Posts Tagged ‘Potomac Watershed’

Celebrating the Year of the Anacostia

January 17th, 2018
By Laura Cattell Noll, Program Manager, Trash Free Initiative

 

In the 60 years since our founding, we have seen firsthand the importance of the Anacostia River and, in particular, the educational, cultural, recreational and economic resources the waterfront offers to District residents. Earlier this month, the DC Mayor declared 2018 as the Year of the Anacostia to pay tribute to this incredible local resource.

Here are just a few reasons we’re so excited to celebrate the Year of the Anacostia:

The Anacostia waterfront provides District residents with unparalleled access to public lands in their own community. These riverfront public lands are on par with some of the best publicly accessible waterfronts in the world, including San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park and Chicago’s lakefront parks. Since the 1970s, we have worked closely with the National Park Service, including Anacostia Park to encourage students and community members to visit our national public lands and discover nature in their own back yard. Green spaces are important to our communities and they bring real value to our lives.


The Anacostia river and waterfront provide an incredible opportunity for environmental and watershed education.
Learning is both more meaningful and more relevant when it happens in a student’s community. This year is also the 20th anniversary of our educational program, Bridging the Watershed, which brings more than 6,000 students per year out to their local parks. Through this program, hundreds of students visit Anacostia riverfront parks to engage in inquiry-based scientific field studies. The transformative experiences during these hands-on learning programs inspire our youth to utilize their local resources and engage with the environment in meaningful ways.

The Anacostia waterfront inspires community-based watershed stewardship.

As an important tributary of the Potomac River, the Anacostia watershed has long-been a focus of the Annual Potomac Watershed Cleanup. Last year, more than 9,000 volunteers, removed more than 400,000 pounds of trash from the watershed. During our 30th cleanup later this April, volunteers will come together to host dozens of cleanup sites across the Anacostia River Watershed. We continue to be inspired by the unprecedented collaboration within the Anacostia watershed that includes thousands of volunteers and a diverse coalition of government, non-profit, business and community partners.

We are excited to celebrate, enjoy and honor the history of the Anacostia River and surrounding communities this year, and in the years to come.

Learn more about the Year of the Anacostia here.

The Stories of Why

July 7th, 2014

By Alena Rosen, AFF Communications Coordinator

Washington Canoe Club 5_1This year reveals another record breaking year for the Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup with 14,766 volunteers removing 288 tons of trash from 671 sites throughout the Watershed. Along with being numerically impressive, these Cleanup numbers tell an even larger and greater story. View full Cleanup results here.

 

I have had the privilege of coordinating the Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup for the past three years. During this time, I have had the opportunity to collaborate and talk with hundreds of site leaders, partner organizations, and volunteers. One of my favorite parts of these conversations is hearing their “stories of why”: why they originally got involved, why they are passionate about trash, and why, in many cases, they continue their efforts throughout the year.

Through listening to these stories, I get to hear the passion of these community leaders as they work to protect their neighborhoods, local waterways, and parks.  I hear about how an individual picking up trash in their local stream sparked a conversation with neighbors about the public hazard of trash, which led to the creation of a community volunteer organization dedicated to eradicating trash in their sub-watershed and regular community cleanups.  I hear about a volunteer who had originally been dragged to a cleanup by a friend and went on to adopt her own site and lead year-round cleanups for the past decade because she had been surprised and disgusted by the volume of trash at the cleanup site.  I hear about a partner organization that uses cleanups to motivate environmental activism by showing their volunteers that they can make a tangible difference in the environment. I hear about a cleanup participant who works tirelessly for solutions to the litter problem in their community and use cleanups as public education platforms.

Each of the “why stories” I listen to, demonstrate the power cleanups have to create a positive change in individual actions, strengthen communities, and protect the environment.  These whys allow the Annual Potomac Watershed Cleanup to be the catalyst for change that it has become, because each why leads to an area of our watershed that is being tended to by a steward who will in turn create an experience for a future generation whys.

If you are interested in sharing your “why” to inspire others, email [email protected]fergusonfoundation.org

What Motivates You to Keep Your Neighborhood Trash Free?

June 30th, 2014

By Albert Arevalo, Community Outreach Liaison

Despite where we live in the District, litter is something that we find scattered in all corners of the city. The goal of the Regional Litter Prevention Campaign  is to educate the community and to change attitudes and behavior around the bad habit of littering. I spend my days in this District of Columbia talking to people about litter and getting them involved with the Litter Campaign. Meeting community members who invest time daily to pick up trash provides a strong motivation for me to keep fighting for a trash free watershed. Kitty Dawson was the first community member  I met who had a strong personal commitment to keeping her neighborhood trash free and can be found on most days picking up trash in Ward 5. I’ve asked Kitty to share what motivates her:

Looking out my living room window every morning gives me joy to see the lovely trees and birds.  However, the trash disturbs me and it makes my smile disappear.  I tell myself not to look at the trash so it won’t bother me, but that doesn’t work. I look around and wonder, ‘where is all the trash coming from, I just cleaned the street several hours ago?’

