Volunteer for Fall Cleanup at Chapman State Park, November 7

October 22nd, 2015

AFF is pleased to have formed a partnership with Volunteer Maryland, an AmeriCorpsChapman State Park program. We now have a Volunteer Maryland Coordinator on staff to help establish a more robust volunteer program throughout the Foundation.

Hannah Seligmann served as an intern earlier this year, helping to organize the Potomac River Watershed Annual Cleanup. She will be setting up area cleanups and helping to organize other volunteer opportunities around Hard Bargain Farm, as well.

The first of her efforts includes a cleanup at Chapman State Park on November 7, from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Stay for the whole time or come out for an hour, every effort helps! Student service learning hours will be awarded.

For questions, contact us at [email protected].

Stewards of our Watershed

April 8th, 2015
peace creek

Peace Creek with the remnants of a shopping cart and bike on the opposite shore.

By Tim Murphy, Potomac River Watershed Cleanup Coordinator

At Peace Lutheran Church in Waldorf, Maryland, we have had a long standing and robust Social Concerns Ministry.  Under the direction of Pastor Craig Endicott, we are further exploring the issue of social justice, particularly what keeps a person as a social concern and what it is we can do to address it.

I am the Cleanup Coordinator for The Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup and a member this church. As a part of the Foundation’s Trash Initiative, we explore how trash makes an area unsafe and unhealthy, and how trash can be a gateway to greater social concerns. As part of the Foundation’s newly-launched Faith in our Watershed Initiative, we seek to inspire faith communities around three points:

    • To be stewards of the environment
    • To take action with a cleanup, by adopting a litter can, or with other activities
    • To raise awareness within the broader community using free materials such as posters and yard signs

As the annual Cleanup and goals of Faith in our Watershed meshed well with our social justice focus, it made sense for Peace Lutheran to host a cleanup site this year in the creek that flows behind the church. As stewards of our environment and shepherds of our community, we look forward to participating in this project. Our little cleanup may not have a large impact on the greater watershed, but it raises awareness of a problem that exists in our midst and motivates us to work for a change.

This year’s cleanup is on April 11, but sites are hosting events throughout the month. It is easy to locate a site to volunteer, either for the annual Cleanup or for events held year round.  All of our registered events are found on our Trash Network website.

Good Riddance Garbage

April 1st, 2015

good-riddance-garbageBy guest writer David Thompson, a high school junior in Prince George’s County.

On March 21, along with eight others, I cleaned up a few streets in a Maryland residential area. I heard about this cleanup initiative through my cousin, who resides in the neighborhood. Despite our different ages, races, and backgrounds we all had one common goal in mind: ridding the area of litter.

We immediately grabbed our equipment (a neon green vest, a trash pickup tool, and latex gloves) and wasted no time bagging up the trash. While doing so, we found many noteworthy items: a woman’s purse, a diaper, a shopping cart, at least four tires, a tennis shoe, and two televisions! By the time we were finished cleaning the site, I honestly felt like a full-fledged detective! I pondered why some of our findings would be in the trash, i.e. the two TVs. A group member and I joked around that someone was infuriated and threw out the TVs in a vicious rampage! The cleanup crew chatted as we worked, but that definitely didn’t make us lose sight of our goal. The team’s aura was consistently energetic and passionate about making such a difference in the community. Now I don’t consider myself a tree-hugger, but I was quite disappointed to witness the enormous amount of pollution, which I felt detracted from the beauty of the surrounding nature. It served as an eye-opening juxtaposition to the natural beauty of the Earth. Trees, plants, and shrubs, being depreciated by liquor bottles, beer cans, and all sorts of snack wrappers.

As a result, we pulled out all of our stops. One of the ladies on the team walked to her nearby home to bring back a shovel, rake, and trashcan to make our hard work more effective. Once we pulled the rubbish from underneath the shrubbery, we were able to dispose of and recycle the trash even quicker than before. I stayed out there cleaning up for four hours and I even was hurt by several thorny vines while trying to get a grip on far away items. But ironically, as time progressed I didn’t get tired. My drive increased. After this experience, I felt a rhapsody of accomplishment and a sense of fulfillment.

