AFF in the News

January 9th, 2015

11.10.2015 – Prince George’s Suite Magazine
All That is Green is New Again

10.2015  Facility Executive Magazine

Students Benefit from One of World’s Only Living Buildings

10.2015  Southern Maryland News
Alice Ferguson Foundation Hosts Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony for New Environmental Education Building

5.2015  Biohabitats
Potomac Watershed Study Center at Hard Bargain Farm

2.2015 – Environmental Building News
Take Control of Your Materials: Four Empowering Lessons Teams That Beat the Red List

01.09.2015 – Grid Magazine
The Living Building Challenge demands that teams exceed LEED requirements to create buildings that restore nature

07.06.2014 – Bay Journal
Three New Reports Talk Trash

06.14.2014 – Chesapeake Bay News
Non-profit combats litter in the Potomac River watershed

04.22.2014 – WTOP
April is Litter Enforcement Month

04.09.2014 – Washington Post
From Bottles to Roofing Materials, Creek Crew Cleans Up

04.07.2014 – WTOP
25 Years Later, Potomac River Cleanup Still Going Strong

04.05.2014 – Washington Post
In Fairfax, Volunteers Fight a Flood of Trash in Little Hunting Creek

04.04.2014 – Betheda Now
April Is Litter Enforcement Month

04.02.2014 – Fredrick News-Post
Volunteers Organize Potomac Watershed Cleanup

04.02.2014 – Prince of Petworth
MPD: “April is Litter Enforcement Month” Tickets Range from $50 to $500

03.30.2014 – Washington Post Express
The Potomac Gets a Pick-Me-Up With a Massive Spring Trash Cleaning

02.01.2014 – WAMU’s “The Animal House”
Future Farming

01.18.2014 – East of the River Magazine
Shepherd Park Clean-up Enters Third Year

01.08.2014 – East of the River Magazine
Results from DC’s Bag Tax, Four Years Out

01.07.2014 – DCist
Survey: Majority Of D.C. Residents Support Plastic Bag Fee

12.17.2013 – Washington Post TV
School Kids Visit Farm, Milk Chance to Learn About Food

12.17.2013 – Washington Post
A lesson on Climate Change at the Hard Bargain Farm in Prince George’s County

12.15.2013 – Washington Post
Prince George’s Children Learn Where Their Food Comes From at Hard Bargain Farm

10.31.2013 – Bay Journal
It’s Time to Give Plastic Bags the Sack in Urban Streams

10.27.2013 – Alexandria News
Alexandria Wins Regional Trash Award

10.09.2013 – The Sentinel
Prince George’s County students visit historic Hard Bargain Farm

10.07.2013 – Washington Post
Shutdown Forces Cancellation of Student Environmental Ed Trips

08.29.2013 – The Sentinel
Hard Bargain Farm Educates, Enlightens Students About Environment

07.25.2013 – The Gazette
Middle school “Green Team” wins video contest

07.21.2013 – The EmeraldPlanet
Creating Living Legacies of Vibrant Soil, Safe Water, and Clean Air

07.11.2013 – Comcast Newsmakers
Conversation with Lori Arguelles- Alice Ferguson Foundation

07.10.2013 – The Sentinel
Middle School Could Win Litter-Prevention Ad Contest

06.09.2013 – Fredrick News-Post
Teaching ‘Green’ at all Levels of Education

05.11.2013 – Comcast Newsmakers
Conversation with Lori Arguelles- Alice Ferguson Foundation

05.06.2013 – Gazette
Accokeek Environmental Center Set to Come ‘Alive’

05.02.2013 – Bay Weekly
Giving a Building Life

05.01.2013 – The Sentinel
Accokeek-Based Environmental Organization Breaks Ground on ‘Living’ Watershed Educational Facility

04.30.2013 – Bay Journal
Potomac Cleanup Collects 286,500 Pounds of Litter

04.26.2013 – ABC 7
Prince George’s County Breaks Ground on a ‘Living Building’