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I care about the grass and I care about how my neighborhood looks, and I feel good picking up trash in my neighborhood.  Honestly I say to myself it is not worth it because although there are trash bags around for people to dump their trash the trash still end up on the street or below the trash bag.  But I continue because I care about my community so I will continue to pick up the trash in front of my building.  Hopefully one day there will be more individuals who care about their neighborhood and love to keep it free from trash.

One day while picking up trash and a young man came over to me and asked if he can give me free bags he introduced himself and told me he was part of a non profit organization and shared what the organization offer.  Like free trash bags and gloves or whatever you may need to keep your neighborhood trash free.  It was a pleasure meeting Albert Arevalo just knowing there are others for the cause brings me joy.

As our campaign grows and gains momentum, we wish to ease the load of those other “Kitty Dawson’s” who take great pride in their community. I encourage you to make your own personal commitment to end litter. Some simple actions you can take include:

Just as piece by piece, litter adds up and makes the places we go every day unsafe and unhealthy, so too can we build a healthy, trash-free Potomac Watershed with each individual action. Only by working together will we see a change, and only by working together can we make a difference.

Celebrating Watershed Heroes

July 10th, 2013

[Note: This week we are joining author Jennifer Chambers, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, and Blue Water Baltimore, in a blog tour to celebrate watershed heroes and the launch of Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle]

During Scout the Water Bottle’s journey in Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle, written by the educator, Jennifer Chambers, he learns about all the ways in which litter negatively impacts our environment as well as how each individual can make a positive difference. With the mission to connect people to the natural world, sustainable agricultural practices and the cultural heritage of their local watershed through education, stewardship, and advocacy, we at the Alice Ferguson Foundation hope to take the students, teachers, and community members we serve on a similar journey where awareness will lead to action to protect our environment.

TFS 3 We are able to serve the community through three core programs: Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center, which provides outdoor-based experiences for appreciation,awareness, and lifelong stewardship of our natural environment for PreK – 8th grade students; the Bridging the Watershed program, which provides personally meaningful, educational experiences that connect high school students to their place in the natural world; and the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative, which seeks to create a lasting reduction of litter in the Potomac Watershed.

photo 2Our Trash Free Schools Project bridges our three core programs as it works to educate and empower students, teachers, and staff to reduce their school’s waste footprint by providing education and resources. As part of the project, students and staff at K-12 schools are provided with the resources needed to investigate and take action on an environmental issue by implementing a strong waste reduction and litter prevention strategy. Get your school involved at trashfreepotomac.org.

We have recently revitalized the website, guidebook, and resource center for the Trash Free Schools Project to make sure that we can share the most up to date resources and opportunities with our schools. The Resource Center is designed to serve as the hub for perspective and enrolled schools to find activities, lesson plans, how-to guides, and other tools to help them organize, educate, and take action on trash. It allows us share curriculum plans to teachers while also providing them with service learning opportunities to complement them.

high resolution book coverAs we continue to look for useful resources and tools for our schools, we are always excited when we find a creative way to teach about the harmful nature of litter in our watershed. Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle fits the bill by painting the story of the journey of a water bottle from a Maryland storm drain to the Atlantic Ocean, through clever storytelling and compelling pictures. The book also provides tips to reduce plastic usage as well as other resources for students and teachers who are driven to action. We are happy to spread the word about this great resource and hope like Scout the Water Bottle, readers of this book will go on a journey of discovery and take action to preserve our watershed.

Growing Watershed Heroes in our Youth

July 9th, 2013

[Note: This week we are joining author Jennifer Chambers, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, and Blue Water Baltimore, in a blog tour to celebrate watershed heroes and the launch of Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle]

Guest post by Jennifer Chambers, Hiking Along, LLC.

Eight years ago the idea for Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle was born from a lesson that I developed for a Montgomery Housing Partnership afterschool program in the Long Branch neighborhood of Silver Spring. The afternoon’s lesson was dedicated to teaching about the life of litter. Students first engaged in a group trash timeline activity to guess the longevity of different types of litter. Then with an oversized map and individual ones of the Anacostia watershed, we mapped and developed a story of a juice box from the point of littering to the Potomac River. What animals would it meet along its float? How would the juice box impact the life and homes of those animals?

