s response was, “Well that sounds like a great idea, but you will never get people to commit to becoming Master Watershed Stewards.”  Nevertheless, Kincey rolled up her sleeves and jumped right in.  She served on the very first committees that designed the WSA Course and developed the Consortium of Support Professionals.   Her experience with organizational development made her an instrumental part of the first WSA Advisory Board and it was her signature that graced the incorporation paperwork when WSA became a 501 c 3 organization in 2010.   By the time the first class of Master Watershed Stewards graduated in 2010, she was hooked.  Here we are 10 years later, with over 200 Master Watershed Stewards who have dedicated themselves to making their communities healthier and their streams cleaner.  It is certainly not an understatement to say that WSA would not be what it is today, if not for Kincey. 

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Starting a non-profit is hard work, and there were many bumps along the way.  Through it all, Kincey’s faith in WSA and her faith in me never waivered.    She was not deterred when a task seemed daunting, and never, ever gave up.   As the first WSA Board Development Chair, Kincey mentored our organization, and me in particular, through engaging individuals and corporations in the mission of WSA through financial support.  She led by example, she gave, and she invited others to give.  

Most of all, she admired the work of Watershed Stewards.  Kincey has always been an action-oriented leader, and firmly believed that less talk and more action, whether for in-ground projects or implementing strong environmental policies, is the winning formula.    I think this is why she resonated so strongly with WSA. 

This Sunday, WSA will celebrate our 10-Year Anniversary with a party at Mayo Beach Park.  I invite all who knew and loved Kincey to join us there for a special remembrance of this amazing woman.  Our Legacy of WSA commemoration will be held at 2 p.m. but please come before or stay later to enjoy an afternoon at one of Anne Arundel County’s most beautiful beaches.    Details and registration may be found at:  http://aawsa.org/10th-anniversary/ 

And in Kincey’s honor, please join with me in taking action today: pick up some dog poop, talk to someone about stormwater, pull some invasive plants, give to your favorite environmental organization.  Kincey knew that all actions, big and small, can make a difference.  Join me in celebrating the memory of this amazing leader, mentor, and friend by taking action today!

Suzanne

Steward Spotlight: Katie Matta

Katie Matta, Class 10

 Steward Candidate Thomas Marston (left) and Katie Matta (right) installed a rainbarrel on Marc Wirig’s home in Hillsmere.

Steward Candidate Thomas Marston (left) and Katie Matta (right) installed a rainbarrel on Marc Wirig’s home in Hillsmere.

Why did you become a Master Watershed Steward? 
I work for the Environmental Protection Agency, but most of my work is done on a computer. I was interested in doing hands-on environmental work that would benefit my community, especially the drainage creek in my backyard.

What was your capstone project?
It's Kitty Duvall Creek Buffer Planting Project. This little creek drains 142 acres of Hillsmere Shores community into Duvall Creek which opens to the South River. On October 13th the planting effort will take place - three conservation landscapes in three backyards and three buffer plantings on slopes and banks within 20 feet of the creek in three backyards. Two of the properties were identified as good candidates for rain cistern/barrels, which were installed September 13th with the help of a property owner and four other WSA volunteers.

How did you hear about WSA?
I moved back to Annapolis in November 2016 and did some internet searches on local environmental organizations.

Why is restoring the waterways important to you?
I grew up in Annapolis and learned about Chesapeake Bay issues at various environmental camps including one at Arlington Echo. When I was 16, I volunteered for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation at Meredith Creek, a place where I had gone marsh mucking and canoeing at summer camp. It's rewarding to come home and do work through WSA that is directly linked to Bay health.

 Katie Matta and Ann Brown planting natives at the Class 10 project.

Katie Matta and Ann Brown planting natives at the Class 10 project.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned during the certification course?
I was surprised with the number of restoration projects completed and in the pipeline by AA County and the South River Federation.

What was your favorite project you worked on after becoming a Master Watershed Steward?
I've never applied for a grant before and it's rewarding to gain the skills and confidence to do so. I applied for and received a South River Federation Stewardship grant for my capstone project.

What advice do you have for our Class 11 Steward Candidates?
If there are Stewards in your neighborhood, talk to them about your project ideas and get their input. If this is the first time you are getting involved in your community, get to know board members/officers/involved residents. They have experience and insight that may be useful as you finalize your project idea and seek community buy-in. Your classmates and other Stewards are a great resource - many have environmental or project experience beyond the WSA classroom and are willing and able to lend a hand. Don't be afraid to ask for help!

How do you plan to continue engaging the community in your environmental efforts?
I wrote an article for our community newsletter about rain barrels and I will continue to write short articles for our newsletter on various rainscaping topics. Several other Hillsmere Watershed Stewards have expressed a willingness to write articles as well. Maybe I will apply for another South River Federation grant if there is interest and financial support (you need matching funds) for another project. A longterm goal (dream?) is to make Kitty Duvall kayak/canoeable again. Through my project I found out that 30 years ago I could have put a kayak in my backyard and floated down to Duvall Creek. I would love to do that!