04.21.2013 – WHBC
Don’t Drop That

04.17.2013 – Patch
Alexandria to Participate in Litter Enforcement Month

04.15.2013 – My Green Montgomery
Litter Prevention Video Contest

04.11.2013 – The Sentinel
Volunteers Gather to Clean Up the Potomac River

04.10.2013 – Potomac Almanac
Cleaning up the River

03.11.2013 – Washington Post
County Police to Increase Enforcing Litter Laws in April

03.02.2013 – Washington Parent
Riverkeepers: Watershed Projects for Families

02.02.2013 – Capital Gazette
Montgomery Waterways Show Results From Bag Tax

01.02.2013 – Bay Journal
Tired of Getting Dumped On, Initiative Gets Tough on Trash

10.12.2012 – East of the River Magazine
No More Traveling Trash in Deanwood

10.09.2012 – The Gazette
Students Visit C&O Canal Through Grant Program

08.02.2012 – The Washington Post
D.C. Expands its Anti-Littering Program

08.02.2012 – Bay Journal
Partnership Taking on Trash in the Anacostia

07.06.2012 – The Gazette
Accokeek Nonprofit Touts Planned ‘Living Building’

05.17.2012 – The Gazette
Hard Bargain Farm Seeking Participants to Celebrate National Get Outdoors Day

05.11.2012 – The Prince George’s Sentinel
City Folk Experience Country Life at Annual Spring Farm Festival

05.02.2012 – The Washington Post
The Potomac River, in Good Health and Bad

05.02.2012 – The Washington Post
Potomac River’s and Anacostia River’s Cleanup Makes Progress, but Much Work Remains

05.02.2012 – The Washington Post
The History of the Anacostia River

04.19.2012 – The Gazette County Police Partner with Accokeek Environmental-Preservation Organization to Enforce Litter Laws

04.19.2012 – Prince George’s Sentinel
More Than 70 Volunteers Clean Trash From Potomac River Watershed in Accokeek

04.13.2012 – WAMU
Region Enforces Cleanup, Cracks Down On Litter Laws

04.11.2012 – Southern Maryland Newspaper
County, Foundation Want Volunteers for Potomac River Cleanup April 14

04.05.2012 – The Connection
Thousands To Untrash The River

02.29.2012 – The Washington Post
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch to get hit with debris from Japanese tsunami

10.17.2011 – Prince George’s Sentinel
Trash Summit Sets Goal for Potomac to be Trash Free by 2013

10.09.2011 – The Gazette
Oktoberfest at Accokeek Farm Helps Support Environmental Programs

With new school year, changes are afoot

August 19th, 2014

By Keith Roumfort, AFF Education Program Manager

pollinator garden
The calendar says that January 1 is the start of a new year, but for many who enter classrooms either in front of desks or behind desks, or even send youth to them, September serves as the benchmark for a new year as so many things change. Outside the classroom, the world of nature marks these changes in different ways.
Nature pays no regard to the calendar or the holidays that bookend the summer season. Nature’s cue is the decreasing level of daylight (photoperiod) and decreasing evening temperatures. A careful observer gets to savor these subtle signs all for oneself as the fall season advances.
The tell-tale sign of our planet’s orbit past the summer solstice is the brilliant changes in colors in the leaves of deciduous trees. Those of us in more northern climes get to see this spectacle either in our yards or along roads. The food-producing leaves of deciduous trees face an annual dilemma: how to survive when the length of solar-powering energy decreases. These trees start cutting off these energy-draining organs off their branches, and with that the green-pigmented chlorophyll leaves too revealing red anthocyanins, yellow xanthophylls, and brown tannins. Keep an eye out for black gum trees amongst a forest of trees. Black gum (black tupelo) trees are often the first to flirt with an autumnal palette. Their simple, oval-shaped leaves begin to flicker with red-orange in a prelude to its neighbors’ leaves.
Evening entertainment displays in the backyard change too. Fireflies’ flickering light show fades into a symphony of chirping crickets. Whether it is light or sound, these displays are acts of courtship who don’t mind the human audience. On those crisp, cool fall evenings, count the number of chirps in 14 seconds and add 40 to that number to get the current outdoor, Fahrenheit temperature.
Those with a tuned ear will notice a change in bird calls and songs amongst the trees as light levels dwindle. Snowbirds aren’t just people who vacation in Florida. There are birds who take wing almost overnight for a long journey south in pursuit of more food. The bright songs of warblers and flute-like calls of thrushes become silent in our woods leaving behind the hardier stalwarts, like chickadees and cardinals.
With the ever-growing darkness, many wild plants start preparing for new offspring with forming and dispersing seeds. Whether spread by wind or by animal, seeds lay with dormant expectation until spring. However, not all seeds reach their expected potential; often they are the food source for fattening animals which realize an impending food scarcity is coming.
It’s human curiosity that we like to know what’s coming up around the bend. Nature gives us glimpses of some changes if we attune ourselves to them. If one doesn’t just see but looks, and if one doesn’t just hear, but listens, you can see all the subtle signs of an amazing season of change.

