In This IssueWHAT'S HAPPENING? NO CHILD LEFT INSIDE: Environmental Education at AFF
Trash Free Potomac River Watershed Initiative HARD BARGAIN FARM
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
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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!
This glorious fall weather has smiled on some major happenings here at AFF: the 30th Oktoberfest, the Living Shoreline dedication and a prestigious award for BTW. On a smaller scale our education programs are in full gear and fully booked, and our latest additions to the barnyard, Rotor and Rooter, are a big hit with the elementary crowd. Look below for lots of details and pictures of all these fun events.
HARD BARGAIN FARM
October 12 was a brilliant day along the banks of the Potomac River across from Mount Vernon. About 100 persons gathered to celebrate the completion of the construction phase of the living shoreline at Piscataway Park. As the event got underway, a flight of honking geese flew directly in front of the crowd. With the majestic river and the newly built and planted shoreline as the background for the event, onlookers had the opportunity to hear from several public servants who had a particular interest in the successful completion of this project just a few miles downstream from our nation's capital.
Steny Hoyer, Majority Leader for the US House of Representatives, eloquently spoke of the importance of this project, not only for people today but for those yet unborn. Jonathan Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service (NPS), and Dr. Jane Lubchenko, Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), both addressed the importance of conserving our natural resources for richness and viable populations of plant and animal species. Tracy Bowen, AFF's Executive Director, pointed out the partnering between AFF, NOAA, NPS, Chesapeake Bay Trust and the Keith Campbell Foundation that made this a success. Wes Matheu, owner of Shoreline Design, Inc., the construction firm that did the lion's share of the work, spoke of the help that stimulus funds from the American Restoration and Recovery Act (ARRA) afforded him, his employees and sun:contractors involved in the project.
Fifth grade students from Highland Park Elementary School in Prince George's County on their habitat hike stopped by and listened for a while; then they moved on and seined for fish along one of the newly constructed pocket beaches directly behind the speakers' podium. They were very excited to be a part of the celebration and also to experience the wonders of the outdoors, learning about the critters in the river. (They netted mummichogs and large:mouth bass, both very important fish species in this part of the Potomac River food web.)
Students from Highland Park Elementary in Prince George's County with AFF
Executive Director Tracy Bowen; Rep. Steny Hoyer; Jonathan Jarvis, Director of
NPS; Dr. Jane Lubchenko, NOAA; and Michael Herman, President, AFF Photo: NOAA
"I was particularly interested in learning about the educational component of what the Alice Ferguson Foundation conducts on this site. I was struck by how well our collaborative restoration effort is bringing such an important benefit to youth in our local communities. To me, this is exactly what President Obama was hoping for when he signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law. He didn't just want to support the economy; I believe he hoped that the Recovery Act would support opportunities to benefit the environment and our future generations as well. This project certainly embodies these ideas." ::from a letter written by Dr. Jane Lubchenko, NOAA, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere
At the end of September there was a rainfall deficit of 7.4", but rains since then made up for it. We are hoping for good grass growth to sustain our now twenty:nine head of cattle well into winter. The very hot summer (nearly 70 days of 90 degrees or above) probably had a negative impact. It seems the grass is slow to come back after each graze, even though each area gets a rest of at least 30 days. Two new calves were born during this period. Four two:year old steers will be going to slaughter in November.
Even with our goal of year:round grazing, hay is a must to have on hand. The second cutting, completed in September, totaled 850 bales and looks good. Our finicky dairy cows are pleased.
A new batch of layer chicks arrived in September. They are a mix of White Rock (will lay brown eggs) and White Leghorn (will lay white eggs, the commercial favorite). When mature, the Rocks will be nearly twice the size of the Leghorns, giving them a dual purpose. Leghorns have been selectively bred to lay the maximum number of eggs while requiring a minimum amount of food. So children will be introduced to the breed that supplies most of the eggs their parents buy and also see that having white feathers does not guarantee white eggs.
Twenty:five broiler chicks arrived at the same time. They will be ready for the table beginning of November. They are such a popular item on our farm products list and fifty more chicks arrived in October. We will borrow a mechanical plucker for the first time to make the job of removing feathers a lot quicker. The Foundation received a grant from MARBIDCO (Maryland Agricultural and Resource:Based Industry Development Corporation) with the purpose of encouraging independent producers to expand their business operations to make a product that is "value:added". We can certainly expand on this item! The funds will be used to convert a small spring house to a chicken processing center. Items to be purchased include stainless steel sinks, a scalder, a plucker, and formica work surfaces. A new chicken tractor will be built next year.