A few days later when reflecting upon the lesson, I realized it would make a great children’s story. The idea for the book was born. Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle tells the story of a water bottle’s journey in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and Atlantic Ocean. Upon reaching a storm drain, the personified water bottle travels the streams and rivers of Washington, D.C., meeting animals along its ride. Each animal—from the water strider to the loggerhead turtle—teaches the water bottle about itself, its origins, its journey, and those of other pollutants in the watershed. Alima is the five-year old water bottle’s heroine; making us all believe we can be one too.

Books are an excellent tool to bring issues alive and help children understand the relevancy it has to their own lives and the world around them, whether local or global. Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle allows kids to learn how litter and other pollutants impact the health of animals that make their home in streams, rivers and oceans. I hope kids will use the knowledge gained from this book to develop a relationship with their own stream in their backyard and to act upon their own stewardship to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay, creating a generation of watershed heroes.

In a recent blog post by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, he stated, “ …to care deeply about pollution or species, you have to love nature; you must experience it early and often. From this perspective, all conservation is local.” Many local organizations are doing this, connecting kids with their local streams and rivers to foster a new generation of watershed heroes in our region’s youth. This week’s blog tour highlights three organizations that are doing this successfully.

Blue Water Baltimore’s mission is to restore the quality of Baltimore’s rivers, streams and harbor to foster a healthy environment, a strong economy, and thriving communities.”

“The Alice Ferguson Foundation’s mission is to connect people to the natural world, sustainable agricultural practices and the cultural heritage of their local watershed through education, stewardship and advocacy.”

“The Chesapeake Bay Trust is the only nonprofit, grant-making organization dedicated to sparking on-the-ground change for the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries in Maryland. Our goal is to increase stewardship through grant programs, special initiatives, and partnerships that support environmental education, demonstration-based restoration, and community engagement activities.”

During this week’s blog tour, each organization uses the theme in Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle and profiles their own program that is successfully facilitating youth ownership and stewardship of the region’s streams and rivers and engaging them to reduce the amount of litter in the Bay watershed. These three organizations are doing amazing work to connect children to nature and grow watershed heroes amongst our youth that will ultimately help the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries to be thriving ecosystems.

From Butterflies to Talking Trash

November 1st, 2012

By Clara Elias, Program Associate, Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative

I made my move to the Alice Ferguson Foundation this last March from the world of butterfly conservation where I spent much of my time in grasslands surveying tiny blue butterflies. These grasslands were often in disturbed areas, along roads and railways tracks – areas that are havens for grassland-loving plants and animals whose habitats are fast disappearing. As you can imagine these areas are also full of trash: plastic bags strangling the vegetation, cigarette butts leaching nicotine, car batteries leaking into the soil. It is disgusting. It breaks my heart to know these habitats are threatened not only by large forces, such as development and changing climates, but by litter carelessly dropped along the roads.

Though littering is a personal choice its effects are global. I have seen how litter has negatively impacted butterfly ecosystems in California and Oregon, and since moving to the DC area, I have seen the trash that plagues the Potomac Watershed. The problem has a simple solution that is difficult to achieve: convince people to dispose of their trash responsibly. To be successful we need to work holistically to get the institutions, infrastructure and policies in place to see a lasting reduction in litter. The Trash Summit is where many of these solutions begin, which is why I am so excited about participating in this year’s event.

What makes the Trash Summit so crucial is that it engages stakeholders, allowing them to learn, be heard, share expertise, and contribute to the solution. Anyone who calls the Potomac home has a stake in its future, which is why we work to bring together elected officials, government agencies, businesses, non-profits, youth and concerned citizens every fall during the Trash Summit. Our sessions not only have knowledgeable speakers to learn from, but include lengthy discussions geared towards developing a plan for how to apply what is learned to the Potomac Watershed.

I am especially excited for the keynote address by Jean-Michel Cousteau, ocean explorer and environmentalist, who will be connecting our local problems to a global issue that threatens our oceans’ health. It is important to recognize that, while the Trash Summit works to address this problem regionally, our local efforts are a part of the global solution for marine debris. I also can’t wait for the session, titled “Compost: Protecting our Watershed,” which looks at how compost can be used to manage stormwater and prevent erosion, protecting the region’s water while building healthy soils. It is these types of solutions, which help solve the trash problem while protecting our environment and building local economy, that are essential for creating a bright future for the Potomac.

To tackle the issue of trash, we not only need our region’s leaders and the people working on policy and regulation, but people, such as yourself, with on-the-ground knowledge of what the issues really are and what solutions hold the most promise. I hope you will consider joining me on November 7th at the Silver Spring Civic Building to dialogue and begin making plans for how to create a trash free Potomac Watershed.

Visit the 7th annual Potomac Watershed Trash Summit’s homepage for more information or to register.