Howard County Conservancy
The mission of the Howard County Conservancy is to protect the open spaces, rural environment, and agricultural resources of Howard County; to promote the preservation and improvement of the natural environment and historic sites; and to engage in and promote education and the scientific study of our agricultural resources and the natural environment.
The Chandler S. Robbins Skywatch (Photo by Nancy McAllister)
Of specific interest to birders is the Chandler S. Robbins SkyWatch, a joint initiative of the Howard County Bird Club and the Howard County Conservancy. It’s at the conservancy’s Mount Pleasant Farm location along the grassland loop trail, a short distance north of the Montjoy Barn.
With a 360° view of the horizon, this is a great place to watch the migration of hawks, kestrels, osprey, eagles, and even non-raptor migrants like swallows, warblers, hummingbirds, and monarchs.
Read about Howard County ornithologist Chandler Robbins:
Maryland Department of Natural Resources
The Department of Natural Resources leads Maryland in securing a sustainable future for our environment, society, and economy by preserving, protecting, restoring, and enhancing the State’s natural resources.
Robinson Nature Center
We’re a unique LEED* Platinum-certified nature education facility situated on 18 acres of land adjacent to the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area. We offer educational programs, field trips, birthday parties, home school, scout programs, and more.
This Center was made a reality through the foresight and generosity of James and Anne Robinson. The Center continues to be partially supported by the James & Anne Robinson Foundation and is owned and operated by the Howard County Department of Recreation & Parks.
* Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is an internationally-recognized, consensus-based green building certification system. Buildings are evaluated and awarded LEED certification at one of four levels: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum, with very few buildings reaching the Platinum level. Robinson Nature Center was certified as LEED Platinum in February 2012.
“Tracking Migrations and Seasons”
Journey North is one of North America’s premiere citizen science programs for people of all ages and includes families, teachers, schools, nature centers, professional scientists, and novices.
Journey North provides an easy entry point to citizen science, with simple protocols, strong online support, and immediate results.
Reported sightings of plants and animals (for example, first sightings of hummingbirds during spring migration) are mapped in real-time as waves of migrations and changing seasons move across the continent. People report sightings from the field, view maps, take pictures, and leave comments.
You can participate – and see the results!
Howard County Beekeepers Association
Our purpose is to promote honey beekeeping in Howard County, Maryland, by providing a forum in which current honey beekeepers may become more knowledgeable of best practices, and the public can become more accurately informed on the benefits of honey bees.
- Find workshops, courses, resources, and FAQ to help responsible beekeepers make important decisions.
- Got bees? If the insects are honey bees, one of our beekeepers should be able to help. But before you pick up the phone, use our bee/hornet/wasp identification guide so you’ll be able to take the right steps right away.
- Find local honey bee products (honey, pollen, wax, beeswax/honey soap, candles, lip balm, lotion, etc.) for sale by HCBA members.
“Connecting people and nature in the Capital Region”
Nature Forward inspires residents of the greater Washington, DC, region to appreciate, understand, and protect their natural environment through outdoor experiences, education, and advocacy.
Nature Forward is headquartered in the Woodend Nature Sanctuary, a peaceful 40-acre oasis for experienced nature lovers and new explorers! Come enjoy the serenity of our wildflower meadows, walk our meandering woodland trails, visit our native plant gardens, and explore the aquatic life of our pond.
Woodend Nature Sanctuary is free and open to the public every day of the year from dawn to dusk.
Also, don’t miss the wonderful selection in our Woodend Nature Shop, housed in our historic Georgian mansion.
Eastern Ecological Science Center (EESC)
In 2020, the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (PWRC) and Leetown Science Center (LSC) merged to create the Eastern Ecological Science Center (EESC). Our goals are to align our scientific capabilities with the most pressing conservation and management challenges; establish an engaged workforce that fosters high relationship trust with employees, partners and the public.
We conduct several national programs, including:
Patuxent Research Refuge
Established in 1936 by executive order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Patuxent Research Refuge is the nation’s only national wildlife refuge established to support wildlife research.
There are two areas of the refuge open to visitation. Each area has different operating hours and recreational opportunities. Please note that no food or drink is available on the refuge.
- South Tract hosts five miles of walking trails, two scenic lakes, and the National Wildlife Visitor Center. South Tract’s grounds are open from sunrise to sunset. Fishing on Cash Lake and hunting are available seasonally with a permit/license.
