Maryland’s university for the environment honors Senator Cardin for leadership and impact

April 19, 2024

Nearly 100 years ago, Maryland biologist Reginald Truitt noticed changes in the oyster populations in the Chesapeake Bay. He was a pioneer of environmental science in Maryland and among the first to realize the Bay’s decline—and its potential for renewal. His dedicated work and inspiring foresight gave rise to one of the world’s leading institutions for coastal studies, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES).

For the seventh time in its 100-year history, Maryland’s university for the environment has bestowed the Reginald V. Truitt Environmental Award on a noted Marylander whose dedication and achievements resulted in a better understanding and stewardship of the environment. The award was given to U.S. Senator Ben Cardin at a special event last evening with invited guests at the William Paca House & Garden in Annapolis.

“To get an award from [UMCES] with what you do—you’re doing the basic core research that’s going to save us in regards to not just the Chesapeake but treating our water and environment the way we need to save our ecosystem and to have the quality of life that we need. You’re training the people who are going to find the answers to help us solve these problems. You give me great hope,” said U.S. Senator Ben Cardin before a crowd of more than 100 scientists, students, agency and government leaders from across the state. “Thank you for what you do to make our state better, to make our environment better, and literally make our country and world safer for all people.”

A third-generation Marylander, Senator Cardin has served the people of Maryland in the U.S.Senate, and before that in the House of Representatives, as a leading advocate in protecting the Chesapeake Bay—the environmental, economic, historical, and cultural heart of Maryland—and a national champion of protecting our clean air and clean water. He has introduced legislation to restore the health of America’s great water bodies and is the leading proponent of investing in improvements to America’s aging water infrastructure system while preparing it for the impacts of climate change.

"The treasured Chesapeake Bay watershed and its abundant resources are at the heart of our region’s cultural identity and economic wellbeing. I spent my career working to protect the Bay because its viability secures Maryland’s environmental and economic future,” said Senator Cardin. “Through significant legislative action and federal investments, we’ve made incredible progress to address current challenges and meet the challenges ahead. We’re moving in the right direction for a cleaner, more sustainable Bay, and it is an honor to be recognized for this work.”

Senator Cardin has helped steer tens of millions in federal funds to Chesapeake Bay research and restoration efforts as well as federal clean water initiatives. From his work on the Chesapeake Bay Agreement in the early 1980s to funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program, he has been committed to the Bay and its tributaries. He has been a strong supporter of fishery recovery efforts of striped bass, blue crabs, and oysters, working tirelessly to boost funding to restore oyster populations in the Bay and major Maryland tributaries and to support continued research on the impacts of restoration on other species dependent upon oyster reefs and local water quality improvements.

Truitt Award speakers Congressman John Sarbanes, UMCES Interim President Bill Dennison, Senator Ben Cardin, and Imani Black

“As Marylanders and scientists, we are grateful for everything he has done for Marylanders and the Chesapeake Bay,” said UMCES Interim President Bill Dennison. “He has embraced and supported our charge as the preeminent environmental research university for the State of Maryland, and we are honored to give him this important and well-deserved legacy recognition.”

The program featured remarks by Congressman John Sarbanes, whose father U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes received the award, and UMCES graduate student Imani Black.

Past recipients of the award include U.S. Senator Paul Spyros Sarbanes, Governor Parris N. Glendening, Governor Harry Hughes, Senator Charles Mathias, Senator Bernie Fowler, and Governor Martin O’Malley.