Jay Fergusonjay@deepcreekvacations.com301-501-0420

‘Outdoors Maryland’ creator celebrates show’s 25th year

Glenn Tolbert talks origins, crews, more

Michael A. Sawyers Cumberland Times-News

OAKLAND — As “Outdoors Maryland” celebrates its 25th year on Maryland Public Television, the Oakland resident who launched the series in 1988 met with the Times-News Thursday to recall the early days and salute the heights to which the show has risen.

After more than 700 shows, “Outdoors Maryland” has won 37 Emmy Awards and is currently nominated for two more.

“I had watched a show called ‘Outdoors Arkansas,’ and I liked it and I knew that we could do it even better in Maryland,” said Glenn Tolbert, then employed by MPT and living in Owings Mills. “But it would be expensive and first I had to sell the idea of producing a one-hour pilot.”

Tolbert said he was somewhat surprised when Department of Natural Resources gave him and MPT an immediate green light and the necessary money.

“I got out a map, picked various regions of the state and started to choose stories and locations. I had never even been to Garrett or Allegany counties, so that took some research.”

Tolbert’s research was of the on-the-ground, up-close-and-personal variety. He had beer money and he put it to work.

“I went to restaurants and bars in the two counties and asked local people what they did in the outdoors and where they did (it). And, yes, some of the money was used to purchase liquid incentive so people would provide me with the information I needed.”

The pilot show was an unqualified success, according to Tolbert.

“It opened with a float on the Pocomoke River and closed with bears in Garrett County. The other parts of Maryland filled in the middle.”

Tolbert said the premiere of the pilot show was watched by Gov. William Donald Schaefer and lady-friend Hilda Mae Snoops. Also in attendance were various elected state officials and numerous staff from state agencies.

“When it was over there was rousing applause and we were on our way,” Tolbert said.

Tolbert produced the show for 10 years. His approach was a natural one.

“We used music if it was needed, but I’d rather let viewers hear the birds chirp or the river babble. My goal was to have viewers see and hear Maryland’s outdoors, to love it and treat it with sacred tenderness.”

Tolbert said he felt good about the fallout from the show. “People would see a show about Garrett County and say ‘Oh, wow. You mean that’s in Maryland?’”

Tolbert said he felt bad about the fallout from the show. “I have always been concerned that the show brought more people to Western Maryland and somehow lessened the quality of the outdoor experience.”

“Outdoors Maryland,” which airs on Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m., was originally produced by Tolbert using a film crew of three.

“Comparing the equipment from then to now is crazy,” he said. “Our recording unit was in a large, heavy box that it took one person to carry. We would hook it to the camera with a long cord.”

Tolbert said his crew was “unbelievable.”

“We couldn’t afford a helicopter so one of them would climb the highest tree to get an aerial shot. They’d cross rivers, whatever it took.”

During filming, Tolbert found himself in some difficult positions, including flat on his back in the Little Youghiogheny River after slipping and falling.

“Walking in that river was like stepping on buttered rocks,” he said.

Another time he got caught in a severe lightning storm on the Eastern Shore as a nearby tree was struck.

Tolbert said he hopes that his work and the efforts of those now producing “Outdoors Maryland” create not only an enjoyment of the state’s natural landscape, but a reverence for it. He said he always enjoyed working with employees of the Department of Natural Resources and always sought out the most enthusiastic individuals for interviews.

“Most of them love what they do,” he said.

Tolbert, originally from El Paso, Texas, said he had envisioned the East as pretty much paved over and was thrilled when he discovered its natural beauty.

“I have always been fascinated by the mystery of nature,” he said. “You know, you see the trees in the forest and the different shades of light between them off into the distance and you want to go there, to feel it, to see it, to try to understand it. I wanted that to be ‘Outdoors Maryland’ and I wanted to take the viewers with me into the different shades of light.”

Tolbert said he sees that the show’s current staff is continuing the program in that spirit.

Asked to detail the parts of Maryland and the outdoor activities he and his crew exposed to viewers during his decade with the program, Tolbert paused.

“I can’t think of anything we missed,” he said.

Contact Michael A. Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com.

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Jay Ferguson

Who I Am My name is Jay Ferguson, and I am a lifelong resident of the Deep Creek Lake area. I am also co-owner of the real estate side of Taylor Made. I have been in the real estate business for 21+ years now and I LOVE what I do! I have to say, my career really took off when I co-founded the real estate side of Taylor Made in 2014. Its been an amazing experience, building a real estate company from the ground up and achieving so much so quickly! In August 2016, we purchased Long & Foster Real Estate Deep Creek, where I had started my career in 2000. In 2018, we on-boarded virtually every agent from Coldwell Banker Deep Creek Realty as they closed up shop and the real estate family grew even more! We now have over 40 sales agents and have expanded to West Virginia and Pennsylvania, as well. Taylor Made is the #1 vacation rental company at Deep Creek with over 475 vacation rental homes, and over one hundred thousand yearly visitors. Its amazing what we have accomplished using the principles of honesty, teamwork and customer service! Personally, my wife Jessica and I enjoy traveling and especially spending time in the outdoors, hiking and exploring the many diverse areas that Garrett County is naturally blessed with. We have raised two wonderful children here, Kayleah (22) and Noah (13). In the summer, we love spending time on the water with friends & family and enjoying the lake life! We are both active in our church, our community & local school activities, and we fill our schedule with plenty of volunteer efforts. I currently serve on the board of directors for Habitat for Humanity. I am proud to say that I was named Deep Creek Time’s Favorite ‘Community Champion’ in 2019. I was also named Garrett County Realtor of the Year in 2018-19, as well. I really enjoy promoting my hometown. I am very proud of the resort area that has developed over my lifetime and look forward to growing the area even more! Deep Creek Lake has been described as ‘The Lake Tahoe of the east', and I think that speaks volumes about the potential to own property here! Deep Creek Lake isn't really a town or city by itself; it's comprised of three towns: Oakland, Swanton & McHenry, Maryland. I am very passionate about my hometown and am impressed with how many people know about it as we travel around the country. Deep Creek Lake is an amazing place to visit and even better place to live! During the pandemic in 2020, our market exploded and more and more people left their primary residence in the city to live here permanently. With distance learning in schools and tele-commuting becoming the ‘norm’, many more people were drawn to the area to ‘live where they love to play’. Why You Want Me Working for You: In addition to being an owner, I am consistently one of the top-producing agents in the entire area and the Associate Broker of record for Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations & Sales. I have 21+ years of experience and I am a problem solver. There aren’t many situations that I have not encountered and I have a strategy for almost every scenario that you may encounter. I have extensively trained in all areas of real estate & emerging technologies, and also have trained as an appraiser, as well as served as a full-time Broker. I have a strong knowledge of the industry, as well as many trusted local contacts & affiliations that allow me to perform at a very high level and deliver results. I have a great deal of respect for my peers in this industry and have strong working relationships that I would love to put to work for you. Call me to discuss your situation - I know I can be of great service to you & others you care about! Honesty. Integrity. Results.