In an earlier blog post, I covered the “Keys to a Successful Campus-Community Partnership”, which outlined expectations for partnerships, as well as how to get the conversation started here at Towson University. Well, since then TU has entered into an exciting partnership with the town of Port Deposit, which is located in Cecil County.

For those of you who may not know, Port Deposit is home to the Northern Map Turtle, which is a state endangered species that is only found in the Susquehanna River. Dr. Richard Seigel of TU’s Department of Biological Sciences is leading a team of students and researchers in studying the turtle, its habitat, and its relationship to the town. Port Deposit has been extremely supportive of this work and has even adopted the Northern Map Turtle as a “mascot” for the town!

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Photo Credit: Scott McDaniel

Building on the mutual support and enthusiasm for the Northern Map Turtle, Dr. Seigel was looking for a way to get the whole university more involved. He came to the Division of Innovation and Applied Research to solicit help in formalizing the partnership, assisting in publicizing some of the activities in the town, and providing some overall coordination support. The first step we took was to get Towson University involved as a sponsor for the 1st Annual Port Deposit Food and Wine Festival and assisted the town with getting the word out about the festival to our students, faculty and staff, and alumni. A portion of the proceeds from that festival even went toward the Northern Map Turtle Project.

From there, we began the work of putting more structure around the partnership. Stakeholders from the town and from across campus, including the Fisher College of Science and Mathematics, University Relations, and the President’s Office, are working together to identify opportunities for further collaboration and support. Among other future projects, plans are in place to renovate the Gas House in town into a research lab for the turtle, where Dr. Seigel and his team can have offices and the town can have a small museum about the Northern Map Turtle and its history. It will be a great way to showcase the work that both sides have done so far.

We are really excited about continuing our work with Port Deposit and even expanding beyond the Northern Map Turtle to do more with educational outreach, environmental projects, and more. There are a lot of great people involved, which makes working together even better!

To learn more about the relationship between TU and Port Deposit or to inquire about your own partnership, contact me at 410-704-2678 or at tuinthecommunity@towson.edu.

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