Archive for the ‘Environmental Action’ Category

Litter Prevention Campaign – Call for Models!

May 26th, 2015

Additional images and examples can be found at 2008, the Alice Ferguson Foundation embarked on a Regional Litter Prevention Campaign to raise awareness and understanding of litter, change attitudes and perceptions, and persuade people to stop littering. This effort has made a real and lasting impact on our area; the number of people littering after campaign materials were posted declined by 45% and the number of people putting refuse in a trash cans rose 77%. But we still have a lot of work to do.

Trash and litter breed filth and bacteria. It attracts rats, mosquitoes and other animals that carry diseases.

To take the campaign forward, we are updating our materials. We would like to produce new images that show the people who are put at risk from litter’s impact on our communities’ health and safety: you and your family.  We would love for you to get involved!

We are looking for local, non-professional “models”:

Culturally diverse children ages 2 to 6
A woman (age 65 – 80) who is reflective of a grandmother.

A stipend of $100 will be paid to each model. The final product will be similar to the ad shown to the right.

If you are interested in participating, please email or call Kara Pennino, 585.748.7098 by June 5, 2015.

By taking care of trash, you are helping to take care of your family. Be a part of this important initiative!

April 11 Little Hunting Creek Cleanup at McGeorge Terrace

May 11th, 2015

by Scott Cameron – Environment Chair for the Riverside Estates Civic Association

Little Hunting Creek Cleanup at McGeorge TerraceWe had beautiful weather and an impressive haul:  122 bags of trash.  More than fifty people volunteered to help clean the creek and woods, and we enjoyed creek access with at least five volunteer boats. The trash included plastic bottles, Styrofoam, tires, paint cans, a hard hat, aluminum beverage cans, metal foil food wrappers, and glass bottles.  A surprisingly large (and heavy) stack of construction material, comprised of wood, plastic, and rusty metal was ‘harvested’ along with a considerable amount of plastic drop sheet/tarpaulin.  Other trophies included an impressively large plastic sandbox cover, a 4 x 4 foot wooden shipping/storage pallet, and a five-gallon plastic water-cooler reservoir.

Then, on Sunday evening, Judy Joyce invited her church youth group from Aldersgate to come and help pick up trash at Riverside Park on the George Washington Parkway, and walked over to the stone bridge, where Little Hunting Creek enters the Potomac.  It was the mother lode of all trash.  In an hour, they picked up over 16 bags of trash.  The kids were all teenagers, students at either Mount Vernon or West Potomac and they really did enjoy it.  They all said they would do it again, even before next year’s clean up.  Judy served them dinner afterwards, so it was a great outing for the kids, enjoyed by all.

The enthusiasm, cooperation, dedication, neighborliness, civic spirit, courtesy, and good humor of our volunteers was great.  Thank you everyone for your contributions to our community and natural environment.  Special thanks to Allen Davis, Tom Fahy, Mort Isler, Tom Meyers, Barry Spangler, Judy Joyce, Rex Reiley and Greg Benitez for allowing your houses to be volunteer staging areas and trash collection points.

Potomac River Watershed Cleanup at Riley’s Lock

April 21st, 2015

By Hannah Seligman, Intern, Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative

The Potomac River offers fun, healthy, and educational adventures, and each April the Alice Ferguson Foundation partners with hundreds of local community groups to clean up the watershed during our annual Potomac Cleanup. As part of our cleanup events this year, I participated in the Riley’s Lock Cleanup on the C&O Canal. Kay Fulcomer, a longtime river activist, has led a cleanup here for eight consecutive years. Calleva Outdoors Education provided canoes, life jackets, and paddles for volunteers, and AFF provided gloves and large, heavy duty bags for trash and recycling.

reillys lock 2We launched our canoes from the Seneca Landing boat ramp around 10am and spread across Seneca Creek, the mouth of the Potomac River, and downriver to Violettes Lock. After about three hours on the water we collected 17 full bags of trash, 12 full bags of recyclables (the bulk being plastic or glass beverage bottles), one mini refrigerator, one fifty-five gallon barrel, fishing hooks and lures, one tire, one steel lunch tray, sports balls and lots of Styrofoam. The C&O Canal National Historic Park kindly assists us in disposal of all trash. Jim Heins of the C&O Canal Association – also a leader of several cleanup sites – personally sorts through the recycling bags to ensure that they will be approved at the recycling facility.

Crawling along the banks of the river, reaching to pick up trash, brought me a huge surge of inspiration and joy. Despite the thick bugs I knew I would swallow if I opened my mouth, I could not convince my muscles otherwise. I was smiling and motivated from the feeling of community. I’ve been an intern with the AFF since March, and my goal for this internship is to connect as many people as possible to their local watershed and to promote a sense of belonging to encourage community rapport. Ultimately, I would like to see cleanups be closely affiliated with ecology education to further engage youth.

