August 2010        

In This Issue

Trash Free Potomac River Watershed Initiative


The Alice Ferguson Foundation was established in 1954 as a non–profit organization chartered in the state of Maryland. AFF's mission is "to provide experiences that encourage connections between people, the natural environment, farming, and the cultural heritage of the Potomac River Watershed, leading to personal environmental responsibility."

Please support environmental education in our beautiful region by becoming a member of the Alice Ferguson Foundation, and enjoy the many special events and benefits year 'round. Details



Calendar of Events


Board of Directors
  • Michael Herman, President
  • Nancy Gasparovic, Vice President
  • Linda Lampkin, Secretary
  • Harold Phelps, Treasurer
  • Abraham Haspel, Director
  • Peggy DeStefanis, Director
  • Dan Jackson, Director
  • Steve Kim, Director
  • Stevenson McIlvaine, Director
  • Frank Nicolai, Director
  • Betsy Reid, Director
  • Ken Robinson, Director
  • Liz Theobalds, Director
  • Nancy Weiman, Director
Executive Director
  • Tracy Bowen
  • Matt Alcide, Development Associate
  • Ann Bodling, Naturalist
  • Chelsea Borchini, Naturalist
  • Libby Campbell, Deputy Director
  • Sara Campbell, Naturalist
  • Laura Chamberlin, Coordinator TFPWI
  • Lane Elson, Farm Associate
  • Katrina Fauss, BTW Educator
  • Tom Frezza, BTW Educator
  • Beth Gillan, BTW:YPP Intern
  • Laura A. Gillespie, Web Designer/Editor, BTW
  • Christa Haverly, Outreach Coordinator
  • Becky Horner, PRWC Coordinator
  • Wendy Lind, Office Administrator
  • Deanna Lutz, Financial Administrator
  • Corrie Maxwell, BTW Educator
  • Tawna Mertz, Consultant, TKM Marketing, Inc.
  • Karen Jensen Miles, Program Director
  • Emory Miller, Naturalist
  • Helen Nelson, CPA, Accountant
  • Chris Ordiway, Naturalist
  • Carol Park, Database Specialist
  • Jason Pope, BTW Educator
  • Sharon Rabie, Naturalist
  • Linda Ries, BTW Educator
  • Rhonda Scott, Program Coordinator, BTW
  • Doris Sharp, Arts & Publications Coordinator
  • Ashlea Smith, Intern : TFPWI
  • Jodie Abbott Standish, Web Designer
  • Bill Townsend, Naturalist
  • Jeanne Troy, Program Director, BTW
  • Anna Wadhams, BTW Educator
  • Eileen Watts, Program Director/ Farm Manager
  • Becky Williams, Naturalist
  • Brenda Wright, Naturalist
  • Jonathan Wright, Maintenance Associate
  • David Yarmchuk, Naturalist





An Easy Way to Make Donations!

The Alice Ferguson Foundation has been approved once again for participation in the United Way of the National Capital Area (UWNCA) and the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). Our United Way code is #8083 and our CFC code is #62564.

Please consider us!





Butterfly.  Photo by Doris Sharp It's been a long, hot summer, but that did not stop AFF from lots of fun outdoor activities. We trained a lot of elementary and high school teachers as well as NPS rangers in six different summer institutes, hosted a week:long camp for 4:H kids, finished construction of our new Living Shoreline, and welcomed several new faces for our Trash Initiative team. We are excited about the new school season and look forward to seeing all of you at our gala fall event — Oktoberfest!

NO CHILD LEFT INSIDE: Environmental Education at the Alice Ferguson Foundation

4:H Kids Come to Hard Bargain Farm
By Brenda Wright

Hard Bargain Farm Staff had the opportunity to share the outdoors at the Farm with thirty:five 4:H kids during the week of July 26. The overarching theme of the camp was Habitats. Each day the campers explored what makes up a healthy habitat, food, shelter, water, and space.

