The Mattawoman Creek Art Center is holding an opening reception for “Chasing the Light; An Engineer’s Foray Into Photography” at the gallery in Smallwood State Park. Admission to the park and to the gallery are always free for MCAC visitors. The reception is at 1 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 18.

The reception includes complementary hors d’oeuvres and drinks, and the chance to chat with the artist about travel, landscape photography, fine art production workflows, or all the ways he almost died taking many of the photographs. Victor Foulk is a Mojave Desert native, eventually transplanted into Southern Maryland in 2007. With a background in systems engineering and decades working in various rocket propulsion and nuclear propulsion programs, he quite accidentally evolved a passion for photography as a part of his journey. His photography, at times, aims to capture sweeping vistas awash in color representative of standing in the most beautiful and reverent places. Yet other imagery delves into the tiniest of details or colorless structural elements as a reminder that true beauty is all around us.

CSM announces Labor Day schedule, start of fall semester

The College of Southern Maryland announced all CSM campuses will be closed Monday, Sept. 2, to observe the Labor Day holiday. In addition, CSM’s La Plata, Leonardtown, Prince Frederick and Regional Hughesville campuses will be closed Saturday, Aug. 31 and Sunday, Sept. 1. The holiday closure applies to all CSM fitness and aquatic centers. CSM welcomes back students and begins its 2019 fall semester Sept. 3. With more than 100 programs and more than 60 guaranteed transfer agreements with colleges and universities nationwide, CSM can help make it possible for students to secure job offers — not debt — in pursuit of their goals. To register, visit register.csmd.edu.

This fall, CSM is also launching accelerated classes for most evening classes. This new student success initiative builds on students’ abilities to retain greater information within shorter structured time periods. In addition, CSM will offer the entire business management associate in applied science degree program in an accelerated schedule, making it possible for students to complete their business management degree in 15 months.

For students who have already applied for admission, CSM staff make it easy to register for classes Saturday, Aug. 24, during its ‘Super Saturday’ event being held at the La Plata, Leonardtown and Prince Frederick campuses. Super Saturday is a do-it-all event for students to explore the campus, complete placement tests, meet with an adviser, register, pay for classes and purchase books for the upcoming semester. Students who need to take placement tests must arrive by 9 a.m. Call 301-934-7765, option 9, for more information or visit www.csmd.edu/admissions.

Students who have already registered are encouraged to attend CSM’s New Student Welcome – an opportunity to connect with other first-time students and college faculty while learning more about the college’s student services and available program. The event includes dinner and door prizes. The New Student Welcome events occur from 4 to 8 p.m. on Aug. 20 at the Leonardtown Campus; on Aug. 22 at the Prince Frederick Campus and on Aug. 28 at the La Plata Campus. Students can RSVP at www.csmd.edu/apply-register/credit/welcome/.

The La Plata Campus is located at 8730 Mitchell Road, La Plata. The Leonardtown Campus is located at 22950 Hollywood Road, Leonardtown. The Prince Frederick is located at 115 J.W. Williams Road, Prince Frederick. For directions or an interactive campus map, visit https://www.csmd.edu/about/locations/.

Arts alliance seeking fair goody bag items

The Charles County Arts Alliance is looking for free items to give away in its arts bags. Each year the arts alliance assembles arts bags filled with flyers, pens, bookmarks, coupons, water bottles, rulers, brochures, business cards, press releases event announcements and other promotional materials to hand out to Charles County Fair attendees.

The Charles County Arts Alliance is asking interested organizations and businesses to bring 500 of their promotional items to their office, at 10250 La Plata Road in La Plata, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Items must fit in the bags,, which are 12 inches wide and 15 inches tall. The deadline for delivery is Sept. 4. For additional information, call 301-392-5900.

Registration for online stewardship course opens

Registration is now open for the fall 2019 session of “The Woods in Your Backyard” online course. This self-paced, non-credit course runs 10 weeks from Sept. 4 to Nov. 19.

The course will help landowners convert lawn to natural areas and enhance stewardship of existing natural areas. The course provides strategies to landowners of small parcels of land that improve the stewardship of their property for personal enjoyment and environmental quality. It uses a hands-on learning approach to help participants develop and implement a plan for their property. Activities include how to map habitat areas, understand basic ecological principles about woodland and wildlife, choose and implement a few habitat management projects, and how to set a timetable and record your progress. Online discussion groups will allow participants to interact with others taking the course.