Reilly lock 1Every action on land will affect the river, and it’s time to awaken our awareness to consumption patterns. The banks along the waterways constantly collect debris. Natural strainers in the water, such as tree matter and broken branches, also accumulate trash floating in the river. Trash is deadly to wildlife and increases toxins to be filtered out of our drinking water. Here are some ways to be part of the solution: Take control; take care of your trash. Do not litter and report any illegal dumping to your county or other jurisdiction. Make sure your trash and recycling receptacles have a secure lid and are not overflowing when you put them on the street for pickup. Volunteer at a community cleanup! “The Potomac River naturally brings good people together,” said Cleanup leader Fulcomer, and The Riley’s Lock Cleanup was a successful community event. Volunteers included community residents, Potomac River Keeper Dean Naujoks, the Canoe Cruisers Association, the Monocacy Canoe Club, Blue Ridge Voyageurs, Seneca Creek Watershed Partners, the Muddy Branch Alliance, Calleva Outdoors, and Montgomery Parks. Thank you to everyone who came out to make a difference and beautify our local waterways! It’s never too late to get involved. Our ultimate goal is a Trash Free Potomac. Contact [email protected] or 301-292-5665 to learn more and find out about upcoming events.

Stewards of our Watershed

April 8th, 2015
peace creek

Peace Creek with the remnants of a shopping cart and bike on the opposite shore.

By Tim Murphy, Potomac River Watershed Cleanup Coordinator

At Peace Lutheran Church in Waldorf, Maryland, we have had a long standing and robust Social Concerns Ministry.  Under the direction of Pastor Craig Endicott, we are further exploring the issue of social justice, particularly what keeps a person as a social concern and what it is we can do to address it.

I am the Cleanup Coordinator for The Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup and a member this church. As a part of the Foundation’s Trash Initiative, we explore how trash makes an area unsafe and unhealthy, and how trash can be a gateway to greater social concerns. As part of the Foundation’s newly-launched Faith in our Watershed Initiative, we seek to inspire faith communities around three points:

    • To be stewards of the environment
    • To take action with a cleanup, by adopting a litter can, or with other activities
    • To raise awareness within the broader community using free materials such as posters and yard signs

As the annual Cleanup and goals of Faith in our Watershed meshed well with our social justice focus, it made sense for Peace Lutheran to host a cleanup site this year in the creek that flows behind the church. As stewards of our environment and shepherds of our community, we look forward to participating in this project. Our little cleanup may not have a large impact on the greater watershed, but it raises awareness of a problem that exists in our midst and motivates us to work for a change.

This year’s cleanup is on April 11, but sites are hosting events throughout the month. It is easy to locate a site to volunteer, either for the annual Cleanup or for events held year round.  All of our registered events are found on our Trash Network website.

Good Riddance Garbage

April 1st, 2015

good-riddance-garbageBy guest writer David Thompson, a high school junior in Prince George’s County.

On March 21, along with eight others, I cleaned up a few streets in a Maryland residential area. I heard about this cleanup initiative through my cousin, who resides in the neighborhood. Despite our different ages, races, and backgrounds we all had one common goal in mind: ridding the area of litter.

We immediately grabbed our equipment (a neon green vest, a trash pickup tool, and latex gloves) and wasted no time bagging up the trash. While doing so, we found many noteworthy items: a woman’s purse, a diaper, a shopping cart, at least four tires, a tennis shoe, and two televisions! By the time we were finished cleaning the site, I honestly felt like a full-fledged detective! I pondered why some of our findings would be in the trash, i.e. the two TVs. A group member and I joked around that someone was infuriated and threw out the TVs in a vicious rampage! The cleanup crew chatted as we worked, but that definitely didn’t make us lose sight of our goal. The team’s aura was consistently energetic and passionate about making such a difference in the community. Now I don’t consider myself a tree-hugger, but I was quite disappointed to witness the enormous amount of pollution, which I felt detracted from the beauty of the surrounding nature. It served as an eye-opening juxtaposition to the natural beauty of the Earth. Trees, plants, and shrubs, being depreciated by liquor bottles, beer cans, and all sorts of snack wrappers.

As a result, we pulled out all of our stops. One of the ladies on the team walked to her nearby home to bring back a shovel, rake, and trashcan to make our hard work more effective. Once we pulled the rubbish from underneath the shrubbery, we were able to dispose of and recycle the trash even quicker than before. I stayed out there cleaning up for four hours and I even was hurt by several thorny vines while trying to get a grip on far away items. But ironically, as time progressed I didn’t get tired. My drive increased. After this experience, I felt a rhapsody of accomplishment and a sense of fulfillment.

