high tide sunsetAs a youth, I enjoyed countless hours wandering across the wetlands behind my family’s home on Jenkins Sound. I would fish and crab. I had my own oyster beds. I would sail across Jenkins Sound, through the tidal creeks to get to Stone Harbor to join my friends at the beach.

Along the way, the wetlands would engage my senses. I would listen to the birds and the sounds of the wind and water. I would watch the tides rise and fall; the weather and the sky; the sunrises and sunsets; the small creatures inhabiting the marshes. I was in many ways a child of these wetlands and it has always been a part of me. I have never lost my sense of wonder as I gaze across the open spaces of our wetlands. I am still filled with a sense of awe.

Now I am older, more educated, and hopefully a little wiser. I better understand the fragile nature of this place and the vulnerability and challenges that face it. So I have made a commitment to it. To this wonderful place that is so much a part of me. I understand that the only way to save it is through science, and research and education. I also know that no individual can do these things alone. It takes the involvement of so many dedicated people.

So lets go back 50 summers and picture in your mind – just for a moment – a young boy with a pack on his back, a floppy hat, dark glasses, a sunburned nose, mud on his legs and sneakers, an even muddier dog at his side. The boy is captivated by his surroundings. He is looking. He is listening. He is watching. Always watching. Always listening.

So I ask you to join me in this mission -to save this place for future generations to visit and enjoy, and yes even grow up in.

– Raymond M. Burke, III, Chairman