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Talbot Watermen Association Gives Back. Awards Five $1,000 Scholarships to Talbot County Graduates

St Michaels High School Awards Night: left to right, Bailey Blades, Joe Spurry Jr., Abbie Kemp.
Easton High School Awards Night: left to right, Debbie Gardner, Grace Foster, Kylie Weems.

EASTON — Talbot Watermen Association is dedicated to protecting the rights of watermen and giving back to community based organizations. Since 2015, the association has contributed a total of $98,210, including $31,500 in scholarships and donations to many local organizations, Talbot County fire departments and watermen in need. Two scholarships, The Wendel Lednum Memorial Scholarship and The Aaron Correa Memorial Scholarship, were created in honor of past members who had a significant impact on our organization.

Captain Wendell Lednum, former Vice President and founder of Talbot Watermen Association.

The first is The Wendell Lednum Memorial Scholarship that goes to the student who has a family member that works on the water or supports the needs of our local watermen. Wendell was our first Vice President who lost his life to terminal cancer. He was one of the founders of our organization back in 2009, when we lost 50% of our most productive oyster bottom to three major sanctuaries in Talbot County. The public fishery was forced out of these oyster grounds where many generations of watermen had spent money to plant every Spring. The State of Maryland used the sanctuaries to create new leases for aquaculture oyster farmers only. Wendell knew then that the watermen needed to band together to advocate for the public fishery.

The Wendell Lednum Memorial Scholarship award winner for St. Michaels High School is Bailey Blades. Bailey Blades is the daughter of third generation watermen, Captain Bert Blades ,and grew up in the watermen village of Bozman, Maryland. In her essay, she wrote, “I have always been surrounded by watermen and they are some of the most hardworking people that you will ever meet and I have been fortunate enough to have many of them in my life”. Bailey is enrolled in Chesapeake College’s Paramedic program to receive her Paramedic Degree while working towards becoming a Registered Nurse.

The Wendell Lednum Memorial Scholarship winner for Easton High School is Kylie Weems. Kylie Weems is the fourth generation of the Weems Marine Construction family. In her essay, Kylie wrote, “...working with my family’s business has given me the chance to understand what the Chesapeake Bay does for so many people and helped me figure out that I want to give back to the community and the environment that provided for me”. Kylie Weems will be attending East Carolina University this fall majoring in Environmental Engineering.

The second is The Talbot Watermen Association Scholarship. The recipient of this scholarship is chosen from all students in the class who may or may not be from a waterman/waterwoman family. This scholarship is based on achievement and the essay written by the student. The Talbot Watermen Association Scholarship award winner for St. Michaels High School is Abbie Kemp. Abbie Kemp comes from a long line of watermen. In her essay she wrote, “As my dad always says, “ ‘The effort you put in is what you get out.’ These traditions have helped form me to be the person I am today who understands diligence and the meaning of grit”. Abbie will be attending the University of Maryland College Park working towards her dream of becoming a Shock Trauma Doctor for R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Talbot Watermen Association Scholarship winner for Easton High School is Grace Foster. For six years, Grace Foster has been a Year-Round Volunteer for the Waterfowl Foundation, an organization promoting wildlife conservation. In her essay Grace wrote, “Within my area of study, I hope to not only improve the environment but also discover solutions for improvement in the future.” She will be attending the University of Vermont this fall majoring in Biology with a minor in environmental science.

Captain Aaron Correa, Talbot Watermen Assoc. Member
Aaron Correa Memorial Scholarship presentation; left to right, Brice Correa, JC Correa, Bailey Blades, Debbie Correa

A third scholarship is the Aaron Correa Memorial Scholarship. The Correa Family raises money for this scholarship and selects a student that has given great support to our community. Aaron Correa passed away in December of 2021 at the age of 43 from cancer complicated with COVID virus. He was a waterman who was very active in our community. Not only was he a member of Talbot Watermen Association but also a firefighter member of both St. Michaels and Tilghman Fire Departments. Aaron never missed a chance to help with protests organized by the watermen. His natural wit and knowledge of the water helped get us through some tough times.

This year’s Aaron Correa Memorial Scholarship winner is Bailey Blades from St. Michaels High School. Bailey is also a member of the St. Michaels Volunteer Fire Department where she received “Rookie of the Year Award (2021)” and “Top Responder Award (2022)”. At the time of her application, Bailey had a total of 666 community hours of service. And, she completed her Certified Nursing Assistant, FireFighter One, Hazmat Operations and EMT before graduating high school.

Special thanks to Chesapeake Landing Restaurant, The Lumberyard, and Wittman Wharf Seafood for collecting donations for our yearly scholarship program. Also, thank you to everyone who attends our Annual Watermen’s Appreciation Day at Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum which features a “Watermen’s Rodeo” boat docking contest, crab feast, children’s activities and silent auction. The proceeds from this event are a major part of our community contributions. This year’s event will be held on Sunday, August 13th. For more information, visit


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