- North Tract offers a Visitor Information Station and 15 miles of trails for walking, biking and horseback riding. With fewer visitors than South Tract, it offers a quiet atmosphere for those seeking respite from the busy world. Due to active nearby gun ranges and the risk of unexploded ordnance, visitors must stay on roads and trails. North Tract closes for federal holidays and occasionally for scheduled hunts.
Friends of Patuxent
Friends of Patuxent (Friends), a tax-exempt, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, is a group of dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers who share a passion, and work hard to support and promote the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Patuxent Research Refuge and the US Geological Survey’s Eastern Ecological Science Center (EESC) in Laurel, Maryland.
The National Wildlife Visitor Center was built and opened in 1994 with support from Friends, Congress, local governments, organizations, and private donors, and Friends operates its Wildlife Images Bookstore and Nature Shop.
Friends also holds seasonal fundraisers at North or South Tract as a means of generating funds to support the Refuge and the EESC.
Whipps Garden Cemetery
At the Whipps Cemetery Park, Howard County Master Gardeners and community volunteers plant and maintain heritage and native species in a variety of different settings, interspersed by pathways, benches, and around the tombstones. The plants are typical of those grown in Maryland gardens of the 1800s.
The cemetery is maintained entirely by volunteers, primarily the University of Maryland Extension Howard County Master Gardeners. It’s supported by donations and fund-raisers, for example:
- Annual Plant Sale – featuring many hard-to-find perennials, registered daylilies, and many other plants donated by the Howard County Master Gardeners.
- Daffodil Day – featuring horticultural talks by Master Gardeners in Whipps’ Woodland Theatre, garden tours, and potted bulb sales.
University of Maryland Extension
University of Maryland Extension (UME) educational programs and problem-solving assistance are available to citizens and are based on the research and experience of land grant universities such as the University of Maryland, College Park.
Have a question? You can Ask an Expert.
- 4-H & Youth Resources
- Agribusiness Management
- Animal Agriculture
- Environment & Energy
- Food & Nutrition
- Health & Well-Being
- Natural Resources
- Plant Agriculture
- Yard & Garden
Maryland Biodiversity Project
The Maryland Biodiversity Project (MBP) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization focused on cataloging the living things of Maryland. We promote conservation, science, and education by helping to build a vibrant nature study community.
The project was started in June 2012 by Bill Hubick and Jim Brighton. The incredible MBP community has cataloged tens of thousands of species, including many with photographs, and features the work of thousands of naturalists and photographers.
Maryland Native Plant Society
The Maryland Native Plant Society’s mission is to promote awareness, appreciation, and conservation of Maryland’s native plants and their habitats. We pursue our mission through education, research, advocacy, and service activities.
Natural History Society of Maryland
“Exploring & Preserving Maryland’s Natural Treasures”
We offer many programs – from social events to advanced courses.
We conserve our natural history collections, educate citizens, and inspire youth to study the natural sciences. We host collections of plants, animals, fossils, and minerals, dating back to the early 1800s; and are developing a new natural history museum.
Our goal? That every Marylander learns to observe, identify, and appreciate the natural world that exists in our state.
Are you a naturalist? Do you:
- Collect rocks and shells?
- Notice the phases of the moon?
- Compare the shapes and colors of autumn leaves?
- Photograph nature on hikes?
- Watch birds at a bird feeder?
- Write observations in a nature journal?
- Have a favorite tree in your backyard?
- Read nature writing (Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, Rachel Carson)?
- Listen to frog calls at night?
- Sketch wildlife and flowers?
- Follow animal tracks in the snow?
- Download apps to identify birds or plants?
- Observe a ladybug as it lands on your finger?
These are just a handful of the characteristics of a naturalist. Chances are, if you answered “yes” to any of these, you have the makings of a naturalist!
We are an organization that shares these interests, too!
Horseshoe Crab Recovery Coalition
The dramatic decrease in horseshoe crab egg availability has caused a shortage in available eggs for foraging species (e.g., birds and fish) and has resulted in a crash of their populations as well.
The Red Knot shorebird uses the Delaware Bay as a stopover to feed during their migration from the southern tip of South America to the Canadian Artic (more than 9,000 miles [14,000 km]). During their week-long feeding frenzy, they eat enough to double their body weight so they have sufficient fuel to complete their northbound journey.
Poor egg availability on the Delaware Bay beaches leaves emaciated birds unable to complete the last stage of their long migration, increasing the risk of death during their journey, or failure to breed once they reach their destination.
Recovery of the horseshoe crab population is possible!