Photos from the March 30, 2019 Annual Meeting

(Photos by Kathy Haurand)

Terry and Karen
Treasurers Report
Connor Tadlock and family
Dr. Rowan Lockwood
Va Marine Resources
Volunteer sign up
VA Dept. of Health
Riley Tripp and family
Writing Winners and Judges
Jennifer Beckensteiner
Brennan Lane
Vic and Lindsay Cooper
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Revamped TOGA Annual Meeting set for March 30, 2019, at VIMS Gloucester Point

This year’s annual meeting has been modified based on comments we received in a survey conducted last fall by our VIMS Advisor Karen Hudson. We thought the student writing contest finalists would enjoy getting their readings out of the way early. We will be selling TOGA floats and apparel and affording one-on-one learning opportunities. We will also describe our learning opportunities throughout the year.

All are welcome; membership not required to attend. You are not required to sign in, but we would like you to wear one of the name tags provided. Membership dues will be accepted at the event but not required.


1:00 –2:00 pm       Check-in, meet with agency representatives (Virginia Marine Resources Commission and Virginia Department of Health), shop TOGA merchandise, and informal Q&A with experienced Master Oyster Gardeners

1:30 – 2:00 pm      TOGA’s Middle School Writing Contest readings and winner presentations

2:00 – 2:15 pm      BREAK with light refreshments


2:15 – 3:00 pm       TOGA Business and Exciting News from Virginia’s General Assembly by Brennan Lane


3:00 – 4:00 pm       Education Session


4:00 – 5:00 pm       Refreshments


TOGA Sales

TOGA oyster floats and apparel will be available from 1pm to 2pm and after the education session. To be sure to get the float you want, you may order ahead of time with the form at the end of this newsletter. You may also order by email to Vic Spain ( if you provide all of the information asked for on the order form. Finally, you may just shop for on-hand inventory. We accept cash or checks but not credit cards. (There will be another TOGA float sale June 22 in Deltaville, see article below.)

Build-your-own float workdays for the spring have not been determined at this writing. If you are interested, please contact Vic Spain at, or 804 642-6764.

TOGA Business

During the business portion of the agenda, Treasurer Charles Yarbrough will review TOGA's finances and present a top-level budget for 2019. President Terry Lewis will briefly review 2018 accomplishments and plans for next year. Then Mike Sanders will conduct the election of officers for 2019. Finally, the TOGA President will present the proposed bylaw amendments.


The Board has recommended the following slate:

President: Terry Lewis

Vice President: Brian Wood

Treasurer: Charles Yarbrough

Secretary: Brian Ingram

At-Large Board Members: Robert Morgan, Louis Castagnola, Klaus Boese, Terry Halkyard


Past President: Mike Sanders (not elected)


President Emeritus/Engineer: Vic Spain (not elected)


VIMS Liaison: Karen Hudson (not elected)


Retiring Board Members


Jennifer Palazzo- Jennifer has served on the Board for three years and as Secretary for the last year. Her experience as a commercial oyster grower has been very beneficial. Jennifer’s comment- “I'd like to go in a quiet way, because “I'm not really going. “

We are happy that Jennifer will remain active as a volunteer.


Jackie Partin, President Emeritus- As you know, Jackie is the primary TOGA founder and the inspiration to many Virginia oyster gardeners as well as professionals at VIMS and VMRC. Most of the great ideas like the original bylaws, acquiring non-profit status, the Master Oyster Gardener program, acquiring grants from the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund, the float-building workshops and the oyster tastings came from Jackie. Jackie’s vision for TOGA has worked and never faded. In 2012 she was honored in the naming of the TOGA/VIMS Student Endowment. She is the lifeblood of TOGA and remains a valued advisor.


Additional candidates may be nominated by any TOGA member.


By Law Amendments

Article II: Membership and Dues



Section 3. The organization shall have at least one annual membership meeting. Annual membership meeting dates and venues will be decided by the Board and will usually be held in winter or early spring.