The campers had an opportunity to help in the children's garden to see first:hand where their food comes from; they made salsa from fresh vegetables they harvested from the children's garden; and they explored the wetlands by canoe,

Waterboatman and Whirligig BeetleCow milking was a big hit. It was scheduled for only one day, but they kept asking to go back and milk the cow again. As a result of that they were able to make smoothies and butter.

Thanks to our staff member Sharon Rabie and 4:H staff members from the University of DC the kids had an amazing time. Each day we had the kids write comments on a graffiti board and one in particular caught my eye:" Even though I don't like bugs, I continue to tell myself that I can do it!"


Bridging the Watershed Update
By Jeanne Troy

Photo by Bill Townsend
Photo by  Bill Townsend
Photo by  Bill Townsend

Every summer, the National Park Service employs thousands of young people in their parks—work crews painting walls, picking up trash, and completing many other tasks to preserve parks and make them accessible to visitors. These jobs can be eye:openers for many youths, offering them the opportunity to earn a decent wage while learning about a host of careers they may not have realized existed.

Summer has traditionally been a quiet season for BTW program, but this year we kicked back into high gear. After a month of teacher training, much of July and August was dedicated to providing field studies for the eighty youths on nine crews in National Capital Region parks, from Catoctin to Prince William, with a host of parks in between. In addition to traditional Youth Conservation Corps crews and students working in the DC Summer Youth Employment Program, BTW served the 2nd Nature program's nearly fifty youths. 2nd Nature is a pilot partnership made possible through a NPS Challenge Cost Share grant between the NPS and the Latin American Youth Center's Art & Media House. 2nd Nature shared local national parks with DC youth to help inspire art, connect to nature, and strengthened friendships.

Many of these students spend their summer providing brute labor to the parks. A BTW field study is the opportunity to give those jobs some relevance. Why is it so important to pick up trash? A Talkin'Trash field study demonstrates for students the issue of trash as a non:point source pollutant. As one young woman eloquently stated:

"Before the BTW programs, I just thought water was water. I never knew there were ways to measure the water quality:like turbidity and dissolved oxygen. I learned to avoid throwing stuff in the water and I learned new things about what lives in the water."

This understanding of the natural resources they are working within helps students to see not only the importance of their work this summer, but also the breadth of possibilities open to them in the future.

We were particularly thrilled to see that a handful of students who participated in BTW programs through their schools this spring joined summer work crews. This extends their academic experience to a practical one, and demonstrates a deep commitment to environmental and park stewardship. Though students are getting paid for their time, they must report for duty by about 7 a.m. each morning:no small sacrifice for a high school student on summer vacation!


Summer Teacher Institutes
By Christa Haverly

This summer, staff at Hard Bargain Farm led two teacher institutes for thirty:six elementary school teachers within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. They both were very well received. During the institutes, participants became familiar with our curriculum, Potomac River & Chesapeake Bay Issues. They left with a better understanding of the environmental science content as well as how to convey that content to their students in hands:on activities.

Teacher Institute activity Oh Deer.  Photo by Christa Haverly

"HBF will be used in conjunction to the voluntary state curriculum—the appendix of the HBF curriculum will ensure I am adhering to the required indicators while providing me with ways to integrate other content areas.":PGCPS Teacher

Many teachers come to our Institute afraid of bugs, snakes, worms, etc. They spend the majority of their time inside four walls and are disconnected from the natural environment. David Sobel, author of Beyond Ecophobia, states that people have to love nature before we can ask them to heal its wounds. This applies to students as well as their teachers (and the general public). Building trust between HBF staff and our teacher participants is essential in order to get them outside, digging in the soil, dipnetting in the creeks, wading into the Potomac River, and kayaking on the Patuxent Bay. Once outside and as their comfort level increases, the love of nature comes, well, naturally. The teachers will carry this newly gained attitude with them into their classroom and it will rub off on their students. This is a great way to educate and create a generation of students who will love nature and fight to protect it.

