WebStock 2018Bill Dennison ·
An annual highlight with the Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) is the WebStock event that its Creative Team organizes. This year’s event was the largest ever, and was held at the beautiful headquarters of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, overlooking Chesapeake Bay on 11 Oct 2018. WebStock is designed to communicate, collaborate, and educate the CBP staff and key partners about the activities of its Creative Team. Guy Stephens, the Director of Web Development at CBP, is the lead organizer with help from the hard-working Creative Team. Guy is one of twelve embedded University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science employees at CBP (UMCES @ CBP).
Dave Yayac, the talented Web Team designer, designed this year’s WebStock logo: an anchor with a guitar, to go with the theme of “A Tribute to Yacht Rock”. Each member of the Creative Team wore t-shirts with Dave’s design. I told them that they could sell them at the Annapolis Boat Show, which was occurring simultaneously.
Guy organized an interesting way to introduce the Creative Team members, which he called a “reverse introduction”. A series of facts about each team member was provided so that the audience could guess which member was being introduced. We learned some interesting things about the team, including which members were fans of the Oxford comma, who did not like butterflies, and who had tried out for lead singer in a rock band.
The keynote speaker was Sarah Lane, an UMCES employee embedded with the Department of Natural Resources. Sarah described in her “Keepin’ it smooth, even when it grooves” talk how she developed a useful website to support the applicants for funding from the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund, which she oversees. Sarah explained how it evolved from a fairly rudimentary spreadsheet into a useful website. Concomitant with the evolution of the website was the level of funding for the Trust Fund which catalyzes innovative practices by local governments and NGOs to reduce diffuse pollution.
WebStock 2018 had eight breakout sessions, in which diverse topics such as running better meetings, making the CBP brand, targeted messaging, understanding user needs, etc. were conducted in an interactive and engaging manner.
In the branding session, I enjoyed the short description of the Chesapeake Bay Program that Rachel Felver and the Communication Workgroup devised: “Solutions to sustain a thriving Chesapeake Bay watershed, fueled by science, driven by partnership.” I especially liked the “fueled by science” bit. Some other things that occurred to me when we were challenged to describe the Chesapeake Bay Program were the following: unique partnership, widely emulated, coordinated efforts, improving Chesapeake Bay health.
I appreciated the emphasis that the Creative Team puts on visuals, including both photographs and videos. The visuals serve to amplify, clarify, and emphasize content. They practiced what they preached with stunning slides and memorable video clips.
After WebStock was over, we gathered for a bittersweet event at a local pub. Catherine Krikstan is leaving CBP after 6 years to join the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Organization (NOAA). As an UMCES @ CPB employee, she has been an enthusiastic and talented web content specialist following a two-year period with the Alliance for Chesapeake Bay. The theme at her going-away party was how much everyone was going to miss her buoyant personality.
About the author
Dr. Bill Dennison is a Professor of Marine Science and Vice President for Science Application at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES). Dr. Dennison’s primary mission within UMCES is to coordinate the Integration and Application Network.