Jan Knox Appointed New FOL Chair

November 25th, 2014 No Comments

Passing the Torch

by Christine Dagostino

Christine and Brooke at Fall Fest 2014
Photographed by Mark Widrick. Fall Festival 2014. From left: Christine Dagostino and Brooke McGrath

I never considered myself a born leader. I felt much more comfortable hanging around the outer edges of groups and just admiring how many different opinions and perspectives there are in this world. I am a peacemaker – I just want everyone to get along. I love my family and the comforts of my home. I love tucking my children in bed at night after reading them a bedtime story.

This is why I was stepping way out of my comfort zone the night I decided to attend a meeting at the LLA Office in September 2012 about water quality concerns throughout the community. I had heard murmurings and third hand stories at the bus stop, small groups of overscheduled neighbors clutching morning cups of coffee discussing how important our lake was and how impossible it was to do anything about it because we were busy parents. The general consensus was that those in power made the decisions for our community whether or not residents disagreed, so what’s the point?

That meeting in September 2012 brought up so many questions that seemed impossible to answer. How could we save our lake from becoming a mud puddle when it costs millions of dollars? How could we catch up on the “maintenance” that had never been done on our waterways in the past 40+ years? How could we clean up our water when we had no control over our beloved lake collecting runoff from the rural and agricultural areas around us? How could we convince residents that the tiny changes they make on their postage stamp lots collectively can change the health of our lake waters? How could we find out more about the relationship between our sediment buildup issues and our water quality issues without raising dues and without decreasing the value of our homes with too much doomsday themed reporting of these issues?

That night I met Bob Charles and Neal Spungen, two residents who impressed me with their willingness to look for answers and proactive solutions amidst a sea of past failures, strong opinions, and general widespread apathy towards any hope for change. Bob had spent years and countless hours meticulously combing legal documents searching for answers and solutions to our sediment buildup issues. He spoke to legislators on federal, state, and local levels, “experts” in multiple fields, and endlessly searched for grants and other programs our community could qualify for and from which could benefit. Neal, who volunteered at the meeting to look into the Water Quality issues with our lake (thus forming a Water Quality Committee) was a natural leader with organizational skills and a management style that could keep even the most idealistic, free-thinking residents (umm that would be me) on track. Many residents with a variety of backgrounds came out to meetings on a regular basis determined to try to come up with answers. We researched other lake communities out there with similar issues. We spoke with longtime residents who could remember efforts in the past that were successful or that failed. We located resources out in the community that would collaborate with us to help us find answers to our questions about improving our water quality.

Through those many late night meetings, the Water Quality testing program was born, and a solid and mutually beneficial relationship with the Hood College’s Coastal Studies Program began. The Board of Directors approved a water testing program that regularly informed residents of changes in water quality during warmer months when residents were most likely to use the lake recreationally. For months on end a crew of dedicated volunteers trudged out to various collection sites throughout Lake Linganore performing tests on turbidity and flow rates as well as collecting samples to be analyzed at Hood. There was even a transport system set up so that volunteers could drop off samples to a resident who would drive them down to Hood for analysis.

But back to the bus stop meetings…Having been a biology nerd in a former life, I liked the idea of water testing, but I had young kids. Every parent/friend I talked to about my new passion responded with an “oh that’s really important – its’ too bad I have young kids and I’m busy.” After many questions from my own kids I saw them starting to take an interest in caring for our lakes and animals. They wanted to learn more, but on their level. This is when I began Lake Rangers – a column dedicated to getting residents and young kids out in nature to discover (and hopefully appreciate) what natural abundance was all around us, and learn as a family to protect our natural resources.

After continuing to speak with people in the community there were so many that didn’t realize we had a trail system, or in some cases a big lake and small lakes. After some bus stop brainstorming LakeQuest was born as a fun incentive based way to get residents (especially new ones who seemed to be coming in droves with all the new development) educated about the land we lived on and how to take care of it even if they couldn’t attend meetings.

With Brooke McGrath (a fellow bus stop friend, mom and passionate resident) at my side we were loving becoming more and more involved in community outreach. In January of 2013, we sat down at a meeting with Bob Charles, Neal Spungen and Bob Kimble and were “enthusiastically encouraged” to take on the role of Chairperson of Friends of the Lake – with Bob Charles focusing on Dredging and Neal continuing to focus on water quality and testing. I envisioned a revitalized FOL as an umbrella organization that would be inclusive of future initiatives and projects, a diverse array of interests from residents willing to help and wanting to promote positive change and education.

Fortunately it didn’t take too much badgering to get Brooke to agree to
Co-Chair, and she went on to be a rockstar organizing such fun events as Fall Fest and the Bake Off. Meanwhile many others continued their efforts to educate the community and search for answers to the questions of how best to clean up and maintain our lakes in the long run.

Both Brooke and I are continuing to stay involved with Friends of the Lake through community outreach efforts including continuing the LakeQuest tradition in years to come as well as continuing to attend community events and write articles in LakeTalk (including Lake Rangers). However, both of us are extremely overjoyed to introduce the community to the new Chair of Friends of the Lake, Jan Knox, whose vision for a sustainable Lake Linganore and whose expertise and leadership is exactly what we think our community needs. It is our hope that FOL can continue to educate and empower the residents of our community with the tools necessary to preserve and protect this place we and so many others call home.

A Note from Jan Knox

“I come from a long line of gardeners in my family. My Aunt Mary gave me my first geraniums when I was five. Gardening was a passion of my mother’s as long as she lived. Now that my children and grandchildren like to dig in the dirt, I am very happy that I have passed my gardening passions to the next generations of my family.

I have lived in Frederick County for 28 years and for the past 4 years I have lived in the condos here at Lake Linganore. When I sold my townhouse and moved to my condo my daughters were concerned that I would have gardening withdrawal. I told them I would garden in pots and have lots of houseplants. As it turns out, I’ve been able to put my gardening skills to good use in Lake Linganore.

This year I accomplished something that had been on my Bucket List for years, I became a Frederick County Master Gardener through the University of Maryland Extension service. Before I entered into the Master Gardener (MG) program I thought it was just a class to learn more about gardening, I didn’t realize how much was involved. To become an MG you have to be accepted into the program. First you write a letter of interest to the Frederick County Master Gardener Coordinator, then you have a personal interview and a background check. If you’re accepted you have to successfully complete the Master Gardener’s Program by having 40 hrs. of classroom training, passing the exam and completing 40 hrs. of volunteer service in your first year. To remain an active MG you are required to provide at least 20 hrs. of volunteer service each calendar year and have 10 hours of continuing education. Our mission statement is: To support the University of Maryland Extension by educating residents about safe, effective and sustainable horticultural practices that build healthy gardens, landscapes, and communities. What better way for me to accomplish these goals than in my own backyard!

I’m excited to have been asked to Chair The Friends of the Lake Committee, I’ve been involved with the group you may have seen me gardening in the community. I spearheaded the Audubon Condo Reforestation Project and I have been out weeding around all our newly planted red cedars! This was a great year for our newly planted trees because of all the rain.

I’m looking forward to supporting FOL in the future, but until next time, happy gardening!”

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