When you work full time and have young kids and move to a new area, it is not easy to meet other adults. My husband and I were able to attend the South River on the Half Shell and the GreenGive Kick-off Party this year and ran into Stewards and Hillsmere residents who I wouldn't have met if it wasn't for WSA. These friendships are just forming, but we are starting to feel more a part of our neighborhood and greater Annapolis community.

 Kevin Green, Thomas Marston, Monica Maynard, Katie Matta and Marc Wirig install a rain barrel in Hillsmere.

Kevin Green, Thomas Marston, Monica Maynard, Katie Matta and Marc Wirig install a rain barrel in Hillsmere.

Clean Water Communities Update: Pines on the Severn

Written by Cindy Hall and Noelle Chao, Class 10 Steward Candidates and Pines on the Severn residents, for their community newsletter.

Last fall, Pines on the Severn was selected by the Watershed Stewards Academy to participate in their Clean Water Communities Program.  In order to achieve this certification, we were asked to complete 5 benchmarks in 2018. Here’s how we’ve done:

1. Assessment of Community Property: COMPLETED!

The South River Federation and the Watershed Stewards Academy visited Pines in November 2017 and conducted a comprehensive assessment of community property spaces.  SRF and WSA delivered a report to Stewards in January 2018. You can find a copy of this report on the Pines Website. It provides a detailed roadmap for addressing different areas of concern in our community, and offers suggestions for the best path forward.

 Pines Stewards celebrate Cindy and Noelle completing the Master Watershed Steward Training Course!  Front Row: Cindy, Noelle, Michelle; Back Row: Ann, Ellen, Martin, Alice, Jim, Pat

Pines Stewards celebrate Cindy and Noelle completing the Master Watershed Steward Training Course!

Front Row: Cindy, Noelle, Michelle; Back Row: Ann, Ellen, Martin, Alice, Jim, Pat


2. Training of 2 Master Watershed Stewards: COMPLETED!

In October 2017, Cindy Hall and Noelle Chao began taking WSA’s annual Master Watershed Steward Certification Course.  Over a series of 11 sessions, Cindy and Noelle learned about rainscaping practices that reduce stormwater runoff and became familiar with the grants and permits necessary for getting big projects in the ground.  This November, they will officially graduate from the course and become certified Master Watershed Stewards for Pines on the Severn. If you have any concerns about drainage or runoff issues in Pines, please don’t hesitate to contact them.

3. Training of 10-15 Community Stewards: COMPLETED!  

Between December 2017 to February 2018, 15 Community Stewards completed a four-session training, during which they learned about best practices for reducing pollution sources and runoff in the Pines.  Community Stewards have worked hard to organize outreach events that have raised awareness about different actions that all of us can take to help keep Chase Creek and the Severn River clean. Our Community Stewards include Jim & Alice Corey, Dayna & Asha Myers, Jason & Laura Toraldo, Dan & Lauren Weirauch, and Pat Leffler, Michelle Montalbano, Ann O’Malley, Debby Roberts, Laurie Pasieka, Ellen Posten, and Martin Wittel.


4. 20% of Household Adopt Habits that Help: COMPLETED AND CONTINUING!

Since Spring, Pines Stewards have been asking residents to sign a pledge to adopt at least two of four “Habits that Help,” which will reduce pollution in our neighborhood.  The four habits we are asking Pines residents to consider adopting are

  • Caring for Septic Systems

  • Disposing of Pet Waste

  • Protecting Canopy Trees

  • Maintaining Leaves

By adopting two, three, or all four of these simple habits, we can GREATLY REDUCE the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and bacteria that enter the Chesapeake Bay.

Currently, over 20% of residents in Pines have signed the pledge.  Our team believes that we can do even better, and will continue to collect pledges through the rest of the calendar year.  If you would like to sign the pledge, please contact Ann O’Malley.

 April planting day at Lynne Seach’s home Front: Noelle and Cindy Back: Zoe Clarkwest, WSA’s Restoration Coordinator who designed the rainscaping projects in Pines, and Lynne Seach.

April planting day at Lynne Seach’s home
Front: Noelle and Cindy
Back: Zoe Clarkwest, WSA’s Restoration Coordinator who designed the rainscaping projects in Pines, and Lynne Seach.


5. 10 Rainscaping Projects Installed: 90% COMPLETE! Almost There!

In April 2018, Cindy, Noelle, and their classmates in the 2017-18 Master Watershed Steward Training Course installed two conservation landscapes at the home of Pines resident Lynne Seach.  In June 2018, rainscaping projects were installed at eight homes throughout the neighborhood. Practices included plantings on slopes and hillsides to address erosion concerns, installations of rain barrels to slow down the flow of runoff from downspouts, and landscaping with deep-rooted native plants which have the capacity to absorb a tremendous amount of stormwater.  This fall, installation of the final plantings will begin at the home of Tom and Debbie Carrico. Once the Carrico projects are in the ground, we will have completed all of WSA’s benchmarks, and officially be a Clean Water Community!