Bean donates $20,000 worth of kayaks, gear to bay foundation

L. L.

4 children from Howard also will benefit this year

April 21, 2001|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is getting new kayaks and other equipment, and four Howard County children will get to spend two weeks on the bay this summer learning about its ecology, thanks to donations from L.L. Bean Inc.

In conjunction with its third retail store opening next month at the Mall in Columbia, the outdoors retailer, with headquarters in Freeport, Maine, recently donated $20,000 worth of kayaks, tents, sleeping bags, personal flotation devices and other equipment to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The company will be working with the group and using some of its bayfront property to run the L.L. Bean Outdoor Discovery Schools.

"A donation like this means a lot to us," said Michael Shultz, vice president of public affairs for the foundation. "There's almost no government money in what we do. We're almost all privately financed."

The foundation runs 17 programs with kayaks and canoes and has about 200 such boats in the water about 200 days a year, Shultz said. He said the best way to acquaint people with the bay is to use the small boats to paddle into the coves and branches that create the bay's "fingers."

L.L. Bean's donation of 10 boats will help renew the fleet and preserve funds for other programs, Shultz said.

"It's money we can use somewhere else - building an oyster reef or developing a new education program for schools," he said.

The company has set aside more money for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, but it will come through scholarships for Howard County middle and high school children, a company spokeswoman said.

The retailer donated $15,000 to the Columbia Foundation to establish scholarships in the company's name and send county children to a bay foundation summer program.

This year's donation will pay for two middle and two high school gifted and talented students to attend a two-week camp and will establish a $5,000 endowment to help pay for future scholarships, according to Barbara Lawson, executive director of the Columbia Foundation. The students will learn about conservation, bay ecology and how the things they do at home affect the bay and its inhabitants.

"This happens to be a very generous gift for a retailer and a big vision," Lawson said. "If everything goes well, we hope to continue with the program" by receiving future contributions from L.L. Bean and growing the endowment fund.

The spokeswoman for L.L. Bean also said that the company would consider making future contributions if the program is well-received. Although students are routinely charged little if anything to attend the camps, the approximate cost per person to run the program is $2,500, Shultz said.

Lawson said letters soon will be going out to middle and high school principals in the county, encouraging them to nominate students for this year's program. The students will be selected according to criteria already established by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, she said.

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