Grow Your Own Sweet Potatoes

May 14th, 2014

By Deanna Lutz, Director of Operations

Potted Plant with Sweet PotatoAbout this time last year, I wrote about how easy it was to grow potatoes in pots, but did you realize that the vigorous sweet potato vine that is commonly found in containers can actually be sprouted from sweet potatoes and that you can even harvest a crop of potatoes at the end of the summer?

swpotatoesSweet potatoes are easy to grow and the vibrant chartreuse foliage of the vine can’t be beat! They will quickly form roots when sprouted in water but did I tell you that sweet potatoes are super easy to grow? You can root them first or simply cut off the end of a sweet potato or two, or depending on how many containers you have and plant in your pot. Potatoes from most supermarkets are treated to inhibit the eyes from growing so try to use organic potatoes.Be sure to select a pot at least 12-15 inches deep and fairly wide to give the potatoes lots of room to grow.

harvestSweet Potato Vine will grow best during the warm days of summer, thriving in sun or shade and prefers moist, well-drained soil. You may begin to enjoy your home-grown sweet potatoes in late summer but it is better to leave them until the leaves begin to yellow and die back. In fact, leave them in the pot for as long as you can as an early frost will not damage them. Once harvested, allow them to mature for a week or so in the warmest area of your house with good circulation to allow the skins to ripen and the flavor of the potato to sweeten. Once mature, your potatoes are ready for use in cooking and will store quite happily in a cool dry place for a month or so. There’s nothing like the unforgettable flavor of a sweet potato that you grew yourself!

“Spring Cleaning” of Potomac River to Provide Key Data for Next Steps in Battle Against Litter

April 4th, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 3, 2014

CONTACT:
Alena Rosen
Communications Coordinator
Tel: 202-417-3523
Cell: 202-580-9045
[email protected]

“Spring Cleaning” of Potomac River to Provide

Key Data for Next Steps in Battle Against Litter

Latest National Geographic FieldScope Technology Deployed to Assist

(Washington, DC) As the weather finally warms, thousands of regional residents will come together this spring to clean their neighborhoods as they participate in the 26th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup on April 5, 2014, the largest regional litter cleanup of its kind. Every April since 1989, the Alice Ferguson Foundation (AFF) has coordinated the Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, engaging more than 124,000 volunteers in conjunction with nearly 500 partner organizations in order to remove nearly 6.5 million pounds of trash from hundreds of sites throughout the five states of the Potomac River Watershed. The data gathered from the hundreds of sites at cleanups during the month of April will be used throughout the year by the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s larger Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative and its partners to help inform solutions to the watershed-wide threat of litter.

For the past 25 years, the Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup has served as a catalyst, building momentum for year-round efforts to create a trash-free Potomac Watershed. “Litter threatens public health and safety as well as our regional economy. It harms wildlife, decreases property values, hurts business, and is a financial burden for law enforcement and local governments,” said AFF Board President Dan Jackson. “The efforts of these dedicated volunteers have a significant regional impact by not only removing tons of harmful litter but by also helping us create greater awareness of the litter issue that plagues our watershed.” Along with increasing public education, AFF’s Trash Initiative takes a comprehensive approach to solving the litter problem, including advocating for increased litter enforcement, source reduction policies, improvement in solid waste management, and increased regulation through MS4 permits.

