Volunteers Celebrated Earth Month Last Saturday with more than 100 Cleanup Events

April 16th, 2021

Cleanups continue amid uncertain year in Maryland, Virginia, & Washington DC

This past Saturday, April 10, 2021, the Alice Ferguson Foundation and dozens of partners celebrated the 33rd Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup. More than 100 trash cleanup events occurred throughout the Potomac River Watershed, including events in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia. This year’s cleanups are following COVID-19 safety guidelines set by local jurisdictions, including social distancing, limiting the number of volunteers per event, and using time slot registration for larger cleanup efforts. 

During Potomac River Watershed Cleanup events, volunteers collect citizen science data, including total pounds of trash removed and most commonly found trash items. The most commonly found items at this year’s cleanup included food wrappers, plastic bottles and plastic bags. Tires, car parts and dumped appliances also featured prominently among the larger objects retrieved by volunteers.

The data successfully serves to implement waste-reduction legislation, including the plastic bag fees and the Anacostia River Styrofoam ban.

“More than eighty percent of our drinking water in the area comes from the Potomac River,” said Samantha Battersby, Alice Ferguson Foundation volunteer coordinator. “It’s incredibly important that everyone does their part to keep our streams and communities clean, safe, and healthy.”

With increasing attention on the beauty of our region’s waterways, and the immediate threat of plastic pollution, volunteers are taking action. Since 1989, more than 150,000 volunteers have collectively prevented 8 million pounds of trash from entering the Potomac River.

With more than 200 #PotomacCleanup events planned throughout the watershed this April, community leaders, regional stakeholders, and volunteers are making a difference for the water we drink and the rivers we love. You can still join an event this April by finding a cleanup near you.

Visit PotomacCleanup.org to learn more.

The Alice Ferguson Foundation’s educational programs unite students, educators, park rangers, communities, regional organizations, and government agencies throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area to promote the environmental sustainability of the Potomac River watershed.

Trash Cleanups Continue Safely Amidst Coronavirus Pandemic

March 3rd, 2021

Residents across Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, will safely come together on Saturday, April 10 to participate in the 33rd Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup and help remove thousands of pounds of litter and trash from neighborhoods, parks and streets. 

“We are excited to organize and support these large-scale cleanup efforts again this year,” said Theresa Cullen, Alice Ferguson Foundation Executive Director. “Cleanup events are a great way to safely get together with friends and family in the great outdoors while doing good and making a difference.”

This year’s cleanups will follow COVID-19 safety guidelines set by local jurisdictions: cleanup events will be socially distant, the number of volunteers will be limited for each event, and larger cleanup efforts will include time slot registration. The Alice Ferguson Foundation is currently hosting free virtual volunteer training workshops to help volunteers learn how to safely organize cleanups.

Each year, the Alice Ferguson Foundation also provides more than 20,000 bags and 10,000 gloves to volunteers and community organizations across the region at no charge. In a regular year, the Potomac River Watershed Cleanup brings together 9,000 volunteers across 300 cleanup events during the month of April. 

“Last year, despite the impact of COVID-19 and all the uncertainty surrounding it, we still saw more than 1,400 volunteers participate in cleanup efforts in our communities,” said Samantha Battersby, Alice Ferguson Foundation Cleanup Coordinator. “These volunteers helped remove more than 56,000 pounds of trash at the more than 60 small and socially distant cleanups.” 

Since 1989, the Alice Ferguson Foundation has coordinated the Annual Potomac Watershed Cleanup every April and has engaged more than 150,000 volunteers and 500 partner organizations to remove more than 8 million pounds of trash from the Potomac River Watershed.


  • Where: Cleanups will be held at hundreds of sites through the Potomac River Watershed, which include the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. Locate a site here.
  • When: The majority of cleanups will be held Saturday, April 10, 2021 from 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. There will be additional cleanup events scheduled throughout the month.
  • Who: Volunteers from around the watershed, including elected officials, community businesses and leaders, community organizations, teachers, and government agency leaders.


The annual Cleanup is part of the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative, which seeks to connect people to their local watershed with the ultimate goal of creating clean land, safe water and healthy lives. The data gathered from cleanups is used to track trash hotspots, mark progress and target policies intended to reduce litter in the region.

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 fergusonfoundation.org

Tis The Season To Be Trash Free

December 14th, 2020

Written By Krupa Patel,
Trash Free Schools Coordinator

It’s said that 25 percent more trash is thrown away during the holiday months. My family and I make every effort to be trash free, especially during the holidays. From excessive wrapping paper and extra food waste, our communities and landfills are overflowing. I challenge you to make your holidays as trash free as possible. Here’s some little changes you can try that make a big difference…

  • