Volunteers Sweep Up the Shoreline at Oxon Cove Park

December 7th, 2015

Cleanup Chronicles, December 6, 2015

Another successful cleanup was held on Sunday, December 6th, at Oxon Cove Park. Twenty five volunteers enjoyed the sunshine and came out to help on this fall Sunday.

It was an adventure every step of the way. We all met in the parking lot, to be escorted to the shoreline by a tractor wagon. It was a scenic, slightly bumpy ride through endless fields and bare fall trees. The shoreline of the Potomac River offered a unique view of Alexandria, Virginia and the District of Columbia cityscapes. Together, we removed 23 bags of trash from the watershed, including a large plastic crate and an old, broken fishing pole. I was inspired by the words of fellow volunteers when I asked what they were finding. “We are finding a lot of Styrofoam. I am never buying Styrofoam again!” said Khara, volunteering with her daughter who is a high school student in Virginia.

“There are so many food wrappers; we should really be considering biodegradable options… You can learn a lot about people from the trash,” said Erik, a volunteer with Campfire Scouts. Erik said, “This is a great activity for kids because it is so simple, and it gets them outside.”

A group of Bowie State students were strongly represented. “It was something we could do together as a group.”

Ranger Stephanie Marrone was our cleanup leader. Marrone is very knowledgeable about the history of the park and is a wonderful steward of the land.

Thank you for volunteering! A cleanup saves animals, improves water quality and beautifies the park. I highly encourage everyone to participate in a trash cleanup; it is an eye opening experience.

Join us for the next Shoreline Sweep Up on January 3rd, 2016. Contact Hannah at [email protected] or by phone at 202.417.3524 with questions or to volunteer.

If you would like to learn more about Oxon Cove Park and Oxon Hill Farm, please check out this article from the National Parks Magazine!

AFF Executive Director Lori Arguelles is a guest on Kojo Nnamdi Show Nov. 30

November 29th, 2015

Lori Arguelles joins fellow panelists Tommy Wells, Director, D.C. Department of Energy and Environment and Patty Rose, Director, Greenspace, to discuss what it means for organizations who are “going green.” From little changes — recycling, paperless transactions — to structure-wide improvements like LEED certification, every little effort counts. But only a handful of structures in the U.S. are certified “Living Buildings” — those that meet the strictest eco-friendly building standards in the world. Now, after a decade-long construction process, a new education center in Prince George’s County is attempting to achieve “Living Building” status. Kojo learns how this net-zero energy, carbon-neutral structure came to life, and finds out how the District’s own plans for supergreen affordable homes and sustainable buildings could impact residents and the environment.  Listen to the recording

Annual Holiday Open House

12/13/2015
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm Annual Holiday Open House
Alice Ferguson Foundation, Accokeek MD

Alice Ferguson Foundation Hosts Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony for New Environmental Education Building

October 29th, 2015

By JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES [email protected]
October 29, 2015

 

Imagine a futuristic building that can work in harmony like species in an ecosystem and mimic the beauty, resourcefulness and efficiency of nature’s surroundings.
It incorporates net zero energy, net zero water, carbon neutral and nontoxic materials into its construction. The building is so innovative in environmental design that it can generate hot water with its solar thermal panels, reduce the need for artificial lighting, heating and cooling, eliminate the need for toilet flushing and can even divert solid waste from the landfill to recycle and reuse streams. It also is one of only seven buildings in the world designed to meet the the most stringent set of green-building standards ever created in modern-day history.

Now click your heels three times and say “there’s no place like AFF.”

Since its founding more than 60 years ago, the Alice Ferguson Foundation has been dedicated to educating visitors of all ages about the natural world, inspiring them to recognize their role in protecting it and seeking innovative ways to solve environmental challenges, according to an information booklet.
“The Alice Ferguson Foundation has been a premier provider of transformative, experiential, environmental education programs for students in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area,” Lori Arguelles, the foundation’s executive director, said. “Over the past six decades, we’ve served nearly half a million students. …Our mission is to connect people to nature, sustainable agricultural practices and the cultural heritage of their local watershed and we do that through education, advocacy and stewardship.”
When the time came to renovate and refresh its educational campus, the Foundation honored its mission by regenerating, not depleting, the environment through state-of-the-art green design and construction.

The foundation’s Hard Bargain Farm broke new ground Oct. 23 in Accokeek with the unveiling of its new Environmental Education Building, a living structure that not only demonstrates a strong bridge between the natural and built environments, but also the sustainable use of natural resources and the science, technology, engineering and math concepts embodied therein.

“Our guiding principles have been education, inspiration and innovation, all three of which are exemplified in the building we are here to unveil today,” Arguelles said. “A building [that] embraces the Living Building Challenge which is the most rigorous set of energy efficiency green-building standards in the world today.”

Now that construction of the education building has finished, the foundation has to meet the Living Building Challenge’s criteria for net zero energy and water goals for one year.

Once the foundation is given the green light for certification, it will become the eighth leader in the world in providing advanced education programs, specifically in the area of long-term environmental sustainability.

“As you’ll soon learn, it’s more than just a building; it is our newest teaching tool,” said Dan Jackson, president of the board of directors at the foundation. “As an environmental engineer by training, I’m excited about how the workforce of the future will benefit from the STEM based education opportunities so abundant in this building.
… I know that the innovation we exemplify is going to change the face of construction forever.”

