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New at Calvert Marine Museum

Deputy director Sherrod Sturrock steps up to lead

Calvert Marine Museum’s new executive director Sherrod Sturrock with otter Chessie Grace.

Calvert Marine Museum keeps track of the ages. You learn about the prehistoric Chesapeake there by encountering creatures that lived in that shallow, warm ocean and on its shores. About the humans who followed ages later, and how the water enriched their lives. About the creatures that evolved, died and live in Chesapeake Bay and the Patuxent River.
    Over 46 years, it’s grown steadily. From the old Solomons Island School, now its administrative building, it’s added a 26,000-square-foot exhibition and program space; two lighthouses; the old Lore Oyster House; the Patuxent Small Craft Guild Boathouse; and a half-dozen smaller buildings.
    What’s new is who leads the museum into its second half century.
    Even she’s not all that new. New executive director Sherrod Sturrock has been deputy director since 2005.

•   •   •

Bay Weekly    What do you do best at Calvert Marine Museum?

Sherrod Sturrock    We are first and foremost an educational institution. Our whole goal is to help people love, cherish and care for the natural and cultural environment. We feel if we can take them on the Patuxent River and help them understand what makes this place special, how human impact can be detrimental to the environment or a positive influence, then we will recruit people who will become good stewards of our heritage, farmland, barns, our watermen, our boats — all the things that make us unique.

Bay Weekly    What makes you the unique person who gets to do the top job?

Sherrod Sturrock    When I got the deputy job, I said my entire working life prepared me to do it … and now it to do this. When we were not able to attract what we need for what we pay, I realized it was meant to be. I understand the museum, its challenges and where we need to go in the next couple of years. I can help move us down that road before I retire.

Bay Weekly    Your entire working life prepared you how?

Sherrod Sturrock    Compared to our retiring director Doug Alves, who trained for work in museums, my career has been quite a patchwork. I was a theater major with a masters in education, and all my early work was tied to education, community and the arts. I ran a children’s museum and theater, and I worked for the Foxfire Fund in Georgia. Every job taught me and helped me make community ­connections.
    My previous job with Calvert County was incredibly valuable in terms of my ability to do a good job here. As capital projects director, I helped build this museum. My ties from that work help make our lives at the museum easier because I know the people.
    Community, education and working with people are my touchstones.
Bay Weekly    What do you expect to do more of?
Sherrod Sturrock    Fundraising!
    Calvert County, paying 58 percent of our operating budget, is our largest donor. A big part of my job is working well with the county and making sure they’re happy with the work we do. Our county commissioners would love to see us do more in contributing to our costs, and that’s our goal.

Bay Weekly    How will you do that?

Sherrod Sturrock    Now we raise all the money for our exhibits, programs and many salaries. We do a good job with our fundraising events, our concerts, our museum sales.
    But fostering significant donors is fairly new. Now we’re getting ready to ask in terms of long-term gifts, planned giving and endowments. I think people will be supportive. But we have to have the infrastructure to receive their largesse.

Bay Weekly    What should people expect of the museum?

Sherrod Sturrock    We have a lot of visitors, 85,000 last year alone.
    Every person from wherever in the world is amazed at the quality of our exhibits. We say “Smithsonian quality on local scale,” and that is no exaggeration.
    Of all the things to fight about, I overheard a couple arguing about not having visited sooner. Why didn’t you tell me this was so great? he demanded.
    If you’re like them, do yourself a favor. Come visit. We’re setting up a new exhibit, Recreational Playground, on how local waters changed in the 20th century from a place of work to a place of play.

Bay Weekly    What’s your favorite spot in the museum?

Sherrod Sturrock    After an especially rough day, to regain my sanity I go out and watch the otters, Squeak and Chessie Grace. They make me laugh and forget about my issues.