All in all, I learned and acknowledged that there is strength in numbers, and that no matter how major or simple that difference may be, you’re never too old or young to make a difference in the community.

Can We Talk About Your Trash?

March 24th, 2015

Cleanup-for-trash-postBy Tim Murphy, Potomac River Watershed Cleanup Coordinator

I recently had the privilege of addressing a communications class at the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) taught by Assistant Professor Michelle Brosco Christian. This class is part of CSM’s service learning curriculum, and one assignment in the course is to choose an organization for which you can lead a service project.

I was invited to the class to discuss the Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup and demonstrate how the students could use this event for their assignment. Most of the students in this class understood that recycling is important and that they should not litter; but my conversation with the students deepened their understanding of the pervasive problems of trash. Thanks to Prof. Christian for sharing student feedback!

A number of students were very motivated by your talk to our class! Look what one student wrote:

“When the representative from the [Alice] Ferguson Foundation presented in class last week, I was very inspired by the work they did, how easy it was to get involved, and how large of a scale the problem was. Even if I don’t use [The Potomac River Watershed Cleanup] for service learning, I realize I was motivated to volunteer and help, to actually align my actions with my environmentally-conscious viewpoints. The representative mentioned that [Frances ‘Frankie’ Sherman, Recycling Superintendent] is really trying to spearhead recycling in Charles County, and has already made headway. And all I could think about was that in my neighborhood, as long as I have known, there has been no recycling program – and how appalling that is. Sometime this semester, I would like to not only organize a cleanup (for the place dearly needs one), but perhaps talk to the homeowners’ association about why a recycling program hasn’t been implemented, and what steps could be taken to change that.”

Trash makes the places we live and work unsafe and unhealthy, and students are shaping our future laws and policies. I’m glad I had a chance to talk in-depth with them about our region’s trash problems and solutions. Here are some ways we can all help:

  1. Encourage your family and friends not to litter.
  2. Make sure your trash and recycling bins have lids to keep wind and critters from creating litter.
  3. Join us on Saturday, April 11 for the 27th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup.

Want to know more about recycling in your town? Here are some local recycling resources. Know of others? Add them in the comments.

 

Regional Litter Prevention Campaign Seeks New Images to Target Millennials

March 6th, 2015

Recognizing the importance of public education and awareness in creating behavior change, AFF’s Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative created the Regional Litter Prevention Campaign to target active litterers in the Potomac Watershed (example of poster to right). This public education and social marketing campaign is designed to raise awareness and understanding of the issue of litter, change attitudes and perceptions, and persuade people to stop littering.

Additional images and examples can be found at TrashFreePotomac.org.After several years of social research to create messaging and images, the Regional Litter Prevention Campaign was piloted in 2011 with grassroots outreach strategies in the community of Deanwood, DC, and through a broader jurisdictional approach in Montgomery County, Fairfax County, Arlington County, Prince George’s County, and the District of Columbia. Grassroots efforts have now expanded to eight different communities in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. To gauge the effectiveness of the Litter Campaign, AFF piloted a new evaluation technique in 2013 using direct observations of pedestrians.

The evaluation showed a positive correlation between posted Litter Campaign materials and a reduction in littering behaviors. There was a 45% reduction in the number of people littering after Litter Campaign materials were posted, declining from 1.32% to 0.75% of the pedestrians observed, excluding those littering tobacco products and pieces of food (figure 1).* Positive behavior also rose dramatically after the Litter Campaign was in place: the number of people who put their trash in a litter can rose from 0.48% to 2.12% of pedestrians observed, a 77% increase, excluding those who disposed of food scraps and tobacco products. These items were excluded to be consistent with the results reported above and because a cigarette receptacle was put in place at one of the locations.

The Litter Campaign affected a range of age groups, but had the largest impact on those within the 31-40 age range. Youth and young adults were both the least affected by the Campaign and the most likely to litter. AFF seeks to better target young adults, ages 14-30, in Prince George’s County inner beltway between Forest Heights and Capitol Heights by revising the Regional Litter Prevention Campaign. One element that will change is the main photo used in the poster and other outreach material.