A certificate of completion is awarded when all assignments are completed.

The course costs $95 per person, which includes the 108-page “Woods in Your Backyard” guide, workbook and a tree identification guide. The course is limited to 25 participants. Registration closes Sept. 9 or when filled. Registration is through Eventbrite; visit wiyb_online_s7.eventbrite.com/.

For more information, visit extension.umd.edu/woodland/woods-your-backyard/online-course or contact course coordinator Andrew Kling, University of Maryland, at akling1@umd.edu or 301-432-2767, ext. 307.

Hurricanes and dementia don’t mix well

While hurricanes can have a significant impact on everyone’s safety, they can be especially stressful and confusing for individuals with dementia. Being prepared and planning ahead can prevent injuries and help a person living with the disease feel more relaxed and less overwhelmed.

September is peak hurricane season in the United States. The Alzheimer’s Association offers these tips for families and caregivers to consider in advance and during a hurricane evacuation to help individuals living with dementia:

• Plan ahead. Make a comprehensive safety plan in the event of an evacuation. If the person lives in a residential facility, learn about its evacuation plan and who is responsible for evacuating the person in the event of an emergency.

• Leave early. If the need to evacuate is likely, do not delay. Long car rides can increase anxiety for people living with dementia. Leave as early as possible to minimize delays in traffic.

• Remain calm. Keeping emotions in check can help establish a positive tone and minimize stress for people with dementia.

• Stay close. Do not leave the person with dementia alone. Changes in routine, traveling and new environments may increase the risk for wandering.

• Alert others to the diagnosis. When appropriate, share the diagnosis with others, such as first responders, hotel or shelter staff, so they can better assist.

USDA looking to help ag businesses lower energy costs

Acting assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley is encouraging farmers, rural small businesses and agricultural producers to apply for financing in a key U.S. Department of Agriculture program that provides loan guarantees to help rural small businesses lower their energy costs, according to a USDA news release.

USDA accepts applications for REAP funding year-round. Potential applicants should contact their state USDA Rural Development office for additional information.

REAP funding can be used for renewable energy systems such as anaerobic digesters, biomass, geothermal, hydropower, wind and solar. It also can be used to make energy efficiency improvements to heating, ventilation and cooling systems; insulation; and lighting and refrigeration. Below are some examples of USDA’s REAP investments.

Edgehill Farms, an ag tourism center in Oakland, Ky., received a $34,596 loan guarantee to install a 34.8-kilowatt photovoltaic array system on the roof of its ham processing facility. The system will generate approximately 45,000 kilowatt hours annually that will be sold directly to the local utility, earning $4,448 for the firm annually.

In Magnolia, N.C., Optima KV received a $6.5 million loan guarantee for an anaerobic digester that will help hog producers dispose of waste by converting it to energy. The project aggregates multiple biogas streams at a refinery. The resulting natural gas is then transported via pipeline to a power plant to generate electricity. The digester produces additional revenue for hog producers and a cleaner environment.

In April 2017, the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity was established to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, the task force’s findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Supporting the rural workforce was a cornerstone recommendation of the task force.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

CSM introduces 7-week evening mini-terms

The College of Southern Maryland is meeting the needs of today’s busy students by launching accelerated classes for most evening classes this fall, according to a college news release. This new student success initiative builds on students’ abilities to retain greater information within shorter structured time periods. In addition, CSM will offer the entire business management associate in applied science degree program in an accelerated schedule making it possible for students to complete their business management degree in 18 months.

Capitalizing on research that shows there are greater benefits in learning outcomes for students, especially working adults, CSM is shifting most courses meeting after 5 p.m. to seven-week mini-term classes. Evening classes draw the largest number of working adult students and the condensed format maximizes students’ time in coursework, allowing students to complete a degree program in about 18 months, according to CSM Vice President of Academic Affairs Eileen Abel.

“Research shows that students who accumulate more time learning a subject within a shorter period of time learn better,” Abel said. “They are able to retain more of the information. We also know from national data that this kind of acceleration allows students to focus on one or two courses at a time, allowing the student to balance other responsibilities while still being able to complete credit hours toward the educational goal.”

