For Sherrod Sturrock, the retiring director of the Calvert Marine Museum, as she takes stock of her career, time flies by quickly.
“Time flies, and I can’t say that I ever thought that I would spend that much time here, or have a career in county government,” Shurrock said. “When I first started in finance, I had been moving around a lot, New York, Chicago, and different places. I turned 40 the first year I worked here, and it just blows my mind that I’m approaching 70 and I’ve been here for all these years.”
Shurrock will retire this week from her position at the museum after serving 29 years in county government.
She spent 14 years as the capital projects coordinator, before moving to the museum where she served as the deputy director for 11 years before replacing Dave Alves as director in 2016.
“My first job [for Calvert County government] was as capital projects coordinator,” Shurrock said. “I was only the fourth capital projects coordinator, and none of the first three had lasted a year because they didn’t know what the job was. The irony is neither did I. I had no clue what to do, but I had the skills to figure it out. I ended up being there for almost 15 years.”
During her tenure as coordinator, Sturrock oversaw a variety of projects come to fruition, from county signs to the design of the new county seal.
“I enjoyed the variety. I enjoyed working with people across the county government and in the community. I was never bored. There is a great deal of satisfaction in going through the county and knowing that I had something to do with putting up those county entrance signs. I oversaw the designing of the new seal. All of these things that I touched. It was exciting.”
While those achievements are very notable, Sturrock didn’t do it for the glory or getting to say that she had a hand in those events.
“None of that matters, [What matters is] feeling like you made a difference,” she said “You left a place better than when you found it, and you made a contribution. People at the museum keep saying that you should have something named after you. I said absolutely not. It is the last thing [I would want]. I am someone that can get things done.
“That is what they should put on my gravestone. She is someone that can get things done, and that has been my big skill.”
She has got things done as part of her time at the museum, and incoming director Jeffery Murray agrees.
“She had a relatively short tenure here as director of the museum, but she was deputy for 11 years,” Murray said. “In that time as deputy director and head of education, she grew the education program fourfold. It is an astrological number. She has been a fantastic person to have in a leadership position.
“The things that she wanted to accomplish while she was here as director, she got done. We got the Benning Education Center, which the complete renovation of our second story of the exhibition hall into new education classrooms and office spaces. She got that done. She got two roofs put on both of our big buildings. She was instrumental in bringing our skipjack the Dee of St. Mary’s here in 2013, she was deputy at that time. She knew that bringing that over here would be a big boon to education. It has been. We take kids out on the boat. We call it our Chesapeake Bay Field Lab program. I can not say enough about Sherrod Sturrock. She has been a tremendous mentor to myself. She has done a great job. She is also a fabulous person.”
The list of her tangible accomplishment is impressive, even more impressive considering she was director for three years, but for Sturrock, it is the intangible one that she is most proud of instilling at the museum.
“I would say that it was creating an organizational culture where people are committed, dedicated, invested, and understand it is a total team approach from top to bottom, including director, curator, volunteer, everybody,” she said. “I think instilling that and broadening that out and envisioning the museum as a community center. We want people to feel like if this museum disappeared that their lives would be so much less.
“We want them to feel that we are an important part of their quality of life. You don’t do that by sitting in a bubble. You do that by reaching out and pulling in. While these things are important and exciting, it is the whole that is important.”
In a time where a lot of museums across the nation are having trouble with funding or drawing the community to the museums themselves, the Calvert Marine Museum is the exception.
“Museums are struggling across the country. The ones that are successful, outside the big blockbuster museums, are the ones that built a community that people do have ownership and investment in. I like the word synergy, where the whole is greater than its parts. I feel that really happens every day at the museum.
“The museum is just such a remarkable place. We are getting ready to celebrate 50 years, and we have essentially complete two masterplans. It was time for a new vision.
“We had acquired two new pieces of property. We were beginning to re-envision the future the museum would have.
“We went through this dynamic process of a new site, masterplan. Now Jeff (Murray), will follow that with a strategic plan which will look more at the inside of the building.
“The site masterplan is so sweeping. It is so exciting. The whole paleontology center and being designated the state paleontology center. It is good stuff. I am excited to have been a part of that.”
For Sturrock, now felt like the right time to wrap her time at the museum and her near 30 years in Calvert County government service, although she is still on the board of the Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum.
“It feels like the right time for me. It feels like the right time for the [marine] museum. I’m thrilled that Jeff is there to step right in. I got places to go and things to see. I just got my Russian visa. I’m going to St. Petersburg. My husband and I are traveling. It is good. You just never know what is going to happen, and I want to go and do different things.”