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Appalachian Laboratory

Watershed Moments

Watershed Moments Community Learning Series

Learning lasts a lifetime.

As part of its commitment to public education, the Appalachian Laboratory of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences (UMCES-AL) offers free community presentations and events through its Watershed Moments Community Learning Series. 

Due to concerns related to the spread of COVID-19 and out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of our friends in the community, Watershed Moments events will be held via Zoom for the foreseeable future.  Please see below for recordings of recent past virtual events. Contact Rhonda Schwinabart at rschwinabart@umces.edu with any event-related questions. 

We've created a short introduction video for those who are less familiar with Zoom to help demonstrate what to expect in a Watershed Moments event on Zoom.  Please click on the above right image to watch the video.  For more information and support for Zoom please visit the Zoom website at https://zoom.us/

Fall 2021 Schedule

Where Does All That Nitrogen Go…in the Patuxent and Elsewhere?

Nitrogen is one of the most important elements in the ecology of all ecosystems, including those dominated by humans.  So, developing a better understanding of how nitrogen moves into and out of ecosystems is essential. Where does nitrogen come from and where does it wind up? What story does it tell?
As an example of this environmental science effort, Boyton and his colleagues used a budget approach to track nitrogen through the Patuxent watershed, a large tributary of the Chesapeake.  In a way, this is similar to developing a money-based budget for one’s home.  This big ecosystem story had some surprising results. 
The online event is free and open to the public. Registration is required. Once registered, attendees will receive an email with Zoom access instructions. Please use the link below to register:


Walter Boynton is a Professor at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory (CBL), University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, where he has studied the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed since 1975. Boynton’s research expertise is estuarine ecology, particularly issues related to eutrophication and ecosystem restoration. Boynton serves on boards of the Patuxent Riverkeeper, Maryland-DC Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. He has served on several EPA Science Advisory Board panels reviewing the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico, Florida nutrient criteria, an EPA workgroup developing national water quality standards for estuarine systems and, more recently, worked with the Department of Justice on Gulf of Mexico oil spill issues. He was awarded the Odum Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation and was also elected president of this scientific society.

Vulture: The Private Life of an Unloved Bird

Katie Fallon. Photo courtesy of www.katiefallon.com/bio/
Vultures are often overlooked, underappreciated, and unloved, despite the vital role they play healthy ecosystems. Worldwide, vultures are more likely to be threatened or endangered than any other group of raptor, but in the United States Turkey and Black Vultures may be increasing in number. Based on Katie Fallon’s recent book, this fun presentation will discuss the life and times of the noble Turkey Vulture, including its feeding, nesting, and roosting habits, migratory behaviors, and common misconceptions.
This online event is free and open to the public. Registration is required. Once registered, attendees will receive an email with Zoom access instructions.  To register, click the following link:


Katie Fallon is the author of the nonfiction books Vulture: The Private Life of an Unloved Bird (Brandeis University Press, 2020 and University Press of New England, 2017) and Cerulean Blues: A Personal Search for a Vanishing Songbird (Ruka Press, 2011), which was a Finalist for the Reed Award for Outstanding Writing on the Southern Environment. Katie is also the co-author of two books for children, Look, See the Bird! (2017) and Look, See the Farm! (2018), both from Hatherleigh Press.
Katie is one of the founders of the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia (ACCA), Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving wild birds through research, education, and rehabilitation. The ACCA is based near Morgantown, WV, and each year treats more than 500 injured wild birds, conducts dozens of environmental education programs, and sponsors research projects. A member of the International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators, Katie has conducted educational programs featuring a variety of raptor, parrot, and corvid species. Katie has also served as President of the Mountaineer Chapter of the National Audubon Society.
A lifelong resident of Appalachia, Katie’s great-great grandfather, great-grandfather, and grandfather were coal miners in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. She lives in Cheat Lake, WV, with her family.

UMCES Alumnus and NASA Astronaut Ricky Arnold on International Space Station
Launched in 2015, the Watershed Moments series has included presentations by NASA Astronaut and UMCES alumnus Ricky Arnold, children’s author and filmmaker Lynne Cherry, glaciologist Richard Alley, and prairie dog expert and UMCES faculty member John Hoogland, among others.
More information on past Watershed Moments Community Learning Series Events, including links to event recordings, can be found here.