Target communities for this effort are all in Prince George’s County and include:

  • Glassmanor-Oxon Hill
  • Hillcrest Heights- Marlow Heights
  • Suitland-Coral Hills
  • Forest Heights
  • Capitol Heights

AFF requests two sets of photos for use in the Regional Litter Prevention Campaign. These photos will better target the audience of millennials, specifically ages 15-30. They will be done in two parts: 1) Prince George’s County Playground and 2) Marine Debris Connection. AFF has hosted two focus groups with litterers between the ages of 15 and 30 in the target communities in the spring of 2014, to better understand their motivations to litter and to test the current campaign as well as some new concepts. These concepts with also tested with community partners, along with a second round of photo concepts that were also tested with community partners. Based on the research done and the needs of the Litter Campaign, AFF is looking for the following:

1. Images for use in advertising in print, PR, marketing, outdoor and web placement in the Mid-Atlantic region. They will be used on:

  • Posters ranging in size from 8×11” to 2×3’ (or 3×2’), outdoor banners (typically 5×2’), pamphlets and flyers, web banners, social media, print media, and other miscellaneous visual media that may appear in transit systems, county trucks and cars, reusable bags, stickers, etc.

2. Large image sizes (resolution for crisp images that are roughly 3 by 4 feet) and a variety of layouts (vertical and horizontal options of the same concept).

3. All licensing costs paid for upfront. AFF plans on using these images for years to come and works with partners who restrict AFF from entering agreements with yearly licensing fees. For this reason AFF requires an agreement that pays for all rights to use the images outright. This means that AFF will own the image files once completed.

4. Part 1. Prince George’s County Playground: The image should be similar to photo of the urban playground (displayed above), but with the other key elements listed below included:

  • Children playing in an outdoor playground in Prince George’s County in one of the target communities. AFF has already visited several playgrounds and has some suggestions for shooting locations.
  • The playground should have a high level of litter
  • Racially diverse children, reflective of the audience that is being reached and including at least one African American
  • Children ages 2-4 years old, younger than in the current photos
  • At least one of the children directly interacting with litter
  • Realistic photos, especially when it comes to litter levels
  • A Photoshopped concept is pasted below.

RFQ01_3-6-15

5. Part 2. Marine Debris Connection: This part of the project is still under development and will be informed by research that is currently underway. These photos will target youth between the ages of 10 and 19, and ideally will connect litter with trash pollution in water and our oceans. A preliminary concept is pasted below.

RF02_3-6-15
The contractor will work with senior professional staff at the AFF to develop the image concept and will manage the project to stay within budget and schedule. The contractor will report to the Program Manager Trash Free Potomace Watershed Initiative. The contractor will manage the shoot, including all logistics from securing location and talent as needed. The contractor will deliver high resolution, large format color digital files. All creative content, files, and content become the property of the Alice Ferguson Foundation.

In addition to AFF project staff, the contractor may also interact with other stakeholders and collaborators including representatives of the community groups, funders, and reviewers.

The budget for this project is $5,000 – $6,000. Respondents to this request for proposals are encouraged to review the AFF web site. Proposals must be submitted by March 27, 2015, and the project is expected to be awarded at the beginning of April 2015. Work will start immediately.

The proposal should present samples of the photographer’s work, references, a description of the scope of work, timeline, and cost, as well as a list of members of the photo team and their qualifications. Specific items which should be addressed in the proposal include:

  • Management of logistics of photo shoot, including site, talent, assistants, etc.
  • Supply of all necessary high quality equipment
  • Digital post production including retouching and color conversion
  • High resolution digital file capture and color correction
  • Creation and delivery of files for presentation in high resolution digital format to client

Please submit full proposals to Clara Elias, Program Manager for the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative [email protected]

AFF’s Newest Trash Free School: in their own words

January 27th, 2015

Guest blog post by Maurice Collier-Shabazz and the rest of the Green Team at Phyllis E. Williams Elementary School

Phyllis E. Williams Elementary SchoolGoing Green…
 
This school year Phyllis E. Williams Elementary School decided to participate in the Maryland Green School Project and Alice Ferguson Foundation’s (AFF) Trash Free School Project. These projects help us focus and take action on a few community-wide issues. These issues include recycling, solid waste reduction, water conservation/pollution prevention, energy conservation and habitat restoration. The school saw a community need and decided to create an action plan to help combat what was deemed to be an environmental problem.