To aid in these efforts and to build on the Cleanup’s momentum, AFF launched the new platform of the Trash Free Potomac FieldScope Project in partnership with the National Geographic Society. FieldScope, National Geographic Society’s online mapping platform for sharing and visualizing citizen science data, provides a platform for visualizing the volunteer data collected during year-round watershed cleanups through mapping, graphing and analysis tools. The new FieldScope platformallows users to better track trash hot spots, mark progress, collaborate, and target policies intended to reduce litter in the region.

“We are glad to support the efforts of the Alice Ferguson Foundation and the 26th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup by providing a platform for users to create powerful visual representations of the data behind the momentous and important efforts of volunteers who help keep the Potomac watershed clean,” said Sean O’Connor, the program manager for Educational Mapping at the National Geographic Society.

Also this April, AFF is sponsoring the 4th Annual Litter Enforcement Month (LEM). During the month, participating jurisdictions will be actively enforcing pre-existing litter laws with the objective of raising awareness about litter illegal dumping and related crimes; the laws associated with them; and their effects on our communities, our economy, and the Potomac River watershed. Participating jurisdictions in Maryland include Montgomery County Police and Prince George’s County Police. In Virginia, participating

Entities include the City of Alexandria Police and Code Administration, City of Falls Church Police, Manassas City Police and Prince William County Police. Other participating jurisdictions include theDistrict of Columbia Metropolitan Police, Metro Transit Police and the United States Park Police.

“Past results from the Annual Cleanup and Litter Enforcement Month demonstrate that working collaboratively and raising public awareness can have a powerful impact in our watershed,” said AFF Executive Director Lori Arguelles. “With innovative tools such as FieldScope, we hope that our efforts in April will spark continued commitment throughout the year and build on individual actions that drive behavior change.”

The Cleanup is sponsored by: Beveridge and Diamond; Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company; Colornet Printing; The District Department of the Environment; ExxonMobil; Gangplank Marina Slipholders Association; Greater Prince George’s County Business Roundtable; Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation; MGM Resorts International; Mom’s Organic Market; National Geographic FieldScope; National Marine Sanctuary Foundation; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-Marine Debris Program; Prince George’s County Department of Natural Resources; REI; Southern Maryland Electronic Cooperative; Starbucks; and Washington Gas.

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, DC. 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.

###

Editor’s Note:

This is a highly visual story and will feature opportunities to interview participants and shoot great video or still photos demonstrating the pervasive problem of trash in our waterways. To cover a site, please contact Alena Rosen at 202.580.9045 or email [email protected]

Elected officials participating at cleanup sites throughout the watershed include:

  • Councilmember David Grosso, Washington, DC
  • Councilmember Muriel Bowser, 4th Ward, DC
  • Delegate Barbara Frush, 21st District, MD
  • Commissioner Candice Quinn Kelly, Charles County, MD
  • Commissioner Jack Sims, District Heights, MD
  • Councilman Nicholas Scarpelli, Cumberland, MD
  • Councilwoman Julie Palakovich Carr, Rockville, MD
  • Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak, Frederick, MD
  • Senator Adam Ebbin, District 30, VA
  • Chairman Mark Sicjkesm 43rd District, VA
  • Delegate David Bulova, 37th District, VA
  • Delegate Alfonso H. Lopez, 49th District, VA
  • Delegate Marcus Simon, 53rd District, VA
  • Delegate Michael Folk, 63rd District, WV

15,000 Volunteers Expected to Participate in Regional “Spring Cleaning” of the Potomac River

March 26th, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 26, 2014

CONTACT:
Alena Rosen
Tel: 202-417-3523
Cell: 202-580-9045
[email protected]

 

MEDIA ADVISORY
15,000 Volunteers Expected to Participate in Regional
“Spring Cleaning” of the Potomac River

(Washington, DC)  As the weather finally warms, thousands of regional residents will come together this spring to clean their neighborhoods as they participate in the 26th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup on April 5th. The annual Cleanup is part of the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s larger Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative, which works to develop and implement solutions to the pervasive problem of trash.  The data gathered from the hundreds sites during cleanups during the month of April is used throughout the year by the Initiative to help track trash hot spots, mark progress, and target policies intended to reduce litter in the region.

