Staff Appreciation Day for University of Maryland Center of Environmental Science

Bill Dennison ·
4 October 2023

My first day as Interim President of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) was 25 Sept 2023. As it turns out, this coincided with the annual UMCES Staff Appreciation Day. We had our first post-COVID in person session and it was held at the Horn Point Laboratory’s outdoor pavilion. Staff attended from the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, Institute of Marine Environmental Science, Integration and Application Network, Maryland Sea Grant and Horn Point Laboratory. The Appalachian Laboratory staff joined virtually for a short while to avoid two four hour drives, but we will get together with them next week associated with our next UMCES Executive Council meeting.

The UMCES Staff Appreciation Day was lots of fun! Kevin Bruce, chair of the Staff Council, organized some great food and entertaining games. Kurt Florez, Jennifer Harrington, Jennifer Clapper and Melissa Holland put together the program, obtained the food and drinks, and helped with set up and clean up. The UMCES Unit Directors donated funding for gift cards that were awarded for the following: UMCES trivia answers, game winners, raffle ticket winners. Heath Kelsey helped me with the barbeque duties and we were treated to lots of cakes for dessert—including Smith Island cakes!


I announced the winner of the UMCES 2023 Staff Excellence Award, Cami Martin at the Appalachian Laboratory (AL). Cami has worked for UMCES for 22 years, and is a key person in the lean administrative staff at AL. A plethora of letters of support identified Cami’s multiple roles at AL, and she consistently goes above and beyond the call of duty. A few stories stood out to me. For example, Cami responded to a crisis on Christmas Eve 2022 when a sprinkler line froze and burst when heating to AL failed. She was on site for 7 hours to help the facilities manager clean up and set up repairs. Cami also recently rescued staff who had a flat tire on a busy interstate highway. My personal experience with Cami is that she quietly achieves her tasks and always has a friendly disposition. I look forward to presenting Cami with her award in person next week.

The major thing that makes UMCES a special place is the people. The staff are a crucial part of the fabric of what makes UMCES functional. These unsung heroes make it possible for the students and faculty to conduct their research in a safe, effective and timely manner. I am so glad that we had the opportunity to get to know one another in a relaxed setting. As Plato said: “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than a year of conversation”.


About the author

Bill Dennison

Dr. Bill Dennison is a Professor of Marine Science and Interim President at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES).

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