Vol. XXXI, No. 3
In This IssueWHAT'S HAPPENING?
Trash Free Potomac River Watershed Initiative
The Alice Ferguson Foundation was established in 1954 as a nonprofit organization chartered in the state of Maryland. AFF's mission is "to provide experiences that encourage connections between people, the natural environment, farming, and the cultural heritage of the Potomac River Watershed, leading to personal environmental responsibility."
Calendar of Events
Board of Directors
An Easy Way to Make Donations!
The Alice Ferguson Foundation has been approved once again for participation in the United Way of the National Capital Area (UWNCA) and the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). Our United Way code is #8083 and our CFC code is #62564.Please consider us!
Just as the blooms of spring come to fruition in the fields as summer begins, so have the seeds of opportunity come to fruition for many of our AFF programs. We have received important support for our Potomac Watershed Study Center living building project from Prince George's County. The grant from the county will give a much needed boost to this capital campaign effort and help us fulfill our dream of providing state:of:the:art facilities for the students who visit our Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center. And our programs are also bearing the seeds of recognition! At this week's DC Chamber of Commerce Champions reception we were selected as Nonprofit of the Year. And recently our Bridging the Watershed program received the Prince William County Public Schools 2011 Business Partnership of the Year award. Read on to get details of the recent National Garden Club awards that were showered on Fergie's Gardeners!
OUR BOARD MEMBERS AND STAFF
New at the Helm of AFF
What a privilege it is to be a part of the Alice Ferguson Foundation (AFF) team and the incredible legacy left by Alice and Henry Ferguson! I am just eight weeks into my new role as Executive Director here at AFF and I can honestly say that every day has held a new set of delightful experiences and opportunities. Before I officially started I had the chance to quite literally get my feet wet by participating in our 23rd Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup. I was able to join a wonderful team of people from Kohl's Department store and we all got so engrossed in picking up the vast amount of trash on the shoreline near Hard Bargain Farm on April 9th (See TFPWI's update for data on the Cleanup so far) that we experienced the tidal Potomac in action as it washed away the little bridge we had built across an inlet!
I was also able to meet a few dozen of AFF's most devoted friends during our annual membership meeting on April 15th. We have hosted several events at Hard Bargain Farm in the short time I have been onboard, including a reception for our Prince George's County Councilman Mel Franklin and our annual Spring Farm Festival. The effervescent spirit of the Fergusons was evident on all of these occasions. And I'm sure Alice would have been pleased to know that her beloved Hard Bargain Farm was included as one of the six stops on the Prince George's County portion of the annual Maryland Home and Garden Pilgrimage. Our amazing Fergie's Gardeners and other dedicated volunteers made sure the house and gardens were in top shape for the hundreds of visitors who joined us on May 22nd for this exciting event. Thanks to all of the volunteers and staff who worked so hard to make each of these events such a big success.
AFF's mission of providing experiences that encourage connections between people, the natural environment, farming and the cultural heritage of the Potomac River Watershed is evident in all of our programs. It has been a pleasure to see the many ways in which our goal of encouraging personal environmental responsibility is realized. I was able to join a high:school class as they experienced our Bridging the Watershed program in Rock Creek Park as part of our partnership with the National Park Service. And the smiles of the students who come to Hard Bargain Farm, sparked by meeting our farm animals, splashing along the shores of the Potomac, and of course rolling down the hill is a daily joy and inspiration.
It is often said that we stand on the shoulders of giants and I am particularly mindful of that as I take on this new role. I am grateful to the visionary leadership of those who have come before me: Bernie Wareham, Kay Powell and Tracy Bowen. And of course to Alice and Henry Ferguson who continue to inspire all of us today. I look forward to the path ahead and to traveling it with all of you.
Rosalie M. LaMonica, Director of Development
Rosalie LaMonica joins the Alice Ferguson Foundation to serve as Director of Development. She is responsible for building a comprehensive development program with her staff, and managing a building campaign to raise funds for the Potomac Watershed Study Center. The Center is intended to be an adventurous, "beyond green" multi:million dollar environmental education facility at Hard Bargain Farm.
During her more than 25 years of experience working as a development professional, Rosalie has focused her career in education, health and the arts. Starting her career in financial services, she entered fundraising as the Director of Planned Giving for The Catholic University of America. Rosalie gained capital campaign experience while working on the successful $40 million dollar capital project at the Georgetown University Medical Center, raising funds for the Lombardi Cancer Center to build a research facility and reconfigure the clinical space.