The first step in our going green process has been to set up a successful recycling program as well as participating in the Trash Free School Project. Our students and parents have stepped up to the challenge to sign the Trash Free Lunch pledge, which takes place on Thursdays. Our focus in going green is to lower our waste as a school and focusing on the 3 R’s- Rethink, Reduce and Reuse.

The students of Phyllis E. Williams have taken the lead in the creation of the Going Green initiative. The after-school program led the initiative to start the recycling program by managing the disposal of all recyclables collected during the school day. The Student Government and Honor Society are supporting our green movement by creating posters to reinforce the schools message regarding the recycling and trash free programs.

Phyllis E. Williams is currently partnering with the Alice Ferguson Foundation and MAEOE (Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education) to assist our school to become a certified Green School within the next year or so. Looking ahead, Phyllis E. Williams will have a Green School Kick Off Celebration that will include representatives from Pepco, WSSC (Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission), and AFF to address the importance of energy conservation and maintaining a trash-free watershed.

For more information on Trash Free Schools click here.
For more information on Maryland Green Schools click here.

Why I Give

December 16th, 2014

Dan Jackson and familyBy Dan Jackson, Alice Ferguson Foundation Board President

It is that time of year again when many people start to think about monetary donations to help reduce income tax liability. However, many of us also think about charitable donations, throughout the year. I am listing six reasons I choose to donate both money, and time, to AFF on a regular basis. In no particular order:

  1. I believe 100% in AFF’s mission

    To me, there is nothing better than supporting an organization that opens minds of all ages to nature’s tune on a 300-acre working farm. I am so proud to represent and serve an organization that advocates for environmental, agricultural, and cultural education, stewardship of resources, trash-free schools and businesses, and healthy waterways and woodlands.

  2. AFF has helped me build stronger bonds with family and friends

    Since my first affiliation with AFF in 2000, Hard Bargain Farm has been and continues to be a bonding place for me, especially with my sons. They were 10 and 8 when we first helped Eileen Watts milk Marmalade, feed the cattle, and pick eggs. Since then we’ve spent many days and nights at the Farm and have often been joined by friends and extended family who have also embraced how special the Farm is and have appreciated AFF’s work.

  3. My involvement with AFF has helped me develop and refine skills

    As one who takes a strong interest in sharpening the saw, I volunteer to hone existing skills and learn new ones. Volunteering and Board leadership is an opportunity for me to learn from individuals I may not meet otherwise, to find common bonds, and develop more business acumen as we dig deep into strategic and operational issues that guide the organization. What I gain is a greater understanding of common goals, a respect for others, and perspective.

  4. I follow a legacy of service by working with AFF

    My Mom and Dad have been volunteers for as long as I can remember in one form or another. At the moment, they’re heavily involved in several organizations including Montgomery Village Kiwanis and The Miracle League Montgomery County, MD. My sons are following – partially because it’s a highly worthy school requirement, but also because they see what we get out of the experiences. They started young and I expect they’ll continue to serve. I truly hope they’ll find the same level of satisfaction as I have found by working with AFF.

  5. I meet and work with amazing people through AFF

    It begins with AFF staff and leadership and extends to Board, volunteers, and community members. The folks affiliated with AFF are amazing and dedicated to the organization, Hard Bargain Farm, the area’s rich history, and preserving the awesome sense of place. This dedication and caliber of people inspires me to continue my affiliation with AFF.

  6. My efforts through AFF are sincerely appreciated

    From the time I first signed-up as a volunteer stream clean-up leader to serving in my current role as Board President, I’ve always felt that my contributions have been welcomed and valued no matter the amount of time I’ve given, the big or small ideas shared, or the amount of money I’ve contributed. This has not always been the case with other organizations for which I’ve served. I believe this treatment is a testament to AFF’s greatness.

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!