All in all, I learned and acknowledged that there is strength in numbers, and that no matter how major or simple that difference may be, you’re never too old or young to make a difference in the community.

Regional Litter Prevention Campaign Seeks New Images to Target Millennials

March 6th, 2015

Recognizing the importance of public education and awareness in creating behavior change, AFF’s Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative created the Regional Litter Prevention Campaign to target active litterers in the Potomac Watershed (example of poster to right). This public education and social marketing campaign is designed to raise awareness and understanding of the issue of litter, change attitudes and perceptions, and persuade people to stop littering.

Additional images and examples can be found at several years of social research to create messaging and images, the Regional Litter Prevention Campaign was piloted in 2011 with grassroots outreach strategies in the community of Deanwood, DC, and through a broader jurisdictional approach in Montgomery County, Fairfax County, Arlington County, Prince George’s County, and the District of Columbia. Grassroots efforts have now expanded to eight different communities in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. To gauge the effectiveness of the Litter Campaign, AFF piloted a new evaluation technique in 2013 using direct observations of pedestrians.

The evaluation showed a positive correlation between posted Litter Campaign materials and a reduction in littering behaviors. There was a 45% reduction in the number of people littering after Litter Campaign materials were posted, declining from 1.32% to 0.75% of the pedestrians observed, excluding those littering tobacco products and pieces of food (figure 1).* Positive behavior also rose dramatically after the Litter Campaign was in place: the number of people who put their trash in a litter can rose from 0.48% to 2.12% of pedestrians observed, a 77% increase, excluding those who disposed of food scraps and tobacco products. These items were excluded to be consistent with the results reported above and because a cigarette receptacle was put in place at one of the locations.

The Litter Campaign affected a range of age groups, but had the largest impact on those within the 31-40 age range. Youth and young adults were both the least affected by the Campaign and the most likely to litter. AFF seeks to better target young adults, ages 14-30, in Prince George’s County inner beltway between Forest Heights and Capitol Heights by revising the Regional Litter Prevention Campaign. One element that will change is the main photo used in the poster and other outreach material.

Target communities for this effort are all in Prince George’s County and include:

  • Glassmanor-Oxon Hill
  • Hillcrest Heights- Marlow Heights
  • Suitland-Coral Hills
  • Forest Heights
  • Capitol Heights

AFF requests two sets of photos for use in the Regional Litter Prevention Campaign. These photos will better target the audience of millennials, specifically ages 15-30. They will be done in two parts: 1) Prince George’s County Playground and 2) Marine Debris Connection. AFF has hosted two focus groups with litterers between the ages of 15 and 30 in the target communities in the spring of 2014, to better understand their motivations to litter and to test the current campaign as well as some new concepts. These concepts with also tested with community partners, along with a second round of photo concepts that were also tested with community partners. Based on the research done and the needs of the Litter Campaign, AFF is looking for the following:

1. Images for use in advertising in print, PR, marketing, outdoor and web placement in the Mid-Atlantic region. They will be used on:

  • Posters ranging in size from 8×11” to 2×3’ (or 3×2’), outdoor banners (typically 5×2’), pamphlets and flyers, web banners, social media, print media, and other miscellaneous visual media that may appear in transit systems, county trucks and cars, reusable bags, stickers, etc.

2. Large image sizes (resolution for crisp images that are roughly 3 by 4 feet) and a variety of layouts (vertical and horizontal options of the same concept).

3. All licensing costs paid for upfront. AFF plans on using these images for years to come and works with partners who restrict AFF from entering agreements with yearly licensing fees. For this reason AFF requires an agreement that pays for all rights to use the images outright. This means that AFF will own the image files once completed.

4. Part 1. Prince George’s County Playground: The image should be similar to photo of the urban playground (displayed above), but with the other key elements listed below included:

  • Children playing in an outdoor playground in Prince George’s County in one of the target communities. AFF has already visited several playgrounds and has some suggestions for shooting locations.
  • The playground should have a high level of litter
  • Racially diverse children, reflective of the audience that is being reached and including at least one African American
  • Children ages 2-4 years old, younger than in the current photos
  • At least one of the children directly interacting with litter
  • Realistic photos, especially when it comes to litter levels
  • A Photoshopped concept is pasted below.


5. Part 2. Marine Debris Connection: This part of the project is still under development and will be informed by research that is currently underway. These photos will target youth between the ages of 10 and 19, and ideally will connect litter with trash pollution in water and our oceans. A preliminary concept is pasted below.