Most of the courses are offered in a hybrid format which combines the traditional face-to-face class contact twice a week with the remainder of the week’s coursework completed online.

The accelerated business management degree program will offer three courses at a time in a seven-week mini-session term. In the fall, students will attend classes face-to-face on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at the La Plata Campus from 5:45 to 8:35 p.m. while also taking one course on the web. In the spring, classes meet Monday and Wednesday evenings, with one course on the web.

This degree program prepares students who are currently employed as well as those without prior work experience to develop the skills required of managers in a variety of business settings. Beginning courses expand the students’ skills in a number of disciplines, while upper-level courses and electives allow students to specialize to suit their career plans. The electives are pre-selected for students in the accelerated format.

Offering robust course options in mini-terms is a best practice of the college’s Guided Pathways design. Additionally, this model mirrors similarly successful accelerated formats that are offered at CSM’s partnering transfer institutions, such as UMUC, Southern New Hampshire University, Odessa College, Morgan State and others.

To learn more, visit the CSM online catalog at catalog.csmd.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=23&poid=4077&hl=business+management&returnto=search.

CSM will hold an open house on the La Plata campus from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 13 in the Fine Arts Center Theater, at 8730 Mitchell Road in La Plata. Visitors can learn how to get started at CSM with less debt, meet faculty, learn about financial aid and scholarships, receive transfer information, talk to current CSM students and find out about athletics and other CSM clubs and organizations. This event is free. For more information, visit www.csmd.edu/apply-register/credit/campus-open-house-tours/.

Md. School for the Blind appoints new principal

The Maryland School for the Blind recently appointed Nicholas Pagani as its new principal of the General Academic Program, according to a press release from the school.

Pagani has been on the staff at the school for six years as a teacher of the visually impaired before being promoted to an assistant principal in 2015. He received a bachelor of science in special education from Northern University in Illinois in 2005 and a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration from Capella University in Minnesota in 2014.

In addition to holding teaching and administrative positions at MSB, Pagani has taught students who are blind or visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities at the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind and the Philip Rock Center and School and the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind in Illinois. He and his family currently reside in Parkville.

The Maryland School for the Blind is a private, statewide resource center providing outreach, education and residential programs to children and youth from infancy to age 21 who are blind or visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities. Annually, the school serves 65% of the 2,000 students identified in Maryland who are blind or visually impaired from all 24 Maryland jurisdictions through its on-campus and outreach programs.

For more information, contact Dotty Raynor at 410-319-5722, dottyr@mdschblind.org, or visit www.marylandschoolfortheblind.org.

CyberTrip Advisor gives top tech travel tips

Family trips are in with summer in full swing. In fact, nearly two-thirds of American families will head out of town this summer. Theme parks, cruises and international travel top the 2019 summer travel list. As everyone knows, no matter where you’re headed — a new or familiar location — being continuously connected is part of the plan. While having family fun is the goal, the National Cyber Security Alliance also urges travelers to be cyber safe while away from home by following some simple practices to help keep your devices safe and your vacation plans from going awry.

Misplacing or having devices stolen can put a damper on vacation plans. It can easily happen to anyone.

• Set up the “find my phone” feature on your devices. This will allow you to find, remotely wipe data and/or disable the device if it gets into the wrong hands.

• Make sure all devices are password protected. Use a passcode or security feature (like a finger swipe) to lock your phone or mobile device in case either are misplaced or stolen.

Get Wise About Public Wi-Fi: Using public Wi-Fi at the airport or hotel is very convenient, but wireless networks and hotspots are not secure. This means that anyone using the same Wi-Fi network could potentially see what you are doing on your laptop or smartphone while you are connected.

• Limit what you do on public Wi-Fi and avoid logging in to accounts that have sensitive information such as banking and email.

• Consider using a trusted virtual private network or a personal/mobile hotspot if you need a more secure connection.

• Set your device settings to ask permission before connecting to a Wi-Fi network.

Be in the know about how to secure your continuously connected life by signing up for NCSA’s newsletters at staysafeonline.org/email-signup/.