While working in all areas of the development profession, Rosalie has extensive experience in major gifts as well as integrating gift:planning strategies into overall fundraising programs. She has enjoyed leadership roles on campaigns to build a 14,000 sq. ft. library and a 45,000 sq. ft. performing arts center for an independent school. Most recently, Rosalie served as Director of Development for the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences at the University of Maryland College Park, meeting annual goals during the economic downturn for UMD's $1 Billion Great Expectations Campaign.
Rosalie serves as a member of the Executive Board of the Center for American Politics and Citizenship as well as on the Board of the Cherry Children's Music Outreach Nonprofit Organization. She volunteers with 826DC, an organization dedicated to supporting students with their creative writing skills. For more that fifteen years, Rosalie has been an active member of Hexagon, Inc., a nonprofit organization that annually produces an original, political, satirical, musical revue and donates the proceeds to charity.
Bridging the Watershed Program Director Jeanne Troy Bids a Final Goodbye
After four:and:a:half years with the Alice Ferguson Foundation, Bridging the Watershed program director Jeanne Troy has left for a position with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). In two separate stints at AFF, Jeanne helped build BTW into a regionally renowned, award:winning program that provides thousands of middle: and secondary:school students with meaningful watershed experiences every year.
Jeanne also devoted her considerable and seemingly endless energy into all aspects of AFF, tirelessly seeking new sources of funding, writing grants, creating new partnerships, and strengthening AFF's reputation as a leading environmental education organization. We are saddened to lose such a valuable and knowledgeable member of the AFF family, but we wish Jeanne the best of luck in her new role as Program Officer for the Marian Koshland Science Museum of the NAS. Jeanne will be leading program development and implementation for the museum.
Jeanne's shoes will be temporarily filled by field study coordinator Katrina Fauss:a skilled veteran BTW educator.
The National Garden Club installed our own garden club member Shirley Nicolai as President of the national organization at its annual convention May 29. Shirley is a great supporter of the Alice Ferguson Foundation and has served as a committee and Board member for many years. She launched AFF's garden club "Fergie's Gardeners" in 2003, and it's still going strong.
Congratulations Shirley! We are proud of you.
HARD BARGAIN FARM
Spring growth seemed late in starting, but when it did, it was rapid. Hay cutting began a month later than usual and the quality is fine. Most hay fields and pastures were limed in March which made a noticeable difference in the growth of many grasses. Nutrients in the soil are more available to plants when the pH is right. In this area, lime is needed every three to five years. Yes, our rain is acid and the acidity accumulates.
Two new chicken tractors were completed and are in use. One contains our latest group of broilers, and the other is home to fifteen young pullets, the future egg layers. These upside:down cages allow the chickens to help themselves to fresh grass and a few insects each day in addition to the traditional chicken feed.
The barnyard boasts two new kid goats, a bunch of chicks, and soon (August) a much anticipated Jersey/Angus calf, offspring of Annie and Sir Loin will join the crowd. Beef calves arrive throughout the year. Our herd has all sizes at all times—the newest is three weeks old.
Every year before our Spring Farm Festival, staff starts collecting local animals to have on hand at the touch tank. This year we had an Eastern rat snake, about 4: 5 feet long. On the morning of the Spring Farm Festival staff naturalists discovered that the snake was missing — not to be found again, we thought. About a week later, a staff member was in the classroom and noticed something moving. It was the snake. He was released and we were very happy that he did not show up in someone's bunk.
Researchers from Louisiana State University returned, as they have for several years, to look at our mummichog (small fish) population in the tidal gut near Accokeek Creek. It turns out that we have a very unusual population in that they are freshwater fish. Almost all other mummichogs of the same species are brackish or saltwater fish. Since neither population can survive in the other's waters, scientists think this may be the first step in speciation (the evolutionary process by which new biological species arise).
TRASH FREE BY 2013!
The Cleanup was not the only exciting activity for the Trash Team this spring. Montgomery County, MD has now joined the District of Columbia with a five:cent bag fee! The bill was passed on May 3rd and will begin to be implemented on January 1, 2012. This is an important step towards reducing litter by reducing use. We look forward to tracking the success of the legislation with our Cleanup partners.