Teacher Institute Kayaking.  Photo by Christa Haverly

"I was never fond of science and now I want to go home and test my water and learn what trees are in my backyard!" :DCPS Teacher

"I love kayaking! Who knew? The outdoors becomes comfortable when you have been in it for awhile." – PGCPS Teacher

Finally, teachers learned how to incorporate environmental education in an interdisciplinary way into their curriculum. The reality of public education today is that teachers have an extremely limited amount of time to teach science anymore. Recently, I spoke with a teacher who plans on teaching science every Friday for forty:five minutes. We focused on making connections between lessons in our curriculum and standards that can be taught outside of science. We also discussed how to take lessons in a variety of subject areas and do parts of them outside with students. This way we can use environmental education as a context for learning other subject areas in order to maximize instructional time devoted to learning about the environment.

"I have changed my views about outdoor education. I am now eager and armed with tools needed to teach outdoors." :CCPS Teacher

"Thank you for such a mindset changing experience. I will not be the same educator I was before this. I have learned many ways to use science as the portal to teach English, math, social studies, etc. So much more fun that way." :PGCPS Teacher

"This was such a well run, well organized, well taught, and useful institute. So much better than the professional development I'm used to. I learned a lot and want to take so much of it with me, which is very refreshing. Thank you!" :DCPS Teacher

Teacher Institute Potomac River Wade In.  Photo by Christa Haverly

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Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative

A Trashy Good Time on the Thames
By Deanna Lutz

Deanna and Ben at the Cleanup in London.  Photo credit Art Lutz You may remember meeting Ben Fenton of Thames21 in our June newsletter. Ben is the East London Officer for the ‘River Rescue'project who came to D.C. to participate in our annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup this past April. His kind response to my comment of visiting London one day was to come in August when the weather is lovely and Thames21 would be hosting their four:day Cleaner Thames Challenge. Well, that was all the invitation I needed!

I devoted a bit of my week:long holiday to visiting the Thames21 main office where I met with Ben and the rest of the staff. It was fun to compare Ben's experience with our type of trash (mostly plastic bottles and Styrofoam) to what plagues the Thames (a LOT of plastic bags). Thames21 not only conducts over 150 cleanups throughout the year, but also works to remove graffiti along the waterways, construct habitats for wildlife and to generate connections of communities to their waterways through art and angling programs, among others.

A special part of my visit included a visit to their Bow Locks office in North London where they have created a community garden using recycled materials:discarded beer kegs have been cut in half to use as planters as have stacks of tires. They've constructed a traditional compost bin and worm compost bin designated the "wormery". It really is a lovely place with a mixture of flowers, vegetables and an apple tree alongside the Lea River.

Cleanups are scheduled around the tides as the Thames has a 6:7.5 foot variance. When the tide is out, the muddy foreshore is a wealth of history. Remember that historically this river was not only a means for transportation but also the heart of a city where rubbish and refuse were deposited. Everywhere you look, there are rocks of flint and chalk, bricks and cobblestones, bits of pottery and clay pipes alongside discarded toys, scrap metal, tires and plastic bags… an unbelievable amount of plastic bags.

Ben explained the location of this day's cleanup, the Isle of Dogs foreshore, is located on an inside bend in the Thames where the slower current naturally accumulates the floating bags. The river is quite muddy and the current acts to fill the bags full of mud so they end up mostly buried in the muck. They must be dug up or they'll easily break apart when tugged and then all you'll end up with is a muddy piece of bag in your hand.

Everything that is picked up is placed into large bins along the foreshore and, through a partnership with the Port of London Authority, is removed up by barge once the tide comes in. It really was quite an exciting experience to participate in the cleanup and to learn more about the work of Thames21.

Thank you to Ben, Alice, Ben W., Vic, James, Abby, and Ed, along with volunteers Simon and Susan for welcoming my husband and me and for sharing a bit of their world with us!