Millennial Consumption: How one generation could generate less waste

October 3rd, 2014

By Kara Pennino, AFF Community Outreach Liaison

There has been a lot of talk recently about how to grab the attention of people in their teens and twenties, also known as millennials. The Trash Team has been particularly interested in how to target this young generation, influence them to generate less waste, and keep their communities litter free.
ShepherdParkwayCleanup_8-14
We were inspired to target this audience because of the results of our 2013 pilot evaluation of our Regional Litter Prevention Campaign. This pilot showed a 45% reduction in the number of people littering after campaign material was posted nearby. While we were ecstatic about the results, we wanted to do better. We wanted to know who was still littering after the Litter Campaign was posted and how we could better target them. We found that a large majority of those who were still littering were millennials, specifically those between the ages of 15 and 29. We decided to work with the social research firm, OpinionWorks, to do more research into why this segment of the population was less impacted by our Campaign.

In June we held two focus groups in Prince George’s County with self-proclaimed litterers between the ages of 18 and 30. Our goal was to find distinct ways to supplement our current Litter Campaign with new material that is more impactful for our target audience. We decided to target millennials in Prince George’s County between the towns of Capitol Heights and Forest Heights, where we have been doing community outreach for the last two years (this is part of our strategy, called community based social marketing).

So what grabs the attention of millennials who litter? Authentic, realistic, and personal images. The millennials we interviewed were literal-minded and locally oriented. They want campaigns that are relatable to their everyday experience. For instance, instead of a photo of a park that is clearly not in their neighborhood, they want to be able to picture themselves in a littered park in their neighborhood. Being able to imagine themselves as part of the scene opens them to feeling its impact viscerally. Test images that were taken in D.C. or Virginia were dismissed because the participants did not view the location as part of their communities, and therefore they were not emotionally invested.

Our new Litter Campaign materials are going to have a very strong focus on being local, with photos taken in our target audiences’ immediate community to tap into their sense of identity and pride for their neighborhood. We are also altering our communication strategy, giveaways, and activities in order to better grab the attention of millennials. We tested our talking points to see which ones were the most effective and we have created an Instagram account to better reach our audience online. Our research found that people in their teens and twenties like to have interactive games that they can play with their friends. Our new games are created with this in mind. Are you interested in playing trash toss and wining draw-string backpacks and reusable water bottles? We will be piloting our new Trash Toss at the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s 60th Anniversary Celebration – Fall Fest. We hope to see you there!

If you want to know more about our research and how to better target millennials, join us at the 9th Annual Potomac Watershed Trash Summit at the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center at the University of Maryland from 9am to 2pm on November 7, 2014. I am organizing a session, titled “Marketing to Millennials: A Generational Approach to Trash Reduction.” I hope you can come and join the discussion. Learn more and register for the event at TrashSummit.org.

Contact Kara at [email protected]
Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram! @AliceFergusonFoundation #DontBeTrashy

First Trash Free Schools In Charles County, MD!

January 24th, 2013

By Sara Campbell, Outreach Coordinator 

We would like to welcome Gale Bailey Elementary and Indian Head Elementary,  the first Trash Free Schools in Charles County, MD!  They have signed the Trash Free Schools Pledge and are working to reduce waste at their schools.  Both schools have very active school communities and are also involved in our Schoolyards as Classrooms Project.

Indian Head Elementary is a Maryland Green School and will use the Trash Free Schools Project to help maintain their Maryland Green School status.  Actions completed through the Trash Free Schools Project will be documented (as described in the Trash Free Schools Project’s Eight Steps Table) and used for Maryland Green school re-certification.  Future actions include weighing the trash from each classroom as a competition to increase school recycling and reduce waste sent to the landfill.  Students will help with the effort by monitoring bins and collecting the trash weight data.  Teachers will be able to incorporate data into their lessons by having students create graphs and calculate the change in waste over time for each classroom to determine the winner.

Gale-Bailey Elementary is also a Maryland Green School and has a thriving Green Club that conducted a roadside cleanup last Fall with students, staff, families, and community members. They have also conducted schoolyard cleanups and completed other service projects at their school. The Green Club does weekly announcements to the school and has taught their peers how to properly recycle in the lunchroom as well as helped the school eliminate polystyrene lunch trays from the cafeteria.  Gale Bailey Elementary will use the Trash Free Schools Project to provide resources and suggestions to further involve students in reducing waste at the school.

Congratulations to Indian Head Elementary and Gale Bailey Elementary schools on their commitment to take action and reduce waste!