Upcoming 2017 Shows and Concerts

July 3rd, 2017

We are well into our summer theater and concert season – don’t miss out! Scroll down for a listing of upcoming concerts, events, and plays:

July 15: Concert in the Woods: Blues Night
Don’t miss this special evening of red hot blues music with three of the most respected blues masters in the Mid Atlantic region: Linwood Lee Taylor, bassist Steve Wolf and drummer extraordinaire Joe Wells.

August 4-19: Theater in the Woods: Equivocation
William Shakespeare finds himself between a powder keg and the crown in this brilliant play by Bill Cain, directed by Craig Hower. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m.

August 13: Yoga in the Woods: Yoga & Wine
Join us for this all-level Yoga class in a beautiful outdoor amphitheater for an evening of community, yoga, and wine led by Yoga instructor Sean Fraser!

August 26: Concert in the Woods: 8 Ohms
Join us for an evening concert featuring the reggae funk sound of the 8 Ohms. Preview the sound and voice of the 8 Ohms at 8ohmsband.com.

Sept. 23: Concert in the Woods: Lynn Hollyfield
Join us at for a concert of beautiful music with Lynn Hollyfield, Steve Wolf (bass), Dave Abe (violins, mandolin, pennywhistle) and Jimmy Brink (percussion) with special guest, Keely Hollyfield (harmony vocals).

Sept. 8-17: Theater in the Woods: Bambi
A stage version of Austrian novelist Felix Salten’s Bambi, originally written in the 1920s. Bambi: A Life in the Woods is an eloquent and haunting tale of growing up that will appeal to children and adults alike. Performances are Fridays at 8:00pm; Saturdays & Sundays at 3:00pm.

Sept. 24: Paint in the Woods: Wine & Design
Join us at our theater in the woods to unleash your inner artist in a fun and social environment. Meet neighbors, make new friends, and create a piece of art under the guidance of artist Vicki Marckel. We provide everything, just sign up, show up, and paint!

Oct. 6-21: Theater in the Woods: The Weir
Written by Conor McPherson and directed by Brooke L. Howells, The Weir is a haunting play with its roots in Irish folklore that examines chances of missed opportunity and the loneliness that results. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm.

Oct. 28: The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Midnight showing! Grab your fishnets, and jump to the Hard Bargain Amphitheater’s feature presentation of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW! Coming this October, TIME WARP back to the 1970s and shimmy the night away to the voices of Magenta, Frank N Furter & Riff Raff.

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

October 29th, 2015

By JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES  [email protected]
October 29, 2015


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Online article

Bringing Solar Power to One of the Most Environmentally-Friendly Buildings in the World

October 14th, 2015

Read the article: Bringing Solar Power to One of the Most Environmentally-Friendly Buildings in the World


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

Celebrating 60 Years of Service to Our Community

October 24th, 2014

By Lori Arguelles, AFF Executive Director

It was 60 years ago today that the pioneers of the Alice Ferguson Foundation (AFF) realized the first fruits of their labors. On October 24, 1954 the Articles of Incorporation for the Foundation were approved and AFF was “born.” This momentous act has had lasting impact during the last six decades including:

– Serving more than 300,000 students through our environmental education programs at our Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center and in national and state parks through our Bridging the Watershed Program.

alice henry – Engaging more than 130,000 volunteers in the annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup by removing more than 7 million pounds of debris over the past 26 years.

– Leading the way in energy efficient and green building design by embracing the Living Building Challenge © as we construct and renovate buildings on our educational campus. The net-zero energy, net-zero water, and zero-waste criteria, combined with carbon-neutral and non-toxic, non-polluting component requirements make this a ground-breaking and landscape-altering undertaking.

Throughout the decades, the Foundation has stayed true to its guiding principles of education, inspiration, and innovation. And the impact is both deep-rooted and widespread as evidenced by the experience of one 10-year old student from Heather Hills Elementary School:

“I couldn’t wait until my overnight trip to Hard Bargain Farm. My first activity was a hike through the woods. We learned about pollution and how it harms living organisms. That one hike changed my whole point of view about the environment. In the future I see myself stopping someone from littering to protect the animals and nature.”

Surely our namesake, Alice Ferguson, would appreciate how her vision of a special place in nature has been embraced by student and adult learners alike. And we are proud that Alice’s vision for Hard Bargain Farm has been recognized as nationally significant. Just in time for our Diamond Jubilee celebration the Farm was selected for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. This prestigious roster is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. As anniversary gifts go, this is definitely a gem!IMG_0486
But the greatest gift of all is the privilege of sharing the wonder and beauty of nature with a child for the first time. Nothing can match the eye-opening and often life-changing experiences that come from this connection. We couldn’t do any of this without the generous support of friends like you. Thank you for helping us to make a difference!
If you’d like to make a special gift in honor of our anniversary, please visit our donation page. Thank you for your support, and Happy Anniversary!