What: Since 1989, the Alice Ferguson Foundation has coordinated the Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup every April, engaging more than 124,000 volunteers, nearly 500 partner organizations, and removing close to 6.5 million pounds of trash from the Potomac River Watershed. Final results from the 2013 Cleanup include:

  • 312 Total Tons Removed (524,000 lbs)
  • 14,586 Volunteers
  • More than 495 participating groups and partners
  • 27,200 Plastic bags, 193,000 Beverage Containers,  27,400 Cigarette Butts, and 1,314 Tires Removed
  • 633 Cleanup Sites in Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia

Where: Cleanups will be held at hundreds of sites throughout the Potomac Watershed, which includes the District of Columbia and parts of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Locate a site here.

When:  The majority of cleanups will be held on Saturday, April 5, 2014 from 9:00am-12:00pm.

Who: Thousands of volunteers from around the Watershed, elected officials, community businesses and leaders, NGOs, teachers, and government agency leaders. Some highlighted participants include:

  • Councilmember David Grosso, Washington, DC
  • Councilmember Muriel Bowser, 4th Ward, DC
  • Delegate Barbara Frush, 21st District, MD
  • Commissioner Candice Quinn Kelly, Charles County, MD
  • Commissioner Jack Sims, District Heights, MD
  • Councilman Nicholas Scarpelli, Cumberland, MD
  • Councilwoman Julie Palakovich Carr, Rockville, MD
  • Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak, Frederick, MD
  • Senator Adam Ebbin, District 30, VA
  • Chairman Mark Sicjkesm 43rd District, VA
  • Delegate David Bulova, 37th District, VA
  • Delegate Alfonso H. Lopez, 49th District, VA
  • Delegate Marcus Simon, 53rd District, VA
  • Delegate Michael Folk, 63rd District, WV

The Cleanup is sponsored by: Beveridge and Diamond; Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company; Colornet Printing; The District Department of the Environment; ExxonMobil; Gangplank Marina Slipholders Association; Greater Prince George’s County Business Roundtable; Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation; MGM Resorts International; Mom’s Organic Market; National Geographic FieldScope; National Marine Sanctuary Foundation; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—Marine Debris Program;  Prince George’s County Department of Natural Resources; REI; Southern Maryland Electronic Cooperative; Starbucks; and Washington Gas

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

###

Editor’s Note:

This is a highly visual story, and will feature opportunities to interview participants and shoot great video or still photos demonstrating the pervasive problem of trash in our waterways. To cover a site, please contact Alena Rosen at 202.580.9045 or email [email protected]

 

Potomac River Watershed Cleanup: Saturday April 5th Family Fun

March 25th, 2014

Guest post by Jessica McFadden, Blogger

Your family can get a jump on environmental activism (and fun!) before Earth Day by participating Saturday April 5th in the largest effort to clean both the Anacostia and Potomac watersheds, the annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup

This area-wide Cleanup offers many local sites where families can help clean litter from along streams and river banks. From Sligo Creek to Rock Creek Park to Northwest Branch, you can find a local clean-up site that is close to your home and close to your heart. Check out the map for locations throughout the DC Metro area in DC, Maryland and Virginia where you and your kids can serve and learn.

Cleanup in VALocal cleanup events mobilize volunteers young and old to pick up the trash littering our watersheds, and litter removal has a huge impact on animals in multiple ecosystems. Additionally, the Alice Ferguson foundation website states, “The Cleanup provides a transforming experience that engages citizens and community leaders and generates momentum for change.”

My favorite local environmental educator and activist, Jennifer Chambers of Hiking Along, says, “Kids like to feel impassioned that they are making a difference, and removing litter is an easy and productive way to feel positive about doing that.”

Jennifer Chambers is also the author of the great book for kids which bring environmentalism to their level, Watershed Adventures of a Water Bottle. It is 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. 100% of the profit from the sale of the book is being equally divided between the Chesapeake Bay Trust and the Surfrider Foundation’s Rise Above Plastics program.

This book is a great read to share with your kids before or after participating in the April 5th clean up closest to your home! I will be reading with Charlie, Eve and Alice before we head to one of the 12 Silver Spring clean up locations we have to choose from. Please join us.