Our Trash Free Potomac Facility program continues to go strong with 19 facilities, recently adding the largest office building in the world to its list. That's right; the Pentagon has joined our other elite facilities who are committed to reducing their waste and encouraging employees to responsibly manage their waste. Check out our website to learn more about our program : www.trashfreepotomac.org
The Alice Ferguson Foundation participated in the National Get Outdoors Day hosted by the Living Classrooms Foundation at Kingman Island in Northeast Washington, DC. Staff members Christa Haverly and Brenda Wright displayed the Hard Bargain Farm worm bin to encourage people to compost in doors. The kids loved looking for the worms, with some of them some a bit more hesitant than others. One little girl was totally enthralled with the worms, visiting the table four times throughout the day. The two:year old was brimming with enthusiasm with each of her trips to the bin, and her favorite part was looking at the worms through a hand lens.
For more information on composting with worms contact the Alice Ferguson Foundation.
Through a NOAA BWET three:year grant, Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center at AFF has developed a long:term partnership project called Schoolyards as Classrooms Project (SCP). Schools whose teachers have attended Teacher Institutes are invited to form vertical teams of teachers (from multiple grade levels) to meet regularly with the HBF Outreach Coordinator (Christa Haverly) to discuss outdoor learning and other environmental education topics. Our meetings last about an hour, and we cover a lot of ground, including conversations about what each teacher has done the outdoors (most teachers do not otherwise have the opportunity to share and learn from each other in this way), how to overcome the barriers to bringing students outside, what curricular topics could be taught outside, what action projects students are working on, what grants are available, local environmental events for teachers and/or students to attend, and more. These groups of teachers have developed into "Professional Learning Communities," the new terminology for groups of professionals that come together in teams to learn from each other.
Not only do teachers exchange ideas for how they are using their outdoor classrooms, but they also have the opportunity to work collaboratively with me to conduct outdoor lessons with students. I visit their classroom and model best practices for managing a class of students outdoors. That includes structuring a lesson to meet state standards while venturing outdoors to collect data, make observations, or model concepts. So for this year I have modeled fractions by dividing raised garden beds into equal parts, collected natural objects found outdoors for counting activities, made observations outside with students and challenged them to use figurative language which is then developed into poetry or descriptive paragraphs, played games with students to demonstrate the habitat needs of animals, collected decaying objects to observe the process of decomposition, observed critters in the soil and compost piles to learn about life cycles and nutrient cycles, and more! After the lessons, teachers often commented about how certain individual students or classes that they thought would be difficult outside actually behaved really well, or about how they never thought they could have time to go outside and still meet content requirements. Teachers eventually become comfortable enough to incorporate outdoor lessons into their monthly or weekly routines with students.
So why is this important? At the elementary level, developing empathy for nature and for living things is critical. But how can we do this when we keep kids indoors away from nature? By bringing students outside we increase their exposure to and comfort in nature even if the lesson is not specifically focused on nature. Also, we are integrating environmental education into other disciplines. At the end of a writing lesson on figurative ways to describe natural objects in the school garden, students were asked to name one thing they learned that day. One student raised his hand and said, "I didn't know strawberries take 80 days to harvest." This makes learning more authentic and meaningful for students. Otherwise, the writing lesson might have been describing something less interesting to students, or the garden lesson might have taken too much time out of the regular curriculum and not been taught at all!
This month marks the end of our BWET grant. We have developed a first:rate outreach program over the last three years. The entire grant includes pre: and post:classroom visits for students who came to Hard Bargain Farm to give their learning experience more context and meaning. It includes Teacher Institutes, which help teachers overcome green shock and inspires them to teach science and environmental education with more meaningful, hands:on activities. And it includes the SCP, which also funds field studies to the farm, resources for schoolyard classrooms, and stipends for teacher participation. We will keep in touch with our partner schools next year while continuing to look for alternative sources of funding to develop these and new relationships with schools.
The following are some reflections from teachers who have participated in the SCP this year.
"Our team meetings were a great time to assess the amount of outdoor education time students had and set goals to increase it. The meetings helped me to be more aware of the learning time we spend outdoors. It was nice to hear what other teachers were doing with outdoor ed."