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said he couldn’t be happier about the positivity the education building will bring for thousands of Marylanders, especially the residents of Prince George’s County.

“The Alice Ferguson Foundation has made such a positive difference in our environment and the legacies that we’re leaving to our children and grandchildren,” Cardin said. “For 60 years [and] 500,000 children, this is an incredible record. … This is team Maryland and we’re proud of what we do every day. … What we’re doing here at the [Foundation] is a model for what we do in Maryland and around the nation.”

For Cardin, the building is not just a national model, but a living example of the relationship between the built environment and the natural world.
“This is a building that will be positive on carbon emissions which means it actually subtracts carbon from our environment,” said Cardin. “It’s going to be totally friendly on the use of water [and] is a living example for the students that come through here. This center has been here for 60 years. It is an incredibly valuable part of our educational system.”

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III said the project is a dream come true for the county.
“Here you have these very bright kids going around this nature, going around this farm, understanding how science, math and art all come together in the beauty of this facility,” said Baker (D). “We really are blessed in this county. … We’re making great progress in this county. We’re going in the right direction. … But the thing that we want to make sure [of] is the quality of [our children’s] education; that is what this stands for. … It’s to bring our young people here and get them to understand that history is alive, that science is alive, that art is alive and it’s right here in this facility.”

For other county leaders like Prince George’s County Council Chairman Mel Franklin, he is grateful for the project’s vision toward a green and sustainable future.
“Today’s really a celebration of innovation,” said Franklin (D). “This is one of seven living buildings in the entire world. … So we should celebrate this achievement for what it means not just for the county, not just for the region, but for the world. We have the obligation to be the stewards of God’s earth [and] what God has blessed us with. To imagine that we can do so in a way that helps foster development is truly incredible. … This really is about opening minds so that we have students coming from Tokyo, South Korea [and] England coming right here to the Hard Bargain Farm because they know that we’re bringing the world to Prince George’s County and we’re bringing innovation for the rest of the world in terms of the environment. … With innovation like this, the best is yet to come.”
Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s) said innovative projects like the Environmental Education Building promotes the importance of protecting the environment, a lesson that will carry on to students and future generations of environmental stewards.

“The net zero water and energy goals embodied in this living building help us all to reflect back on a time when we lived closer to the land and better understood the rhythms of nature,” Muse said. “We humans are but one species in a complex ecosystem interdependent on others and yet often we can be thoughtless and careless about our actions and their consequences. The thought-provoking lessons that the students learn here will now be taken to an entirely new level as they examine water, waste and energy through the lens of the foundation’s newest teaching tool.”

Online article

Volunteer for Fall Cleanup at Chapman State Park, November 7

October 22nd, 2015

AFF is pleased to have formed a partnership with Volunteer Maryland, an AmeriCorpsChapman State Park program. We now have a Volunteer Maryland Coordinator on staff to help establish a more robust volunteer program throughout the Foundation.

Hannah Seligmann served as an intern earlier this year, helping to organize the Potomac River Watershed Annual Cleanup. She will be setting up area cleanups and helping to organize other volunteer opportunities around Hard Bargain Farm, as well.

The first of her efforts includes a cleanup at Chapman State Park on November 7, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Stay for the whole time or come out for an hour, every effort helps! Student service learning hours will be awarded.

For questions, contact Hannah at [email protected] or 301.292.5665 x216

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.

Can We Talk About Your Trash?

March 24th, 2015

Cleanup-for-trash-postBy Tim Murphy, Potomac River Watershed Cleanup Coordinator

I recently had the privilege of addressing a communications class at the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) taught by Assistant Professor Michelle Brosco Christian. This class is part of CSM’s service learning curriculum, and one assignment in the course is to choose an organization for which you can lead a service project.

I was invited to the class to discuss the Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup and demonstrate how the students could use this event for their assignment. Most of the students in this class understood that recycling is important and that they should not litter; but my conversation with the students deepened their understanding of the pervasive problems of trash. Thanks to Prof. Christian for sharing student feedback!

A number of students were very motivated by your talk to our class! Look what one student wrote:

“When the representative from the [Alice] Ferguson Foundation presented in class last week, I was very inspired by the work they did, how easy it was to get involved, and how large of a scale the problem was. Even if I don’t use [The Potomac River Watershed Cleanup] for service learning, I realize I was motivated to volunteer and help, to actually align my actions with my environmentally-conscious viewpoints. The representative mentioned that [Frances ‘Frankie’ Sherman, Recycling Superintendent] is really trying to spearhead recycling in Charles County, and has already made headway. And all I could think about was that in my neighborhood, as long as I have known, there has been no recycling program – and how appalling that is. Sometime this semester, I would like to not only organize a cleanup (for the place dearly needs one), but perhaps talk to the homeowners’ association about why a recycling program hasn’t been implemented, and what steps could be taken to change that.”

Trash makes the places we live and work unsafe and unhealthy, and students are shaping our future laws and policies. I’m glad I had a chance to talk in-depth with them about our region’s trash problems and solutions. Here are some ways we can all help:

  1. Encourage your family and friends not to litter.
  2. Make sure your trash and recycling bins have lids to keep wind and critters from creating litter.
  3. Join us on Saturday, April 11 for the 27th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup.

Want to know more about recycling in your town? Here are some local recycling resources. Know of others? Add them in the comments.

 

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 TrashFreePotomac.org.After 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.

RFQ01_3-6-15

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.

RF02_3-6-15
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.