Local School Wins Regional Video Contest and Inspires Community to Take Control of Their Trash

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 
July 16, 2012    

(Washington, DC)  The Green Team from Prince George’s County’s Walker Mill Middle School has been awarded the top prize in the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Litter Prevention Video Contest. The announcement of the Video Contest winner is the culmination of major efforts this spring by the Foundation’s Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative to increase region wide awareness to the pervasive problem of litter in the Potomac Watershed through the 25th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup and the 3rd Annual Litter Enforcement Month.  The winning video from the contest will be used throughout the year to increase public awareness of the threat of litter as the Trash Initiative continues to work toward putting the institutions, infrastructures, and policies in place to create a lasting reduction of litter in the Potomac Watershed.

This spring, there was a rise in consciousness surrounding the issue of litter throughout the Potomac River Watershed. Residents of the watershed were able to experience the negative impact of litter first hand as they participated in the 25th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup. The Alice Ferguson Foundation and their partners worked with 14,586 volunteers to remove 312 tons trash and debris from the region at 633 cleanup sites throughout Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Coinciding with the Cleanup in April, the third annual Litter Enforcement Month (LEM), a partnership between regional law enforcement departments, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, and the Alice Ferguson Foundation had a record number of participating enforcement agencies educating about the criminal consequences to littering and illegal dumping. Over 4,600 officers were educated about litter and litter-related codes by the 15 participating agencies and  a total of 615 litter related citations, violations, and other reports were issued including a total of 83 citations specifically for litter or illegal dumping.

“These catalyst events in the spring, Litter Enforcement Month and the Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, create momentum toward solutions to the trash problem by greatly increasing public awareness of the problem,” said Laura Chamberlin, Program Manager for the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative. “This year, we launched the Litter Prevention Video Contest in conjunction with these events to build off of this momentum and engage a whole new audience to help us tell the visual story of litter and its threats to our region’s health and economy.”

The winning video from the Litter Prevention Video Contest will be used in conjunction with the Regional Litter Prevention Campaign, a collaborative effort between the Alice Ferguson Foundation, regional jurisdictions, and communities to raise public awareness and bring a stop to litter in the Potomac Watershed. By educating the public about the importance of taking control of their trash and disposing of it responsibly, the campaign seeks to change their behavior and ultimately reduce the amount of litter in our communities and our waterways.  The contest drew participants from throughout the region. A panel of judges narrowed the selection down to five entries, which were then open to public voting for a period of two weeks.

“The Campaign’s message; Piece by piece your litter adds up and makes the places you go each day unsafe and unhealthy, was captured in the wide range of creative entries we received ,” said Lori Arguelles, Executive Director of the Alice Ferguson Foundation. “We look forward to using them in the coming year to help inspire Potomac residents to take action to preserve their watershed by taking control of their trash and preventing litter from hitting close to home.”

The contest’s grand prize of $1,000, will be presented to the Walker Mill Middle School’s Green Team during a celebration at the start of their school year.   Along with creating this video, the school’s Green Team, comprised of over 50 students, has inspired their community as they worked throughout the school year to make their school more sustainable and trash free. They have produced their own litter prevention posters, started a paper recycling program, created field day activities using the trash from their lockers, and conducted a schoolyard cleanup and other beautification activities.

This coming school year, the Green Team will use the prize money to conduct a beautification of the Walker Mill school grounds, host a Green carnival, and begin a community garden with the city of Capitol Heights.  They will also continue their recycling program with the hope to increase their efforts and expand their Green Team. “Our mission is to establish a trash free culture that reflects what it means to reduce, reuse, recycle, and rethink on a daily basis,” said Sidney Bailey IV and Keisha Barfield the Green Team Co-Leaders at Walker Mill Middle School. “The Green Team has a goal of making Walker Mill a certified green school next year and will use this award to get us closer to that goal. We are thankful for this award and the community for voting for our video.”

The Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative is sponsored by REI; Telemundo; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program; Skanska Infrastructure Development; Mom’s Organic Market; ExxonMobil; Washington Gas; Beveridge & Diamond; Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation; Gangplank Marina Slipholders Association; Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company; Prince George’s County Department of Environmental Resources; and Starbucks.

The Alice Ferguson Foundation connects people to the natural world, sustainable agricultural practices and the cultural heritage of their local watershed through education, stewardship and advocacy. AFF operates the Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center—a 330-acre working farm located on the shorelines of the Potomac River south of Washington, D.C.  As we fulfill our mission of connecting people to nature and inspiring actions that sustain our world, we provide environmental education programs at Hard Bargain Farm and through our Bridging the Watershed program at National Parks throughout the Potomac River Watershed.  Our Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative seeks systemic solutions to the persistent problem of trash.  Learn more at www.fergusonfoundation.org

 

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