The Many A’s of Alice L. L. Ferguson

March 3rd, 2014

By Lori Arguelles, Executive Director, Alice Ferguson Foundation

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHave you ever stood on Mount Vernon’s portico and partaken of the pastoral panorama across the Potomac River? Have you ever wondered how such an amazing preservation effort was accomplished? It was all made possible thanks to the vision and leadership of three women from the 20th century, whose dedicated efforts have helped ensure that the vista is as remarkable today as it was when it was built nearly 250 years ago in the mid -18th century.

I invite you to come and learn more about Ann Pamela Cunningham, Alice L. L. Ferguson, and Congresswoman Frances Payne Bolton, all of whom blazed new trails in historic preservation and land conservation. Stories of these remarkable women will be featured as part of Women with a View, on Sunday, March 9, 2014 at 2 p.m. The event is hosted by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association at the Smith Auditorium at George Washington’s Mount Vernon and will be followed by a tour of the mansion and cocktail reception.

Every day, as Executive Director of the Alice Ferguson Foundation, I have the privilege of carrying on the legacy of our truly amazing namesake and I am often struck the breadth and depth of her endeavors.  I’ve taken to referring to her abundant accomplishments as the ‘Many A’s of Alice’ which is in fact the title of the talk I will give in conjunction with the symposium on March 9th.   I hope you will join us for this event,  please visit the Women With a View website for more information and to purchase tickets.  In the meantime, here’s a little preview:

As a woman coming of age at the turn of the 20th century, Alice L. L. Ferguson lived and worked during both World Wars, The Jazz Age, the Great Depression and the New Deal that brought intellectual energy to Washington, DC.  During this time the modern woman challenged past norms finding a new voice through education, creative expression, travel, activism and independence.  Alice was an accomplished artist that trained at the Corcoran School of Art.  Her marriage to Henry G. Ferguson, a world-renowned geologist, presaged a life of adventure and travel that also involved purchasing a ’country home’—Hard Bargain Farm–in Accokeek, MD.  This avant-garde adventurer became an architect, agrarian, activist, archeologist and author, all as a result of that purchase.  Instrumental in shaping and ultimately preserving the landscape now known as the Mount Vernon viewshed, we owe much to the amazing life and legacy of Alice L. L. Ferguson.

Getting To Know Alice – The Search Continues

August 19th, 2013

By Linda Crocker Simmons

Alice L.L. Ferguson (1880-1951) Ca. 1930s –1940s By Helen Sewell Rennie (1906-1989) Pen and Ink on Flesh -colored Paper Recto, pencil, l.r.:Alice L.L. Ferguson” 12″ x 18 “ Promised gift of Linda Crocker Simmons with the assistance of Rob Delamater of the LostArt Salon, San Francisco, California.

It has been more than a year since a significant discovery relating to Alice L.L. Ferguson and her life as an artist has been made, but last month the drawing illustrated here, was found. Discovered during a recent Internet search it has been acquired from the California dealer who was selling it in a group of drawings labeled “New Deal”.  All the drawings in that folder were created by Helen Sewell Rennie (1906-1989) sometime during the 1930s or 1040s. Not much has been yet learned about Rennie except that she like Alice had a career in the arts and was active during the 1930s and later in the Washington region.

Rennie was a native of Maryland and had, as Alice had done, studied art at the Corcoran School of Art (today the Corcoran College of Art and Design). It is conceivable they met there or at one of the regional arts groups to which both belonged. Very likely they had professional art connections or friendships with one or more other artists associated with the various Federal arts projects taking place in the Washington metropolitan region during the 1930s. An immediate candidate is Lenore Thomas (1909-1988), a tenant of Longview, the close by property which Alice had developed in hopes of selling.  But once occupied by Lenore and her fellows Alice found the arrangement too enjoyable to want it to end. Like Hard Bargain Farm the tenants at Longview had their “Gang” of guests whom Alice described in her book, Adventures in Southern Maryland (p.31) as compared to Hard Bargain Farm’s as “more artistic and more sure they are intellectual”.hbf Alice & unknown

Artists are kindred spirits and often share common characteristics and activities. Congregating to make art is one — just what Rennie has depicted in her spare line drawing of Alice. The easel which would have held the canvas or a tacked-up sheet of paper is not shown but rather suggested, just out of sight. Alice’s right hand is in midair holding either a stick of charcoal, or a pencil, maybe even a brush, reaching for that easel.

Rennie’s drawing tells us further things about her subject: Alice was a smoker. In her left hand she holds one of those ubiquitous signifiers of the “new” woman of the 20th century.  The plume of smoke also serves as a sad foreshadower of one of the elements which likely contributed to Alice’s medical problems in the years before her death in 1951.