The contractor will work with senior professional staff at the AFF to develop the image concept and will manage the project to stay within budget and schedule. The contractor will report to the Program Manager Trash Free Potomace Watershed Initiative. The contractor will manage the shoot, including all logistics from securing location and talent as needed. The contractor will deliver high resolution, large format color digital files. All creative content, files, and content become the property of the Alice Ferguson Foundation.

In addition to AFF project staff, the contractor may also interact with other stakeholders and collaborators including representatives of the community groups, funders, and reviewers.

The budget for this project is $5,000 – $6,000. Respondents to this request for proposals are encouraged to review the AFF web site. Proposals must be submitted by March 27, 2015, and the project is expected to be awarded at the beginning of April 2015. Work will start immediately.

The proposal should present samples of the photographer’s work, references, a description of the scope of work, timeline, and cost, as well as a list of members of the photo team and their qualifications. Specific items which should be addressed in the proposal include:

  • Management of logistics of photo shoot, including site, talent, assistants, etc.
  • Supply of all necessary high quality equipment
  • Digital post production including retouching and color conversion
  • High resolution digital file capture and color correction
  • Creation and delivery of files for presentation in high resolution digital format to client

Please submit full proposals to Clara Elias, Program Manager for the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative [email protected]

AFF’s Newest Trash Free School: in their own words

January 27th, 2015

Guest blog post by Maurice Collier-Shabazz and the rest of the Green Team at Phyllis E. Williams Elementary School

Phyllis E. Williams Elementary SchoolGoing Green…
This school year Phyllis E. Williams Elementary School decided to participate in the Maryland Green School Project and Alice Ferguson Foundation’s (AFF) Trash Free School Project. These projects help us focus and take action on a few community-wide issues. These issues include recycling, solid waste reduction, water conservation/pollution prevention, energy conservation and habitat restoration. The school saw a community need and decided to create an action plan to help combat what was deemed to be an environmental problem.

The first step in our going green process has been to set up a successful recycling program as well as participating in the Trash Free School Project. Our students and parents have stepped up to the challenge to sign the Trash Free Lunch pledge, which takes place on Thursdays. Our focus in going green is to lower our waste as a school and focusing on the 3 R’s- Rethink, Reduce and Reuse.

The students of Phyllis E. Williams have taken the lead in the creation of the Going Green initiative. The after-school program led the initiative to start the recycling program by managing the disposal of all recyclables collected during the school day. The Student Government and Honor Society are supporting our green movement by creating posters to reinforce the schools message regarding the recycling and trash free programs.

Phyllis E. Williams is currently partnering with the Alice Ferguson Foundation and MAEOE (Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education) to assist our school to become a certified Green School within the next year or so. Looking ahead, Phyllis E. Williams will have a Green School Kick Off Celebration that will include representatives from Pepco, WSSC (Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission), and AFF to address the importance of energy conservation and maintaining a trash-free watershed.

For more information on Trash Free Schools click here.
For more information on Maryland Green Schools click here.

Urban Plight to Agricultural Delight

December 12th, 2014
Urban Farm Site Before BAIBLocated on 32nd and Branch Ave in Temple Hills, MD is a 5,000 square foot abandoned street scape project that has existed since 1974. Thirty years later this forgotten site, a road that literally led nowhere, will be the future home for an urban farm thanks to an initiative spearheaded by Branch Avenue In Bloom (BAIB). Since 2010 BAIB, a program of the Maryland Small Business Development Center, has been coordinating with the local businesses and community residents to revitalize the Branch Avenue commercial corridor. BAIB has partnered with the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative to address litter in their community with the Regional Litter Prevention Campaign and through community cleanups.

Urban Farm Real Time Map

Urban Farm Renderings InteriorThe urban farm will have 20 raised beds where participants will have the freedom to plant crops of their choice as well as have over 20 fruit trees, including peach, plum, pomegranate, fig, and persimmon. The farm will give the local community an opportunity to grow their own food and eat healthier. This is especially important in the Branch Avenue corridor, which is considered a food desert, an area where there aren’t any grocery stores nearby. The farm will also serve as a shared community space that will feature urban farming entrepreneurial training, stormwater management awareness, hands on educational opportunities for area schools, jazz shows, movies, and other related outdoor activities. We can’t wait to see how the urban farm will impact and empower the local community.