Potomac Watershed Trash Summit

Potomac Watershed Trash Summit at the House of SwedenThe Trash Team is in the thick of preparations for the Trash Summit. Held on September 22 from 8:00 am : 4:30 pm, the Summit will include seven Roundtables, a delicious trash free lunch, and many elected officials and stakeholders from around the region. One highlight of the day will be a Plenary Session celebrating Potomac Champions, new Trash Treaty signers, Litter Enforcement Awards, and innovative leaders in the regions.

And even though this big event is seemingly right around the corner we are still busy as bees with our other program areas. A small snapshot from the past month:

  • The much anticipated taglines for the regional anti:litter campaign were unveiled this month by our partners. We, along with our communication firms, our beginning to develop a campaign toolkit that will be available to jurisdictions, schools, agencies, and other stakeholders to integrate into their operations. There will also be a survey of 50 businesses in the DC area, in order to continue to gain an understanding of businesses and their opinions on litter and solutions to litter.
  • The policy working group, chaired by the Surfrider Foundation has continued to meet regularly. A three year plan is in development that has some excited policy options for reducing litter in the Potomac watershed.
  • Our Trash Free Potomac Facilities program is working on a partnership with the EPA's Waste Wise program which will allow us to utilize their reporting system while maintaining our local watershed focus. We are also gearing up for a new launch at the Summit in September which will include a new Guidebook and many new facilities.
  • Enforcement has been quiet these days, but we are reaching out to old and new partners to develop fresh ideas to give enforcement more "force".
  • We are working with the MWCOG Composting Taskforce on policy and business outreach that will improve composting and composting infrastructure in the watershed. Our first goal is to pursue a change in regulation in MD that would allow for food waste composting facilities. A change in regulation will be important for other areas of the Initiative, especially our policy work.

Be sure to mark your calendars for our big event on September 22 at the House of Sweden. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn all about all of the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative's efforts this past year and our plans for the upcoming year.


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Run for the Alice Ferguson Foundation
The Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon : September 19
"Cross the Potomac to an Awakening!"

AFF is one of six beneficiaries of the inaugural Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon. We were carefully selected because of our work and stewardship of the Potomac River. This event is drawing thousands of people and will cross the Potomac from Old Town Alexandria to the National Harbor.

We need runners to run on the "Ferguson Farm" team.

  • When registering on a team, you will have the option of choosing "Ferguson Farm:A. Ferraro".
  • All runners receive a FREE Oktoberfest 2010 T:Shirt to wear during race day.
  • Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon

For detailed information and registration go to the website

Run for time, run for place, run to lose weight, run to raise money for AFF, run in honor or memory of somebody special, or just run as a celebration of your own life.


Join us at our biggest fundraising event!

Alt Washingtonia Schuhplattlers at Hard Bargain Farm.  Photo by Doris Sharp

Alphorn performance at Oktoberfest.  Photo by Richard Marks



Celebrating the Harvest Season

Saturday, October 9, 2010
1:6 PM
Hard Bargain Farm

featuring the Original Bavarian Dance Group
"Alt Washingtonia Schuhplattlers"

Specialties Include:
Delicious German Cuisine; Imported Spaten Beer; Freshly Pressed Apple Cider; Home Made Apple Strudel; Hayrides to the Potomac River; Homemade Delicacies for Sale at the "Country Store"; Silent Auction; and more!

Admission: $8.00 : Children 7 or under Free


AFF Receives the Mayor's Environmental Excellence Award—Partner of the Year
AFF Exec. Director Tracy Bowen and DDOE Director Chrisophe Tulou.  Photo credit: Matthew Alcide
The Award was presented to AFF Executive
Director Tracy Bowen by DDOE's Director
Christophe Tulou.

In August the Foundation received the 2010 Mayor's Environmental Excellence Award. This award recognizes outstanding businesses and organizations for their environmental stewardship, innovative best practices, pollution prevention, and resource conservation.

