Wednesday my daughter Alex and I combined a nature hike with a visit to my son Chris, who is now doing post-doctoral research at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC). Who knew that one of the leading environmental research centers in the world is located right here in Edgewater Maryland. Two thousand six hundred and fifty acres of land serve as headquarters for a team of more than 180 researchers, technicians, and students lead by approximately 16 senior scientists. Tucked off the highway near Muddy Creek Road, the acreage that once included a 265 acre dairy farm, is nestled along the Rhodes River, providing diverse habitats for terrestrial, wetland, and estuarine field biology and ecology fieldwork. Much of the scientist’s lab work is currently being conducted in temporary trailer structures, so a large lab facility is currently under construction.
Visit their website to check the calendar for upcoming educational events. There are programs for children, families, and adults.
The crisp sunny day enabled us to explore the trails that cross a bridge that spans over a wetland and takes you to see fish weirs and possible sightings of foxes, deer, voles, squirrels, and birds. Chris, who is studying bay vegetation in his professional work, has a particular fascination with mushrooms. This photo shows a Turkey Tail mushroom, a medicinal mushroom used to make tea. According to Chris this is a very pretty specimen because the purple shade is less common than the maroon color of most turkey tail mushrooms that you will encounter. Mushrooms grow very successfully in tree logs, and Chris is planting an entire farm of mushrooms in his yard where he lives. (We’ve also got a few currently starting out in our basement!) Check back in a few months and maybe I’ll have some photos of homegrown mushrooms.
I look forward to visiting SERC again and seeing it change through the seasons. Spring, Summer, and Fall there are guided canoe tours. If you are bringing a large group for hiking suggest that you call in advance. Normal hours for visitors are 9:00-4:30.