Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology

Hughes Center

Who we are: The Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology is a 501(c)(3) corporation affiliated with the University of Maryland College Park and the University System of Maryland.  Founded in 1999, the Center brings together diverse interests from the agricultural, forestry and environmental communities for the purpose of retaining Maryland's working landscapes and the industries they support while protecting and improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

The Center works toward achieving its diverse mission through a three-pronged approach of scientific research, policy analysis, and outreach and education efforts.

Mission Statement: To provide leadership to promote environmentally sound and economically viable agriculture and forestry as Maryland's preferred land use through research, outreach and collaboration.

A Memorial to Governor Hughes

"Together, we will"

Governor Harry Hughes

Governor Harry Roe Hughes was remarkable in the way he served Maryland and in his vision for a cleaner Chesapeake Bay, but he was also equally remarkable as a person outside of the political sphere. He was a man of humility, honor, integrity, and kindness who led through consensus building.

“Governor Hughes was a cornerstone for the Chesapeake Bay cleanup initiative. Most importantly, for me, he was the kindest man I think I ever knew, and his attitude was so positive all the time,” said Dr. Russ Brinsfield, the first director of the Maryland Center for Agro-Ecology. The Center was later renamed to the Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology. “He was a consensus builder — not divisive at all, and he always reached across the aisle. His leadership style is the reason we’re as far along as we are with the Bay cleanup.”

He popularized the connection of land use with water quality — something that drives Bay restoration to this day — and helped solidify in the minds of the public and the state legislature the importance of restoring the largest estuary in North America. It was Governor Hughes who in 1983 pushed for the first regional agreement between states that surround the Chesapeake Bay. His administration was the first to push legislation such as the Critical Areas Act, and his administration that established the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

"As Governor, he appointed people to his Cabinet who were predisposed to his nature of working collaboratively. His appointees represented different sectors, but worked together to develop programs that were mutually beneficial to various groups as well as the Bay. The Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology was a natural outgrowth of this consensus-based approach,” said Verna Harrison, a friend of the governor and Hughes Center Board Member who worked with him during his tenure in state office.

“Highly intelligent, yet humble, Governor Hughes truly embodied the concept of ‘public service.’ Starting my career during the Mandel Administration, the transition to the Hughes style of leadership kept young people like myself inspired to work in government jobs,” Harrison said.

Governor Hughes’ legacy of environmental stewardship did not end after his departure from office. In 1999, Governor Hughes and other visionaries started the development of a Maryland Center for Agro-Ecology, founded on the notion that people can develop agriculture both as a profitable industry in Maryland and one that conserves and renews Maryland’s natural resources. Renamed in honor of the governor in 2006, the Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology continues the Governor’s legacy today of bringing diverse stakeholders together to discuss difficult issues and find solutions based on science.

“Governor Hughes, in his mild-mannered way, encouraged action,” said Fran Flanigan, Hughes Center Board Member and former director of Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. “I remember a meeting in his office, after he had received the report from the Chesapeake Bay Program, when he said to his assembled staff, ‘This report cannot sit on a shelf. We must act.’ I think that was his philosophy throughout his public career.”

Challenges come and go. But it is how these challenges are met and solved that is written in the history books.

“Together, we will,” Governor Hughes once said at a 2000 press conference on the Agro-Ecology Center’s creation. In honor of the Governor, let us meet future challenges facing the state and the Bay in his style — with collaboration, honor, and integrity in search of the best solutions for all involved.

The Hughes Center is honored to be named by Governor Hughes’ family as a recipient for donations from those seeking to honor his memory. Donations can be sent to the Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology, 124 Wye Narrows Drive, P.O. Box 169, Queenstown, MD 21658.

Phase III WIP Information Sessions

Registration Now Open

Registration is open for three information sessions and one webinar that will be held in April and May 2019 as part of Maryland's engagement strategy for its most recent Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP). The meetings and webinar will feature an overview of the current draft WIP and provide you with opportunities to ask questions of State agency representatives.

Please note that the sessions and webinar are not designed for gathering formal comments. The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is accepting public comments from April 12, 2019, through June 7, 2019. Instructions for submitting public comment can be found on the MDE website here.

Participants are encouraged to review the draft WIP, available on MDE’s WIP website beginning on April 12, 2019. At that time, you may also submit questions in advance of the information sessions and webinar. You can also submit formal written comments on the draft WIP through tools provided on the WIP website.

There is no cost to participate in the sessions and webinar. They are sponsored by the Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology of the University of Maryland and funded by the Town Creek Foundation.

You may register using the links below. We invite you to join the event that best fits your schedule. Information presented will be identical at all events. An agenda will be emailed to participants closer to the event dates. We hope that you will be able to attend and support the State’s commitment to restoring the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

The dates and locations of the information sessions are listed below:

Monday, April 29, 2019

Western MD

Hagerstown Community College, Kepler Theater, 11400 Robinwood Dr., Hagerstown MD 21742

To register for Western MD, click here


Friday, May 3, 2019

Eastern Shore

Chesapeake College, Todd Performing Arts Center, 1000 College Circle, Wye Mills, MD 21658

To register for Eastern Shore, click here


Monday, May 6, 2019

Central MD

Harford Community College, Chesapeake Dining Rooms, 401 Thomas Run Rd., Bel Air, MD 21015

To register for Central MD, click here


Friday, May 17, 2019


To register for the webinar, click here


Any questions can be directed to:

Nancy Nunn, Assistant Director

Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology, Inc


410-827-8056 ext. 130

Mission-Based Work

Scientific Research

Since its founding in 1999, the Center has funded more than 70 research projects totaling more than $10 million in funding. Research funded by the Hughes Center has changed agricultural practices globally. Maryland farmers are now considered national leaders in conservation practices — in part because of the research funded and policy recommendations provided by the Hughes Center. Today, the Center continues to develop scientific research to address the needs of Maryland's communities.

Discover more here

Policy Analysis

As a member of the Advisory Committee for the Governor’s Agricultural Forum and Strategic Plan, the Center played an important role in helping to plan the listening sessions that elicited input on agricultural and forestry issues from over 500 Maryland citizens, and ultimately in the formation of the 2006 Statewide Plan for Agricultural Policy and Resource Management.

As a member of the Governor's Commission on Protecting the Chesapeake Bay through Sustainable Forestry, the Center helped to shape Maryland's Strategic Forest Resource Plan for 2006, which recognizes that Maryland's forests should be managed with an eye towards the multitude of services they provide, including clean air, clean water, diverse habitat for wildlife, economic return, and recreational opportunities, among others.

Education and Outreach

The Center continues to expand its Education and Outreach efforts in Maryland.  Center staff members periodically brief the House Environmental Matters Committee and the Senate Committee on Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs; hold workshops on research topics such as the availability of tools to preserve working landscapes; make presentations to local governments and community groups; and participate in several interdisciplinary networks through the University of Maryland.

Learn more here

Support Us


Want to support the Center? The Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology, Inc. is a 501(c)3 affiliated foundation with the University of Maryland College Park. Our Form 990 is available online. Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Call Nancy Nunn, Assistant Director, at 410.827.6202 or e-mail her at nnunn@umd.edu for details on how to make your donation.


Would you prefer to donate your time, resources, or expertise? We are always seeking volunteers to assist with event planning and execution, fundraising efforts, mailings, and general Center operations. Please send an e-mail to agroecology@umd.edu or call 410.827.6202 with your specific interests/skills and availability.

Contact Us and Annual Report

Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology, Inc.
PO Box 169
124 Wye Narrows Drive
Queenstown, MD 21658

Phone: 410.827.8056
FAX: 410.827.9039

Center Staff