You can find our "case study" online:


AFF Receives Recognition by Concentra

Concentra Check Presentation
Check presentation photo (from left to right): Council Member
Samuel Dean and County Executive Jack Johnson of Prince George's
County; Tom Hadley, M.D., Concentra's Vice President of Medical
Operations in the Northeast Zone; Tracy Bowen, Executive Director
of the Alice Ferguson Foundation.
During the grand opening of Concentra Urgent Care Center in Capitol Heights on July 29th, the Alice Ferguson Foundation was presented a check of $1,000 as a symbol of Concentra's commitment to community involvement. The Alice Ferguson Foundation was selected as the recipient because of the Foundation's long history of active involvement and service to the Prince George's County community and the surrounding areas.

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Farm Update
by Eileen Watts, Farm Manager

For sale: Chicken broilers and farm fresh eggs are available. If anyone is interested in any of these products, please call the farm office at 301.292.5665.

June and July both set new record high average temperatures and weather extremes for the year continue. It has been hard on man and beast, even plants, to have so many continuous days in the 90:degree digits. Rain has been scant but enough to sustain grass in pastures and our grazers are doing fine.

The farm production is ongoing: two beef calves were born in July; so far 1700 bales of hay have been stored; and thirty broilers were put in the freezer. Plans are made of the slaughter and packaging of three grass:fed steers. This will happen in October.


Entering a New Phase on the Potomac Living Shoreline
By Karen Miles

Shoreline Restoration Project. Photo by Karen Miles Now that construction is completed, monitoring has begun on the Living Shoreline project in Piscataway Park. Much of it will be conducted by biologists Karen Miles (AFF) and Rich Takacs (NOAA), but there will be some other experts brought in as well.

It is important to monitor any dynamic changes in the reconstructed shoreline and we are very fortunate to be one of two NOAA restoration projects in the country to have the services of National Geodetic Survey staff and their super high tech equipment. They are using LIDAR and RTK (real time kinetics) to survey the sand beach and stone sills for movement as small as a few millimeters. I can't wait to see the simulation of the new structures.

Shoreline Monitoring

Wayside interpretation of the project and the habitats and critters that have been helped by it is in the works. There will be three waysides along the boardwalk and each one will focus on something different:

  1. Discovering the project (creating a living shoreline)
  2. Learning shoreline processes (life along the shoreline)
  3. Seeing inland resources (guarding the wetlands).
Look for them to appear sometime this fall.


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July 18 the concert season was opened with a performance by Rick Whitehead, Steve Wolf, and Barry Hart. It was an incredible show and they had us listeners in awe! Below is a short description of the artists:

Rick Whitehead, Steve Wolf and Barry HartRick Whitehead, guitarist, served as a featured soloist for perhaps the finest service band in the country, The Airmen of Note, where he backed everyone from Frank Sinatra, Jr., Joe Williams, Sarah Vaughn to Roy Clark. He now leads one of DC's most exciting jazz combos.

Steve Wolf, bass, has toured internationally with many of the regions finest bands and has backed an array of national artists including: Chuck Berry, The Coasters, Bo Diddley, Doctor John and Springsteen sax man Clarence Clemons. He leads the popular Swing Speak quartet and remains an in:demand sideman.

Barry Hart is everybody's favorite drummer. A technical master, he is as much fun to watch as he is to listen to. His solid work has landed him gigs with—just to name a few—The Tommy Dorsey Band, The Ink Spots, Bob Hope, Cab Calloway, O.C. Smith, Lou Rawls, The Drifters, and Little Anthony and the Imperials.

The next concert will be on August 28, 8 p.m., starring the "Hot Buttered Nuggets"::with Douglas Everton, "Master Vocal Sound Effects Artist", guitar and jazz banjo; Nancy Lisi on standup bass and Zack Bronder on drums.

You can look forward to a robust selection of music, including: Traditional Swing, Vintage Rockabilly, New Orleans Style Dixieland, Jazz, Ragtime and Mississippi Blues. They showcase the music of Louis Armstrong, Elvis Presley, The Mills Brothers, Johnny Cash, Louie Prima, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, The Ink Spots, Fats Domino and many more. During the act, you'll hear a comical vocal version of "Dueling Banjos" and hilarious impersonations of tuba and drum solos.

