Teacher Training – Washington DC

11/02/2018
9:30 am - 4:00 pm Teacher Training - Washington DC

A Day in the Life of a Hard Bargain Farm 5th Grader

August 29th, 2018

By: Kayla David, Outreach Coordinator

For those of us to have walked the paths of Hard Bargain Farm, it is no wonder to us why Alice Ferguson first fell in love with these rolling hills, forests, meadows and wetlands. The land is so much more than dirt and rocks. Each student that comes to Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Hard Bargain Farm walks in the footprints of the young adventurers who came before them. For many of those students, this trip is their very first outdoor experience – and what an experience it is! A day at Hard Bargain Farm is never the same twice, but it might look something like this:

Rising early, the students dress and make their way down a winding path towards the gleaming solar panels of the Cafritz Environmental Center where they eat breakfast, family-style. Once everyone is fed and watered, the students hit the trails that wind through the property.

Along the way, the students stop at a meadow to learn about the migration of local wildlife,  their adaptations, and the resilience of nature as they inspect a few milkweed seeds (or as we like to call them milkweed fairies), and blow them into the wind. Their next stop is at the swamp, where they use dip nets and buckets to dig down into the leaves and muck to discover the life there. Squeals of excitement are heard when they discover a crayfish hiding in the mud.

“If we want to examine it, someone has to pick it up and put it in this bucket,” explains the educator. Looks of disgust and fear cover the faces of the students. Finally, a nervous but determined little hand reaches forward and grabs the small crustacean. Joy erupts all around, and now each student is in line to prove they are just as brave.

Once the students finally reach the river, they gaze out across the water at Mt. Vernon and imagine what life would have been like before this land was developed, before pieces of plastic washed up daily onto the shoreline. In this moment, the students see with their own eyes both the rich cultural history of the area, and how their actions – at their school, in their community – might impact the world around them.

Then, out of nowhere, and osprey swoops down, catches a fish and carries it to a nearby tree to enjoy. The students gasp and exclaim in excitement. After watching the bird for a little longer, it’s time to head back. As the Hard Bargain Farm educator herds the students back on the trail, the most important words of the day are spoken.

A student exclaims, “Aw, I don’t want to leave.” 

Concert in the Woods – Lynn Hollyfield

09/22/2018
8:00 pm - 10:00 pm Concert in the Woods - Lynn Hollyfield
Hard Bargain Amphitheater, Accokeek MD

Modern Conspiracy: Exploring Mid-Century Modern Architecture of Piscataway Park

10/20/2018
1:30 pm - 5:30 pm Modern Conspiracy: Exploring Mid-Century Modern Architecture of Piscataway Park
Alice Ferguson Foundation Cafritz Center, Accokeek MD

Ice Cream Social

08/26/2018
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm Ice Cream Social
Alice Ferguson Foundation, Accokeek MD

4 Quotes for Environmental Educators to Live By

July 25th, 2018

By: Christina Morgal, Communications Intern

Did you know that every year we help local teachers bring the wonder of the outdoors into their classrooms? Our summer workshops bring teachers out to their local parks to prepare for and experience the Bridging The Watershed activities their students will do in the upcoming school year. After taking this summer training, teachers are confident and ready to dive into the hands-on science learning activities with their classes, both inside and outside the classroom.

Recently, I shadowed a group of teachers from Charles County Public Schools as they explored renewable energy, litter prevention, and sustainability activities with our Bridging The Watershed educators.

 

As we learned about pollution in local waterways, I overheard these four awesome quotes:

 “Small changes lead to bigger changes.”

Sustainability will not be achieved in a day. But, if everyone makes one change in their own lives, then we would all make a big stride to save our waterways!

Program educators highlighted the ways we help each class do an action plan or project they can implement in their own lives or schools based on what they learn during their experience with us. These actions often include small changes students can make in their daily lives, such as getting a recycling bin for their home or asking their parents to use reusable shopping bags. An action plan can also include writing a letter to their principal about how they could be a “greener” school.

Small changes like these definitely add up.

“You’re not the one that caused it, but you can be the one to change it.”

The environment is not picky about who helps protect it! Although you may not have been the person to throw trash in the river, you can choose to join the fight against pollution and take action by volunteering for cleanups, educating others about sustainability, or implementing changes in your workplace, school, or home.

 

 

“We don’t see what we don’t look for.”

Have you ever looked at a plastic straw and thought about it might end up once you throw it away? Turns out, plastic straws can’t be recycled or composted, so they often end up in landfills, waterways, and communities…and are one of the top ten items found during cleanups!

During the day’s pollution cleanup activity, we collected more than thirteen bags of trash from the Potomac River shoreline in just 45 minutes, which included more than 250 plastic straws. Once you see how these everyday items end up as litter, it’s hard to walk anywhere without spotting that discarded plastic straw, bottle cap, food container, or empty bottle.

 

“Buy green and reduce, reuse, and recycle.”

