Memorial Day 2013 signaled the start of Horn Point Laboratory’s (HPL) free seasonal tours at the beautiful 880-acre campus less than two miles from downtown Cambridge. Held every Tuesday and Saturday at 10:00 am, HPL grad students lead 90-minute walking tours for residents and visitors interested in learning about one of Dorchester’s most innovative – and largest – employers.
HPL, the flagship campus of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Studies (UMCES) led by Dr. Dan Boesch, is a world-renowned research lab and academic center. Under the direction of Dr. Michael Roman, HPL conducts vital scientific research to discover solutions to help restore the bay’s ecosystem. With almost 150 scientists, faculty, graduate students, administrators and staff, the former DuPont estate is also a major employer and generates a significant economic impact for the county. A 2006 study found that the economic impact of HPL in Dorchester County resulted in direct spending of $15.2 million. During the high season – April through September – dozens of additional people work at HPL in one of the seasonal oyster recovery programs or summer internships.
On average, 10-12 graduate students in marine biology, oceanography, chemistry and physics are based at the campus for up to three years. Students like Minnesota native Nicole Millett, who led a recent tour we attended, live in and around Cambridge and form lasting bonds with the community, often volunteering with organizations such as the YMCA.
More than 500 people attended the summer tours in 2012 and another 750 came to the annual open house. HPL attracts hundreds more visitors each year who attend workshops, participate in research projects, or serve as adjunct faculty.