Check them out and listen in at

Don't miss it—it's live entertainment at its best!


Collaboration with George Washington University Students
By Doris Sharp

GWU Group Photo.  Photo Credit Maura Nelson
GWU Group photo: front row (left to right): Betsy Reid,
Linda Crocker Simmons, Libby Campbell, Doris Sharp;
second row: Julia Washburn, Laura DiSciullo, Sarah
Wohlstadter, Jackie Wright, Elissa Frankle Amy
Rutherford; back row: Maura Nelson, Craig De Voto.

A group of students from the George Washington University's Museum Education Program was introduced to us by Julia Washburn who taught a grant writing course there. As part of the course work the students were required to write grant applications and this group was chosen to do that for AFF's Cultural Arts programs. They visited Hard Bargain Farm twice where we acquainted them with the place, the history and our programs. We had many discussions and answered many questions regarding our needs for the cultural arts and arts collection at the Farm. The students proposed seven grants applications on their last day in school. (By then they had received their Masters degrees.) It was delightful working with them and seeing their interest and excitement and how they connected with the Farm. Below student Laura DiSciullo gives an impression about her experience at Hard Bargain.

Visiting Hard Bargain Farm
By Laura DiSciullo

Libby Campbell gives a tour of the garden.  Photo by Laura DiSciullo
Statue of Alice Ferguson by Lenore Thomas.  Photo by Laura DiSciullo
Hallway in the Farmhouse.  Photo by Laura DiSciullo
When people walk into my humble DC apartment, they immediately say, "You have a lot of books!" So when I first entered the house at Hard Bargain Farm, I felt an instant connection to Alice and Henry Ferguson, whose shelves were filled with such titles as The Book of Pottery and Porcelain, Old Garden Tools, and Starting Right with Milk Goats.

Alice was an author herself; she wrote Adventures in Southern Maryland in 1941. Her creative spirit is also evident in her paintings, gardening, and carpentry. Other creative minds joined her at Hard Bargain Farm, including Lenore Straus Thomas (whose sculptures remain onsite today), and it is easy to see why such imagination flourished here.

Hard Bargain Farm was Alice's muse, and the strong sense of place here still, to this day, awakens a desire to set up a blank canvas or sit down with a journal. During my visit to the site, I was moved to take out my camera and photograph everything from the details of a lily to the riverscape as a whole, where Mount Vernon sits in the distance on the other side.

The creative spirit served me well as I worked on my assignment for a class in the George Washington University's Museum Education Program. In Proposal Writing, one of the last courses on my way toward a Master's of Arts in Teaching, I learned that grant proposals must tell a compelling story. With so many worthy organizations competing for limited funds from grant makers, a successful proposal needs a narrative that makes the reader want to keep reading. This story should also include specifics such as who will be served, how the project will be carried out, and how the program's impact will be evaluated.

When I first began the Proposal Writing course, I suspected that the skills learned would be useful but boring: dry, technical, full of numbers. My specific proposal requested funding for a traveling exhibition of Alice's creative works and art collection at Hard Bargain Farm. At least the subject was interesting: the Alice Ferguson Foundation had a beautiful site; kind staff and volunteers; and content that cut across the areas of science, history, and art.

As I continued to write the proposal, however, I realized that the process, as well as the subject, was engaging me. Here was an unexpected chance to weave some creativity even into a piece of writing that had to answer a particular list of numbered questions. I tried to make my proposal strong by emphasizing what makes Hard Bargain Farm unique, why the Foundation is especially qualified to develop a high:quality exhibition, and the ways in which creative genius blossomed at Hard Bargain Farm.

Hard Bargain Farm is a place that makes you want to paint a painting, snap a picture, plant a garden, or write a book. It was a pleasure to spend a summer morning at this enchanting place, and to have the Alice Ferguson Foundation as a client for my proposal writing assignment.

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