Katie Wiles, Center City Public Charter School Petworth Campus, Kindergarten Teacher, DC
"One of the most helpful parts of the partnership was having SCP leaders come into our classroom and model an outdoor lesson. I learned a lot about how to effectively carry out an outdoor lesson. Also, the team always came with ideas on how to get involved in the community outside of school (outdoor events like watershed cleanups etc.). Finally, with money from the partnership we were able to purchase items like picnic tables which will make it easier for us to hold more outdoor events with our students."
Christen Brady, Tubman Elementary, Fourth Grade Teacher, DCPS
"I was able to gain several resources which have really helped me to advance our outdoor lessons. It was great having someone to bounce ideas off of and serve as a resource specialist. I really appreciated it."
Constance Mourning, Anne Beers Elementary, Pre:K Teacher, DCPS
"We have all worked together so well. Christa's work with my students and with me has been great. The students look forward to her visits. Our home based team works together to create a school climate of awareness. The meetings keep us focused and give us opportunity to get together to discuss the plans for the next month."
Erin Good, Gale:Bailey Elementary, Fourth Grade Teacher, CCPS
The National Garden Clubs, Inc. recognized Fergie's Gardeners with three top awards at its 82nd annual convention May 27—30 in Washington, DC. First place:honors went to the Fergie's Gardeners membership brochure, designed and produced by Doris Sharp, and the Fergie's Gardeners yearbook. The yearbook, which compiles information on programs, leadership and governance for garden club members, was produced by Mary Lee Phelps with layout and design by Doris Sharp. The Fergie's Gardeners website—authored by Betsy Reid with layout by Jodie Standish—received a certificate of commendation.
The National Garden Clubs, founded in 1929, is the largest volunteer gardening organization with more than 6,500 national and international affiliate clubs.
Congratulations to AFF and Fergie's Gardeners for their excellence in gardening communications!Hard Bargain Farm a Featured Stop on Maryland Garden & House Pilgrimage
Maryland Garden Pilgrimage at HBF was a great success with more than 100 visitors from as far away as New Jersey and Baltimore. We connected with other preservationists and history lovers in Maryland from areas in Prince George's County along the Patuxent River, Annapolis, and St. Mary's County. Our visitors were very interested in us, and of course had expert guidance on Alice and her accomplishments. The whole farm looked spiffy and the day was beautiful, with just a sprinkling of mid:afternoon rain.
Everyone who visits feels the spirit of the place or genius loci. The term was coined by the 18th Century British poet, Alexander Pope. Artists and writers try to capture the spirit of the place in their works, as Alice did in her paintings of Hard Bargain Farm. Landscape designers use genius loci to inspire their design ideas, as Alice did when she framed the view at Mt. Vernon from her house gardens.
Epistle IV, to Richard Boyle, Earl of Burlington
A picture:perfect, sunny, warm day welcomed a huge crowd of more than 500 people to enjoy Hard Bargain Farm's annual Spring Farm on May 7.
The visitors had a bevy of activities to participate in: wagon rides to the river; cow milking; butter churning; a touch tank featuring local critters; blacksmithing; kids'crafts; face painting; an antique tool exhibit and chewing down on delicious food from Bear Creek BBQ. Local crafters and the Fergie's Gardeners Plant Sale was a big success. Thistlebrook Natives—a nursery specializing in an array of native plants—joined us for the first time this year. Nursery owner Ann Bodling shared her knowledge and love for planting natives with many interested parties. Clearwater Nature Center joined us and brought some of their animals for the children to see and experience up::close.
The bands Wayward Street Players, King Street Bluegrass, and Split String Soup provided rousing music throughout the day's activities.This great event was made possible with the help of all the staff and wonderful volunteers. Thanks to all of you!
In our last newsletter we wrote extensively about our special creature, the Blue Rhino created by sculptor Lenore Straus in 1932. We began a fundraising campaign to restore this unique sculpture at the Spring Farm Festival. Visitors bought rhino key rings and happily contributed to the cause.
Our goal is to restore "Big Blue" in such a way that our students will be able to ride it again as they did for many decades. Riding "Big Blue" was always a highlight of their visit. If you visited Hard Bargain Farm as a student and have a photo of yourself and the rhino we invite you to send it to us (email@example.com) so we can publish it on Facebook and Twitter.
You can donate online on our website www.fergusonfoundation.org to help with the restoration of the beloved Blue Rhino.