Article III: Organization, Election and Duties

Section 1. Office and Term of Office


OLD - as amended January 24, 2015

b. The term of office for all officers shall be for one calendar year beginning at the annual meeting and concluding at the following annual meeting. The annual meeting will be the first meeting of the calendar year.



b. The term of office for all officers and board members shall be for one year beginning on the date of the annual membership meeting and concluding on the date of the next annual membership meeting.



c. President Emeritus or Director Emeritus status may be bestowed on past or present presidents or directors who have given above and beyond normal expectations to the organization. Such status is proposed by the Board and an individual can be elected to such a position at the annual membership meeting. Once elected, these individuals maintain voting rights on the Board for life.


Section 2. Elections



Elections will be conducted at the last meeting of the year.



Elections will be conducted at the annual membership meeting.



Education Session

TOGA/VIMS Student Endowment Recipient for 2018-2019, Jennifer Beckensteiner, PhD student at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Greetings! My name is Jennifer Beckensteiner and I am a PhD student at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. I work with Dr. Andrew Scheld from the Fisheries Science Department and Dr. David Kaplan from UMR Marbec (France) on marine spatial management and the effectiveness of property rights for fisheries and aquaculture management. Specifically, my research involves identifying potential challenges or inadequacies related with Territorial User Rights for Fisheries for the effective management of benthic resources in Chile and in Virginia.

Current oyster production in Virginia is a fraction of what it was a century ago due to overfishing, habitat destruction, disease, and pollution. Exclusive access rights such as leased areas are a tool used frequently in management of shellfish beds that has been considered successful at increasing oyster yields. In the last decade, Virginia has seen a significant increase in leased area, leading to what is currently the largest amount of area leased since the system began more than 100 years ago. However, current production is just 5% of its maximum historical level and only a small fraction of leased areas (18%) have reported oyster harvest in 2016 (about 30% over the 10 last years). Though in theory, private leases in Virginia must be used for oyster production, in practice, they can be held for other reasons, such as speculation or intentional exclusion of others. The information generated through this research will clarify current trends in leased area use and productivity, as well as determine what factors limit current and future industry growth and productive use of leased grounds.

--Jennifer Beckensteiner


Keynote Speaker, Dr. Rowan Lockwood, Professor of Geology at the College of William & Mary

Abstract: The fossil record provides abundant information on past extinctions that can help predict biotic response to environmental change and provide a baseline for restoration. This approach, known as conservation paleobiology, makes it possible to gain a long-term perspective on modern ecosystems.  Dr. Lockwood will present a case study where she and colleagues establish a baseline for oysters in the Chesapeake Bay region, which have declined precipitously in recent centuries due to disease, pollution, and overharvesting. By examining the age distribution, oyster growth rates, population densities, and paleoenvironment of Pleistocene fossil assem-blages, a clearer picture of oyster reefs before human disturbance can be established, which in turn can provide a baseline for modern remediation.

Research Interests: The overall goal of Dr. Lockwood's research is to understand how extinction and environmental change influence the evolution and ecology of fossil marine invertebrates. Her research interests are broad and range from the influence of the K/T mass extinction on bivalve evolution, and to the taphonomy and historical ecology of Holocene benthic mollusks in the Chesapeake Bay, to the effects of early Cenozoic global climate change during the early Cenozoic on venericard bivalves along the Gulf Coastal Plain.

Please see Dr. Lockwood’s website for more information:


After the meeting adjourns, we'll have time for some excellent food and camaraderie. Please bring a dish to share. Various oyster dishes are most welcome, but finger foods and desserts are also needed. On behalf of the TOGA Board, we very much look forward to seeing you and hope you'll join us at this special meeting.

Photos from the Jan 13, 2018 Annual Meeting

Educational Speakers-

TOGA/VIMS Endowment Recipent Joey Matt and VIMS Shellfish Specilaist Karen Hudson

Student Essay Contest Winners and Judges

L to R: Judges Bobby Morgan, Sue Morgan, Writers: Hudson McMinn (3d place),

Sydney McClelland (2d place), John Broccoletti (3d place), Brennan Lane (1st place),

Jennifer Dixon of Sponsor Peoples Community Bank, Judge Terry Lewis

Judges not shown- Ann Wood, Brian Wood, Mary Ann Lewis