Urban Farm Renderings Outlay Part 2What originally started off as an idea incepted in 2011 to transform the physical appearance of Branch Avenue, has since transformed into a project that affects the public health and environmental spectrums of the local area and the state. In 2012 BAIB discovered that stormwater runs off the site into a local stream, Oxon Run, which is behind the farm. This stormwater runoff carries pollutants, such as litter and nitrogen, which contaminate Oxon Run. BAIB decided to incorporate stormwater management strategies into their schematics to address the problem. As Oxon Run empties into the Potomac River and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay, the urban farm will not only help to build community, revitalize the business corridor, and address a food desert, but will work to protect our environment and the region’s waterways.

To follow the progress of the Branch Avenue Urban Farm, please visit the If you have any questions, BAIB can be reached at [email protected] and/or (301)-702-2250.

To learn more about where your stormwater goes, explore this map of bags of trash collected at community cleanups in the Washington, DC area. If you zoom into your location, you can use the “Flow Path Tool” to figure out where your stormwater goes and the “Upstream Area Tool” to figure out what areas drain towards you. Both these tools are under the “Draw Tools” menu listed on the right of the map.

Millennial Consumption: How one generation could generate less waste

October 3rd, 2014

By Kara Pennino, AFF Community Outreach Liaison

There has been a lot of talk recently about how to grab the attention of people in their teens and twenties, also known as millennials. The Trash Team has been particularly interested in how to target this young generation, influence them to generate less waste, and keep their communities litter free.
We were inspired to target this audience because of the results of our 2013 pilot evaluation of our Regional Litter Prevention Campaign. This pilot showed a 45% reduction in the number of people littering after campaign material was posted nearby. While we were ecstatic about the results, we wanted to do better. We wanted to know who was still littering after the Litter Campaign was posted and how we could better target them. We found that a large majority of those who were still littering were millennials, specifically those between the ages of 15 and 29. We decided to work with the social research firm, OpinionWorks, to do more research into why this segment of the population was less impacted by our Campaign.

In June we held two focus groups in Prince George’s County with self-proclaimed litterers between the ages of 18 and 30. Our goal was to find distinct ways to supplement our current Litter Campaign with new material that is more impactful for our target audience. We decided to target millennials in Prince George’s County between the towns of Capitol Heights and Forest Heights, where we have been doing community outreach for the last two years (this is part of our strategy, called community based social marketing).

So what grabs the attention of millennials who litter? Authentic, realistic, and personal images. The millennials we interviewed were literal-minded and locally oriented. They want campaigns that are relatable to their everyday experience. For instance, instead of a photo of a park that is clearly not in their neighborhood, they want to be able to picture themselves in a littered park in their neighborhood. Being able to imagine themselves as part of the scene opens them to feeling its impact viscerally. Test images that were taken in D.C. or Virginia were dismissed because the participants did not view the location as part of their communities, and therefore they were not emotionally invested.

Our new Litter Campaign materials are going to have a very strong focus on being local, with photos taken in our target audiences’ immediate community to tap into their sense of identity and pride for their neighborhood. We are also altering our communication strategy, giveaways, and activities in order to better grab the attention of millennials. We tested our talking points to see which ones were the most effective and we have created an Instagram account to better reach our audience online. Our research found that people in their teens and twenties like to have interactive games that they can play with their friends. Our new games are created with this in mind. Are you interested in playing trash toss and wining draw-string backpacks and reusable water bottles? We will be piloting our new Trash Toss at the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s 60th Anniversary Celebration – Fall Fest. We hope to see you there!

If you want to know more about our research and how to better target millennials, join us at the 9th Annual Potomac Watershed Trash Summit at the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center at the University of Maryland from 9am to 2pm on November 7, 2014. I am organizing a session, titled “Marketing to Millennials: A Generational Approach to Trash Reduction.” I hope you can come and join the discussion. Learn more and register for the event at

Contact Kara at [email protected]
Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram! @AliceFergusonFoundation #DontBeTrashy

Introducing the Shepherd Parkway Call to Action

September 16th, 2014

By Nathan Harrington, Chair of Committee to Restore Shepherd Parkway

Nathan Harrington is a cleanup leader who has devoted himself to cleaning up Shepherd Parkway, a large park 

 change behaviors, through our Regional Litter Prevention Campaign, and by working with local leaders and community members to raise awareness about the park and the resources it needs to southeast District of Columbia. Now he is taking his cleanup work a step further by partnering with the Alice Ferguson Foundation to raise awareness about the park and the resources it needs to thrive. 

After three years and quiet and diligent work, it’s time for the campaign to restore Shepherd Parkway to enter its next phase. It’s time for the “big ask.”
We’ve mobilized over a thousand volunteers and removed hundred of thousands of pounds of trash from the woods. Now it’s time to ask our leaders in government to do their part for the park.

Click here to read and sign the Call to Action. After you have signed, be sure to tweet it and post it to your Facebook wall.