Rennie has captured her subject quite accurately; the angled profile of Alice’s face would have been known to other artists, friends and family. By the time this drawing was made Alice was well into her 50s.  She wore her hair close to her head, short above the ears. Comparisons with photographs of Alice from about the same time show the profile with a strong nose—somewhat exaggerated—and and short hair.

The outfit she wears could be either one of those stylish but comfortable dresses of the period, or a painter’s smock. Such accouterments of an artist’s trade as smocks, canvases, easels and brushes have vanished from Hard Bargain Farm. All evidence of Alice at work making the lovely paintings that hang in the Farmhouse is gone. But with the fortuitous discovery of this little drawing we can once again see Alice, the painter, as her image was captured by another artist and possible colleague during the last decade or so of her life in the act of creating a work of art.

The Blue Rhino—Symbol of Good Times at Hard Bargain Farm

June 18th, 2013

By Doris Sharp, Cultural Heritage Coordinator

Visually memorable for visitors, especially school children, the Blue Rhinoceros is a hefty, humorous sentry to a creative legacy and is simply unforgettable and remains for many the image of their time at Hard Bargain. It is a physical reminder of the shared interests and impulses of Alice Ferguson and Lenore Thomas, two women artists who played significant roles in the creative life of Hard Bargain Farm. This work of art is one of the most interesting among the important pieces in the collection at Hard Bargain Farm.

Thomas came to the Washington region around 1935/6 and was one of the tenants who rented Longview, a house designed, built and owned by Alice Ferguson, and located in Accokeek. She was first employed by the “Special Skills Division” of the Resettlement Administration of the Department of Agriculture. Her work involved creating sculptures for various government housing projects then being developed across the country.

bluerhinoconstructionAlthough the workshop for the Special Skills Division was in Greenbelt, Maryland, Thomas recounted how her daily routine “was to go into Washington and check into the project, then go out to Greenbelt and work the remainder of the day.” The Greenbelt workshop is described in a contemporary newspaper article:

At the Greenbelt resettlement workshop where Miss Thomas and her co-workers model in clay designs to be used on school buildings on this and other projects partially finished models can be seen. …. Many new experiments are being conducted in the work shop: among them is a “tryout with wet brick.” Pointing to the unfinished outlines of a huge hippopotamus, various animals and birds… [Thomas explained]… [a]fter the designs are finished each brick is numbered, glazed and is then ready for use. It requires about 1,000 bricks to construct a large animal pattern.

This describes the design and materials as well as the manner of assembly for Blue Rhinoceros at Hard Bargain Farm.

StudentbluerhinoThe “Blue Rhino” as we call it has been on sentinel duty in front of the Farmhouse for more than 70 years. The environmental impact—heat, freezes, rain and snow—has become severe. Mortar cracked and bricks became loose so that we had to stop schoolchildren “riding” Blue Rhino, which is the first thing they want to do when they see it. We received a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities to conduct a professional assessment of its condition and needed treatment.  After receiving a complete report a private generous donor stepped in to foot the bill for the restoration of the Blue Rhino in memory of his wife who was teaching children at Hard Bargain Farm for more than twenty years. The work will start in mid-August and should not take more than a week assuring that the children can “ride” the Blue Rhino and have fun again when the new school year begins.

Chesapeake Conservation Corps: Inspiring a Move from the Bay Area to the Bay Area

March 6th, 2013

By Zoë Unruh, BTW Educator Specialist

A common question people ask me when they find out I’m from San Francisco is, “Seriously? Why did you leave?” My answer? The Chesapeake Conservation Corps. During my year of service, I worked with Montgomery County Public Schools Outdoor Environmental Education Program at the Lathrop E. Smith Center in Rockville. My capstone project as a Corps member at the Smith Center was to strengthen the service-learning component of the sixth grade Residential Program. At the end of my year of service, I landed a job with the Alice Ferguson Foundation (AFF), a non-profit with 60 years of experience in connecting people to the natural world, sustainable agricultural practices and the cultural heritage of their local watershed through education, stewardship and advocacy. This year, AFF is looking for a Corps member to assist with all aspects of AFF’s outreach environmental education programming, action project development and implementation of the Schoolyards as Classroom Project and Trash Free Schools programs. With my experience both as a Corps member and with AFF, this opportunity is the perfect way to start your career in the environmental field.

