Phillips Wharf Environmental Center, a former mainstay of the Tilghman Island waterfront, announced one year ago it would close and sell its multi-acre campus. The pandemic, damage from Tropical Storm Isaias, and the death of founder Kelley Phillips Cox dealt the nonprofit a triple blow.
But now, the nonprofit is resurfacing in a different Eastern Shore location with a new executive director, determined to rebuild. Phillips Wharf will open a facility at the future Easton Point Park in Easton, Talbot County. The 11-acre park is part of a mixed-use waterfront development plan that will also include a promenade, boatel, seafood market, restaurants, and housing. Phillips Wharf calls the new location a “nexus of outdoor activities and education” that will allow visitors and students easier access to its programs.
The new Executive Director, Dr. Kristen Lycett, joined Phillips Wharf just before the pandemic began. She was hired to head up the Fishmobile program, a traveling aquarium equipped with 13 tanks and 2 touch tanks, which feature live animals that live in and around the Chesapeake Bay. The Fishmobile will be the first part of Phillips Wharf to get back up and running, says Dr. Lycett, returning in April for the first time since 2019. It will also include new displays, like one about fossil hunting in Maryland.
“My plan for Phillips Wharf is to rebuild slowly in a way that is manageable and sustainable. We will start with the Fishmobile and slowly add in additional programs,” says Lycett. She aims to expand with educational programs for adults on ecology and sustainable living as well as programs for school-aged children.
Phillips Wharf would like to update its Tilghman Islanders Grow Oysters program, which was able to run during the pandemic in some fashion. Locals raise baby oysters in cages off their docks to be transplanted to restoration reefs. Over 780,000 juvenile oysters have been planted this way.
Phillips Wharf is looking for community feedback about the new programs they’re looking to offer. To tell them what you’d like to see at the Easton facility, take their community survey here: https://bit.ly/3hehoz9.
-Meg Walburn Viviano