See original post here.

It’s All Fun and Games and Learning

February 25th, 2014

By: Emily Drobenak, Schoolyards as Classrooms Project partner teacher at Accokeek Academy

In early February each year, there is a convergence of minds in Ocean City, MD from an endless arena of education outlets. This was the second year in which I had the good fortune to attend the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education conference through my school’s partnership with the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Schoolyards as Classrooms Project. Last year, I gained invaluable information from a number of mini-sessions from waste reduction to excellence in STEM teaching. This year, I was able to dive deeper with a half-day workshop titled “Learn to Play, Play to Learn.” This session addressed environmental education practically and socially. Our energetic and enthusiastic instructors put us right into the games to experience the learning activities hands on.

Teacher's InstituteI was surprised but delighted when so many of the initial activities turned out to be teambuilding exercises. We gained a level of comfort and were able to get the most out of our workshop once a comfortable classroom environment was established. Meanwhile, we were also subtly, but purposefully learning and talking about our natural environment. These activities were fun, felt like games, AND had the underlying purpose of teaching. One such game was called Bats and Moths. The class forms a cave by grasping hands while a student is blindfolded in the center as the bat. In a fantastically scientific rendition of a game similar to “Marco Polo” or “Sharks and Minnows,” the bat must call out to the moth, another student, who must echo the calls. A group of adults, who may have long forgotten the joys of playing, had a blast playing, and so would students. Meanwhile, they are experiencing an animal adaptation that will open the doors for further discussion and inquiry.

The session really brought to life for me how important playing can be when integrated with learning. The activities will get kids excited about their natural environment. If they enjoy learning about the world around them, they will want to protect it and secure it for the future. While it is already well past halfway through the year, I plan to incorporate these activities into my classroom and schoolyard activities. My students will soon be learning specifically about animal adaptations and “Bats and Moths” would be a great exploration of that. However, we will also be able to use the game Owls and Crows to explore other content areas while keeping our local environment in the forefront.

Our instructors referenced a book from the seventies, “New Games,” and nature educator Joseph Cornell as great resources to use playing to learn in environmental education. I encourage you to look into the resources for yourself and help your students learn to play and play to learn!

Three Days and Two Nights at Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center

January 28th, 2014

By Brenda Wright, Hard Bargain Farm Education Center Coordinator

“Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.”

John Muir, A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf

 

My name is Brenda Wright and I have been a naturalist for the Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center for the past 20 years. It is difficult for me to imagine that the kids I worked with back in 1994 are now adults with possibly their own children. I hope, if I had any impact on them at all, that they are sharing the world around them with the children who may be a part of their lives.

In these 20 years of teaching (and still ongoing) it never ceases to amaze me that there are 10-year old kids who, for whatever reason, have never had the opportunity to play in the woods. As a child I spent so much time in the woods exploring the natural world. My friends and I would spend whole days balancing on logs crossing the swamps and small creeks, looking at wild flowers and collecting as many different types of beautiful colored leaves as we could in the fall. Leaf rubbings were a favorite of mine.

I work with all ages of kids, but the 10-year olds generally spend the night, and for some this is not only the first time they will be walking through the woods but the first time they have spent a night away from home. During their stay at Hard Bargain Farm, many milestones are reached. Feeling the independence of being “on their own”, really getting to know their classmates and actually having the time to bond with other classmates that they may never have even taken the time to get to know before. It is an experience and transformation for many kids that will last a lifetime.

Last summer, the Alice Ferguson Foundation was fortunate to receive a grant from DDOE (DC Department of Environment). This organization has awarded many grants to the Foundation that made it possible for students in Washington, DC to visit the Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center. The latest grant differs in that they are funding the program for three days and two nights; this has been an amazing opportunity for the staff, students, and teachers. Having the extra day and evening with these students has been so rewarding. It gives us more time to help the kids to feel comfortable in the out of doors, being away from home, and bonding with their classmates. I hope it is a trend that will continue. These students have their campfire on the second night and during that time we ask them to reflect on their visit, and some of what they said was very touching and rewarding. Here are a few of the quotes: “I got to do things I never would have done”; “being in such a beautiful place”; “learn about birds, I did not know how amazing they were”; “I never thought I would stand next to a real goat”–and it goes on and on. I would like to end with a video of a teacher who was present on one of these trips.