This old adage still rings true! The three R’s mantra continues to be one of the easiest sustainability practices to implement, with three small changes that anyone can make in their daily lives:

  • Reduce the amount of waste that we produce
  • Reuse items in creative ways
  • Recycle items that can be harmful to our environment

After spending just one day with this great group of teachers, I know that the lessons they’ve learned today will go back with them to the classroom and help inspire the next generation of environmental champions. Here’s to these four overheard and unassuming ideas can help change the world for the better.

Never Too Young To Make a Difference: 5th Graders Divert School Waste from Landfills

July 10th, 2018

Students from CCPCS participate in the Trash Timeline activity, which explores decomposition rates of different materials.

This past school year, hundreds of students from around the region participated in the Trash Free Schools program. Students learned about waste production, the impacts of litter on the environment and took action to clean up their communities and waterways.

Through a Community Stormwater Solutions grant from the District Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), Alice Ferguson Foundation staff worked with Capital City Public Charter School (CCPCS) to engage 80 fifth graders in creative student-led action projects to prevent litter, clean up waterways, and ensure healthy communities in the District. 

During a program led by Alice Ferguson Foundation staff, students explored decomposition rates of commonly littered items by creating a visual timeline. Student also conducted a waste audit in their cafeteria to learn about the kinds of trash produced at the school.

Results from cafeteria waste audit at Capital City Public Charter School. These results informed student-led action projects.

Two field trips, first to Hard Bargain Farm and then to the Fort Totten Transfer Station, supplemented the student’s learning by highlighting what happens to trash, recycling and composting after they leave our schools and homes.

Alice Ferguson Foundation staff met with students to brainstorm and discuss potential action projects and provide feedback on detailed project proposals. Students decided to launch an expanded trash disposal station, which would allow them to expand recycling, expand composting and create a table for unwanted and untouched food for sharing. Students designed the disposal station, created signs to explain proper sorting and volunteered to stand by the sorting station to help students properly dispose of their lunch waste.

Thanks to the students hard work, the station was launched in mid-May and has already helped to divert more than 100 pounds of compost and recycling from the landfill!

If you’re interested in joining the Trash Free Schools program, email us at [email protected] or call (301)292-5665.

Children’s Art Camp 2018

07/23/2018 - 07/27/2018
9:30 am - 3:30 pm Children's Art Camp 2018
Hard Bargain Amphitheater, Accokeek MD

More Than 300,000 Pounds of Trash Collected and Removed During Regional Cleanup Event

June 11th, 2018

Thousands of volunteers participate in this year’s 30th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup

Drawing on data collected from 267 cleanup events across Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, and West Virginia, more than 9,700 volunteers collected 346,444 pounds of trash throughout the Potomac River watershed at this year’s Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup. Several hundred organizations and groups partner in the effort each year.

“We are honored to be doing our small part for a healthy, clean river by connecting people and local organizations with the resources, support, and information they need to do community cleanups in their neighborhoods,” said Lori Arguelles, president and CEO of the Alice Ferguson Foundation. “The Potomac is one of the largest rivers that flows into the Chesapeake Bay, and, if you live in the area, it’s very likely that the river is your source of drinking and washing water. Littering, runoff, and trash contribute to a widespread problem that affects everyone.”

Nearly 90% of the 300 cleanup events organized throughout the month of April reported on the pounds of trash collected, the number of volunteers, and the instances of commonly found items at their cleanup sites. This year, volunteers reported collecting 862 tires, 11,034 plastic bags, 9,726 plastic straws, and 6,871 cigarettes collected from communities, parks, waterways and other locations across the region.

This year, the Potomac River Watershed Cleanup participated in the Year of the Anacostia celebration by highlighting the nearly 50 cleanup events that happened within the Anacostia River watershed.

“The Year of the Anacostia is all about enjoying the Anacostia River and its parklands and building a better social and environmental future for the Nation’s Capital. The Alice Ferguson Foundation is doing critically important work teaching children and adults to understand, love and conserve the Anacostia,” Doug Siglin, executive director of the Anacostia Waterfront Trust.

The annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup is one of many of the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s programs designed to promote environmental sustainability in the region and connect people to the natural world. The Foundation’s Regional Litter Prevention Campaign, which empowers communities to “Take Control, Take Care of Your Trash,” led to a 30% reduction in observable littering behavior in the targeted District of Columbia neighborhoods between 2013 and 2015. Another program, Trash Free Schools, engages more than 2,000 students annually from more than 20 schools throughout the DC metro region.

Since it began thirty years ago, the Potomac River Watershed Cleanup has mobilized more than 150,000 volunteers to remove more than 7 million pounds of trash.

The Alice Ferguson Foundation’s educational programs unite students, educators, park rangers, communities, regional organizations, and government agencies throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area to promote the environmental sustainability of the Potomac River watershed.

Concert in the Woods: Mark Wenner & The Blues Warriors

07/07/2018
8:00 pm - 10:00 pm Concert in the Woods: Mark Wenner & The Blues Warriors
Hard Bargain Amphitheater, Accokeek MD