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Outside Perspective: Fall 2020

Photo of Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio

Autumn is a time marked by cooling weather, falling leaves, and, of course, elections.

While the pandemic has initiated an important discussion on how to hold elections, historically, Marylanders gathered in election houses to cast their votes. Election houses were small, purpose-built structures constructed specifically for voting. Today only a handful of them survive. One of oldest still standing in Maryland, and perhaps even in the country, is at Sang Run State Park, in Garrett County, Maryland – a site the Lt. Governor and I visited this past winter. In this edition of Natural Resource Magazine we highlight the story of the DNR team that worked to bring this dilapidated but historically significant structure back to its original, circa-1872 appearance.

Knowing that the building was in use through the 1970s, it is interesting to think about the stories and the changes this small building has witnessed over the years!

One of those changes came Aug. 14, 1920, with the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which secured American women the right to vote. In honor of the amendment’s centennial, Governor Larry Hogan declared 2020 the Year of the Woman here in Maryland.

We at DNR have been highlighting the many women who make our department a success and the “First Woman of Forestry,” Teri Batchelor is no exception. In our From the Field profile, we honor Teri who unfortunately passed away in July. She was the first female student to enter DNR’s Career Camp in the 1970s, the first woman forester hired by the state in 1979, and the first Maryland woman to be named a Fellow of the Society of American Foresters, the primary national organization for professional foresters in the United States. While we are saddened by the loss of Teri, we continue to be inspired by her story and her legacy.

As we encourage more women to become involved in careers in natural resources management, we are also encouraging more women to participate in outdoor recreation. Our mentored hunt program, for example, was a great fit for Baltimore-area nurse Sara Rutledge, who is featured in this edition detailing her first hunt in Dorchester County.

We also offer a look at kayak fishing, an increasingly popular Maryland activity that provides a way to enjoy Maryland’s scenic waters complete with a list of the best fishing spots in our Maryland State Park system.

I also encourage you to read about our parks which have been open throughout the duration of the pandemic. While COVID has presented new safety concerns and has resulted in record attendance in parks across the state, our incredibly talented and dedicated staff and volunteers have been meeting this sizable challenge in amazing ways.

For all of us, it has been a very challenging year. I am proud to say that DNR continues to rise to the occasion and we are working hard to maintain our day-to-day operations and our commitment to good customer service. On behalf of all of us at the department, I wish you a safe and enjoyable fall and we thank you for your patience as we all get through these hard times together!

Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio

Article appears in Vol. 23, No. 3 of the Maryland Natural Resource magazine, fall 2020.