Even though most of my time was spent at the Smith Center, I didn’t just learn skills specific to MCPS Outdoor Environmental Education. I also learned how to develop a project and write a grant to fund it; how to install water bars on a trail; how to prepare an energy audit; how to design and present a poster; how to interview for a job; and, probably most importantly, how to network. That is the true beauty of the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s model – it provides ample opportunities to explore all sectors of the environmental field as well as prepares Corps members for a career beyond their year of service. This is accomplished in several different ways: (1) Corps members are expected to complete site visits at other organizations in the program – an opportunity to see what work is done elsewhere in the environmental community as well as a chance to meet important individuals that have dedicated their professional lives to environmental work; (2) Corps members are expected to attend professional development sponsored by the Trust – a great way to build up your experience to make yourself more attractive to future employers; and (3) Corps members have the opportunity to attend Chesapeake Bay Watershed-wide networking events – the best way to make contacts in the region if you’re interested in continuing work in the environmental field. I commonly hear of two problems with internship programs: (1) the intern is stuck doing busy work for the organization and does not benefit professionally, or (2) the intern does not provide any deliverables for the organization. The Chesapeake Conservation Corps model allows for self-direction for both the Corps member and the host organization – effectively getting rid of those common problems by allowing the two parties involved to mutually benefit. AFF has chosen significant projects for you to take ownership of, while providing flexibility for you to develop your own interests and passions. You will no doubt finish your year of service feeling like you have contributed to AFF’s mission and left a lasting impact on the organization, while at the same time gaining invaluable experience to continue a career in the environmental field.

So I moved from my hometown San Francisco Bay Area to the Chesapeake Bay Area for an opportunity that has ultimately led me to my beloved job with the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Bridging the Watershed Program. Not-so-coincidentally I’m currently working on a project to incorporate service-learning into the Program – a beautiful extension of the project I worked on while I was a Corps member. The Conservation Corps not only provided me with the skills to obtain my job at AFF, but also nurtured a passion for stewardship that I am able to continue in my new post. The Corps is a great training ground for a career in the environmental field, whether in non-profit management, education, policy, or scientific fieldwork. Who knows, you may even start a life-long love affair with the projects you engage in during your year of service!

Getting to Know Alice

February 5th, 2013

By Libby Campbell

Working in the setting of Alice Ferguson’s home is delightful for the atmosphere and view, however, peeking into the heart and mind of our namesake through her letters is on an entirely new level of pleasure and discovery. Visitors to the farmhouse get a glimpse of her personality through her self-portrait “Tired”, where she lounges on the sofa, turquoise T-strap sandals on her elevated feet, and favorite dog Caligula sprawled next to her on the rug. But it is in the letters that the quirky and unique Alice emerges. To her sister-in-law Eleanor she writes:

I am in deep disgrace at my doctors. I went this morning the usual Friday interveinous(sic) injection. As usual they put me on one of those high narrow cots that they wheel all over the place and gave the injection with orders not to move until they came back. In time the floor and walls stopped reeling, I began to feel almost normal, completely forgotten and a little bored. I discovered that if I laid still by humped my middle, the cot moved. I humped and the cot moved very pleasantly until all of the sudden the darned thing got up speed, rolled across the floor, overturned a metal chair and crashed in to the wall. The doctor and all the nurses came on a run and found me lying obediently still. I hadn’t done a thing but I slunk home with all possible speed.


That same year she writes about a frustration that seems to be as timely today to anyone dealing with government permits and processes:

I am so mad tonight I can’t think. To register a truck they sent you a 37 page pamphlet written in lawyers jargon. No one could understand it all and they finally implored people not to mail it as they had said you had to but to wait until today and take the stuff to a high school and get help in making out the application. I went this afternoon. The first thing they asked was how many trips the truck had made down into the farm fields in 1941, how many miles and what tonnage had been carried. How many trips away from the farm, with the load going and returning and how many trips specially for things. All that in 1941. Then you had to repeat it up to the present and estimate for a year in advance. I said I had no records for 41 and just couldn’t estimate. They refused to register the trucks and now I will have to travel all the way to Marlboro to appeal.


Alice, the gently raised debutante dived eagerly into running Hard Bargain Farm. This letter from the war time of 1942 shows how her farm animals were very distinct personalities to her:

My pigs have decided to join the allies. A sow gave me 14 babies last night and two more ladies due very soon. The hens have given up their strike and are doing 3 dozen a day. It is not good but a darned sight better than they have been doing. The cows are the sticking point now and there are three more weeks of drought ahead. I fixed up a warm loafing shed for them and now they do nothing but loaf and it is all we can do to get them out to take a walk. They refuse to drink enough water so they are getting a dose of salt in their food and the pesky critters still won’t drink. You are lucky to have a vegetable farm.


Alice’s letters and journals are a wonderful window on Southern Maryland rural life in the early 20th century. AFF’s Cultural Heritage staff and volunteers are greatly enjoying recreating the trials, triumphs and fun times of the Fergusons’ life here at Hard Bargain Farm.