And the Winner Is… Walker Mill Middle School

December 13th, 2013

By Everette Bradford, Community Outreach Liaison

Walker Mill Middle School officially adopted the Trash Free Schools project in the fall of the 2012-2013 school year, which gave momentum for the school to create a green team to tackle various environmental issues around the school including recycling and reducing waste.  Sidney Bailey, the founder of Walker Mill’s Green Team and claims that it was the motivation of the students and their will to recycle more that led him to join the Trash Free Schools project and create the green team.  Since its inception, the Green Team has been a rapidly growing entity at Walker Mill, where the students and teachers drive environmental stewardship and education through the hallways of the school.

Even though Mr. Bailey is no longer at Walker Mill Middle School, the project by no means is suffering. This year’s Green Team Leader, Mrs. Keisha Bennaugh is heading up the project and taking it in the right direction. The Green Team has doubled in size this past year and now has more than 100 students and multiple teachers. The students will continue recruit new members and teachers until they reach the goal of having school-wide participation in their efforts.

To help with their recruitment efforts, Mrs. Bennaugh brings her eclectic and artsy vibe to enhance the “green-movement” at the school. Students on the Green Team have worked with Mrs. Bennaugh to put fashionable flair on their Green Team attire,  which they are allowed to wear outside on their uniforms on Fridays. She also worked with the students to  create a large “green” mural in the schools media center. Along with encouraging creativity, the Green Team faculty also  challenge the students to take responsibility and work on professionalism and hospitality skills as they work to haul the schools recyclables from the school’s classrooms and offices.

DSC_0239

The Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Executive Director, Lori Arguelles, addresses the Green Team during the ceremony.

In addition to the great work that is taking place in the school, on November 15, 2013, the Green Team was awarded with their $1000 Grand Prize for winning the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Litter Prevention Video Contest. The school hosted a small ceremony in the media center that included guest speaker such as;Lori Arguelles, Executive Director of the Alice Ferguson Foundation; Mayor Kito James, Town of Capitol Heights; Sidney Bailey, former Green Team Leader and Vice Principal at Center City PCS; and Angela Angle, Policy Aide, Office of Prince Georges County Council Member Derrick L. Davis. Walker Mill Middle School was also presented with Certificates of Appreciation from the Town of Capitol Heights and County Council Member Derrick L. Davis.

The Green Team will utilize their prize money to research and retrofit the school with plants that will improve the indoor air quality. The students also have a desire to procure more recycling bins for classrooms and the hallways and begin greening and planting exercises on the schools exterior. Other future projects for the Green Team include creating a central meeting location for the Green Team, joining in on the Anacostia River Restoration Project efforts, and looking to host a trash free carnival. In the meantime, the Green Team will begin planning activities for the annual Potomac River Watershed School-Yard Cleanup and continually seek more funding sources to complete their projects.

Hundreds of Area Students Impacted by Federal Shutdown and Closure of National Parks

October 7th, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                    

October 7, 2013

Accokeek, MD—The federal government shutdown and park closures have resulted in the cancellation or alteration of several local environmental education programs, impacting hundreds of students who normally visit Piscataway National Park that spans 5,000 acres across southern Prince George’s and Charles County. Through cooperative agreements with the National Park Service, two local non-profit organizations use the park’s land to further their missions of providing outdoor educational experiences to students and the public about history, agriculture, and the environment. The Accokeek Foundation’s entire campus, used for history education and agricultural training, is located within the boundaries of Piscataway Park, while the Alice Ferguson Foundation depends on access to the Potomac River through the park for its Hard Bargain Farm Education Center environmental education programs as well as access to other area national parks for its Bridging the Watershed program.

