Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology

Hughes Center

Our natural resources and the industries that rely on them are at critical junctures. While climate change impacts our farms, forests, towns, cities and the waterways that surround them, people who work and care for the land are challenged to adjust practices or change their operations to ensure a sustainable future. In Maryland, communities that surround the Chesapeake Bay seek to thrive alongside a healthier ecosystem.

Finding viable solutions to problems that face our working landscapes is challenging. The Hughes Center finds consensus between interests representing agriculture, forestry and the environment to solve some of the greatest issues facing these critical sectors in Maryland which ultimately impact all citizens of the state.

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Mission-Based Work

People talking at a Hughes Center event.

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.

Our mission is to provide leadership to promote environmentally sound and economically viable agriculture and forestry as Maryland's preferred land use through research, outreach and collaboration. The Center works toward achieving its mission through a three-pronged approach of scientific research, policy analysis, and outreach and education efforts.

Read our strategic plan

Read our most recent annual report

Scientific Research

Good policy results from impartial research. Over the course of the last decade, the Hughes Center has funded more than 70 research projects totaling more than $10 million.

Our current research focuses on critical issues including:

  • Studying and implementing agricultural best management practices that improve soil health and reduce nutrient losses
  • Opportunities to improve and enhance operations within the local foodshed
  • Improving management of  small forested parcels based on landowner objectives
  • Combating the impacts of saltwater intrusion on coastal agricultural communities

Discover more here

Policy Analysis

Our work has been used to evaluate the effectiveness and potential negative impacts of policies towards environmental improvements and a strengthened food system.

Research by University of Maryland scientists funded by the Hughes Center led to the creation of Maryland’s cover crop system. The Center’s funded studies of the Chesapeake Bay region’s food system have identified numerous steps where smart policies can improve the system. And future assessments of forest cover and tree canopy in Maryland will guide policies on these treasured environmental assets for decades to come.

Education and Outreach

The Hughes Center’s work in the Chesapeake Bay arena extends beyond producing unbiased scientific research to guide policy and practice. The Center has historically brought together advocates for agricultural and environmental communities to find common ground and develop partnerships that advance issues collaboratively. 

Since 2012, the Hughes Center has conducted regional Watershed Implementation (WIP) workshops throughout Maryland. The workshops provide the local stakeholders the opportunity to interact with Maryland Department of Environment and Department of Agriculture staff that are responsible for the state’s watershed implementation plan. Beyond WIP workshops, the Center has coordinated and hosted outreach events around initiatives that advance the Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort, including symposiums on nutrient trading, poultry, and stormwater and wastewater.

Learn more here

Support Us

Support Hughes Center

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. The Harry R. Hughes Endowed Fellowship Fund supports research projects that retain Maryland’s working landscapes while protecting the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

Our Form 990 is available online. Donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Donations can be made online to the Harry R. Hughes Endowed Fellowship Fund by clicking here. Call Nancy Nunn, Assistant Director, at 410.827.6202 or email her at for further details.

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Address & Contact


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

Contact Us

Phone: 410.827.6202
FAX: 410.827.9039

Center Staff

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