2022 is shaping up to be one of the strongest years yet for the Chesapeake Watershed CESU Research Network! We are coming off the highpoint of our 2021 renewal with the launch of our brand new, five-year strategic plan. This plan, which involved several iterations of input and commenting from our federal and nonfederal partners, is the most collaborative document to ever come from our CESU network. The goals outlined in the document are ambitious, but we feel they can be accomplished with the strong leadership from our host, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, and the active participation from our members. Our network is stronger than ever, and this document illustrates that strength and aims to make us better in the coming years. I want to especially thank Katie Kline and Matt Fitzpatrick at the host institution for their leadership and contributions to the document, and the National Park Service for the financial support to complete the plan. Katie has generously written a short piece and highlighted the plan in this edition of the newsletter; please be sure to check it out here.
The National Park Service has also provided an infusion of additional host support to our network to complete a number of the goals outlined in the strategic plan. One of our top priorities in the coming year involves refurbishing our website; we have rolled out two signature databases – for both projects and experts – since the last redesign of our website. We feel now is a good time to re-organize some of our content, consider a rebranding, and potentially change the lay-out of the website. The aim of this project is to make our website more functional and useful to both our federal and nonfederal partners. In addition to these changes, we hope to make some small improvements to both databases, making them more user-friendly and more sustainable.
Finally, we hope to use some of this funding to generate some promotional videos, or “shorts,” that we can feature on the website that highlight some of the projects we have done in the network. These videos will feature federal managers, principal investigators, and students who have worked on projects – illustrating the benefit their work has brought to federal agencies, the research that may have been completed, and the experience of the students with the project. These videos will also be excellent advertising to stakeholders outside the network who seek to better understand what we do, and how the network operates.
2022 looks to be an exciting year for the network! In addition to these upcoming changes, we are seeing types of projects that have never been awarded through our network before, and some of the largest funding awards in our history! I will have more to report on these two fronts in the fall newsletter, but this piece of news bodes well for the growth and attractiveness of our network in the future. Please be sure to mark your calendars for our annual meeting taking place virtually on Thursday, October 20 from 10AM to 12 NOON where we hope to further discuss the changes mentioned above and the progress of the network in 2022!