The Accokeek Foundation leads hands-on school tours at the National Colonial Farm and Piscataway Park, reaching over 3,000 youth annually. October is the beginning of the fall tour season, and many of the scheduled tours have been cancelled due to the shutdown, disappointing teachers and students who look forward to these outdoor experiences each year. Jeannette Wheeler, a Prince George’s County 6th grade educator whose tour is scheduled for October 17, is hoping that “the shutdown ends soon so [she] can take students on their field trip.” Another teacher whose tour was cancelled due to the shutdown’s closure of national parks commented, “We will readily reschedule if we cannot come next week, as we always love our trips to Accokeek and look forward to [the park’s] reopening.” The education program has already been impacted by funding cuts to county public schools, limiting availability of funds for transportation. “The Accokeek Foundation has been seeking creative ways to help schools continue to bring students for farm tours,” said Brittany Barnes, Development Manager for the Accokeek Foundation who has worked with the National Park Foundation to provide transportation grants last year to Prince George’s County schools. “The government shut down greatly hinders our ability to be able to deliver grant commitments for education without access to the parks,” Barnes stated.

The Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center uses experiential learning techniques to teach environmental studies to nearly 5,000 elementary school students annually on their 330-acre working farm on the banks of the Potomac River. More than a third of the students served by the program are at-risk youth from the region’s underserved communities in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. “For most of our students this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience a working farm and to have such a personal experience with nature,” said Lori Arguelles, Executive Director of the Alice Ferguson Foundation. The Foundation donated the land to Piscataway National Park when the park was created in the 1960s and a large portion of students’ field studies are spent in the park along the Potomac River shoreline. However, due to the closure of the National Parks, the 91 students who visited this past week and the 142 students expected next week are missing out on one of the pinnacle experiences of their time at HBF. “Though we have made every effort to preserve the educational value of these programs, the inability to utilize these lands inhibits our ability to provide the outdoor field study experience teachers and students have planned for,” explained Arguelles.

In addition to Hard Bargain Farm, Bridging the Watershed (BTW) is an experience-based, science-driven environmental education program of the Alice Ferguson Foundation conducted in partnership with the National Park Service and regional school systems to promote student academic achievement, personal connections with the natural world, lifelong civic engagement, and environmental stewardship. BTW is now greatly affected by the inability to foster student science in national parks.

Thus far nearly 365 high school and middle school students in area school systems will be unable to conduct educational science investigations in national parks. Teachers have spent many hours in instructional preparation and, in some circumstances, securing significant funds, usually around $600 for student transportation to a national park. “We hope this congressional situation is resolved quickly, so students can learn and experience in what historian Wallace Stegner called ‘America’s Best Idea’,” said Keith Roumfort, Bridging the Watershed Program Manager.

The Accokeek Foundation also operates a certified organic farm that was created as a model to teach sustainable agriculture to aspiring farmers. The Ecosystem Farm at Piscataway Park has been the center of a beginning farmer training program for over 20 years. “Because the land we use for education is federal property, we are unable to carry out any of those public services that we typically provide for the community,” stated Lisa Hayes, President and CEO of the Accokeek Foundation. While public access to the visitor facilities for recreation and programming has been closed, essential personnel are able to report to the site and take care of the park’s resources including the livestock, farm crops, and site and building security. “Essential personnel like our farmers continue to work daily on site to ensure that the animals and crops are cared for,” Hayes continued, “and we have made arrangements for our Community Supported Agriculture program and On Farm Market customers can continue to receive their produce at an off-site venue in the community. We are grateful to the community for its support during this challenging time, but eager to get back to business as usual once the parks reopen.”

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About the Accokeek Foundation: The Accokeek Foundation is a non-profit, educational organization whose mission is to connect people to history, agriculture, and nature through innovative educational programs and engaging visitor experiences. Using Piscataway Park as its outdoor “campus” the Foundation’s operations include the National Colonial Farm (living heritage exhibit), the Ecosystem Farm (demonstrations in sustainable agriculture), and preservation of heritage livestock and heirloom seeds. Visit www.accokeekfoundation.org to learn more.

About the Alice Ferguson Foundation: 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. Learn more at www.fergusonfoundation.org

MEDIA CONTACT:

Accokeek Foundation: Anjela Barnes
[email protected] 301-283-2113 ext 34

Alice Ferguson Foundation: Alena Rosen    
[email protected] 202-580-9045