Two little Hampshire pigs were purchased in September. Staff quickly named them Rotor and Rooter.
Plenty of fresh grass:fed beef will be for sale in early December. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for information and prices. Quarters and halves will be sold at $6.25/pound. Individual pieces will be somewhat higher.
Right before Oktoberfest we received great help with our preparations. Through the annual Day of Caring program volunteers from Spring Dell Center gave their time to help us with spreading a huge amount of mulch and sweeping around the Lodge where the Oktoberfest festivities take place. We are very grateful and we all had a good time.
NO CHILD LEFT INSIDE: Environmental Education at the Alice Ferguson Foundation
Through its Arthur Dorman Scholarship Program the Chesapeake Bay Trust awards every year a $5,000 scholarship to a Maryland high school or college aged student who demonstrates a commitment to improving the environment and the Chesapeake Bay. The winner of this $5,000 scholarship is announced during the Trust's Legislative Reception in January. Applications close on Monday, November 22.
Do you know a student who has done great environmental work? Please visit www.cbtrust.org/ and find out how you can nominate him/her for this award.
One of Bridging the Watershed's greatest assets is the way the partners build on each others' strengths. This synergy has been recognized by the Department of Interior in 2010 with the Partners in Conservation Awards. These awards recognize conservation achievements resulting from the cooperation and participation of landowners; citizens' groups; private sector and nongovernmental organizations; and federal, state, local, and tribal governments. We are delighted to be one of twenty:four partnerships to be honored by the Department of the Interior, of which only three were within the National Park Service.
"These twenty:four awards celebrate partnerships that conserve and restore our nation's treasured landscapes and watersheds, partnerships that engage Native American communities and partnerships that engage youth," Secretary Salazar noted.
In addition to this great award, we are honored to be included in the "Strategy for Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay Watershed", the action plan to implement President Obama's Executive Order 13508, the ambitious plan to restore the health of the Bay. In particular, the strategy states that "The National Park Service will work with the Alice Ferguson Foundation to expand the Bridging the Watershed program, which provides educational experiences connecting students to their place in the natural and cultural world."
from l::r: Libby Campbell, AFF Deputy Director; Jason Calhoun, Director of Science for Prince William County Schools; Abe Haspel, AFF Board of Directors; Jeanne Troy, Director of Bridging the Watershed; Tracy Bowen, AFF Executive Director; Jonathan Jarvis, National Park Service Director. Photo by NPS
On the weekend of October 23/24 the USA Science and Engineering Festival on the National Mall was an opportunity to re:invigorate the interest of our nation's youth in science, technology, engineering and math. The event featured over 500 exhibitors and dozens of performances and demonstrations. Thousands of young aspiring scientists made the journey to DC from all across the greater metropolitan area to take in the sights and expand their knowledge of leading technologies and innovations. Nestled between exhibits on underwater exploration using submersible robots and ice:core drilling, lay the Alice Ferguson Foundation's booth which featured our "Trash Timeline".
The event was considered a great success by all AFF staff present. We set up our "Trash Timeline" and encouraged children and parents to organize common household refuse into chronological order by how long it takes to decompose.
Many people found it shocking that it takes thousands of years for a simple glass bottle to decompose, and even more shocking that something like Styrofoam may never decompose. Over the course of the weekend, we had a steady stream of visitors stop at our booth and walk away with a new understanding of the environmental costs of the trash they create on a daily basis. We also passed out hundreds of flyers for this spring's Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, and the response was overwhelmingly positive: many people pledged not only to come and help clean up but also bring their friends and family along.
As an added bonus, most of the AFF staff present got an opportunity to walk around and explore the Festival a little bit. Some interesting sights along the way: a booth about recycling plastics where it was explained how recyclable plastics are separated by shredding and submerging them in water; some types sink where others float and then they will be recycled accordingly. There was also a robot soccer tournament, pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope, a mock:up of one of the Apollo Re:Entry capsules that brought astronauts safely back to Earth, The Weather Dude singing songs about meteorology, and much more. It was a fantastic weekend and a great opportunity to get people to learn about us and our programs; educate them about the trash problem, and how they can get involved with the Potomac River Watershed Cleanup.
TRASH FREE BY 2013!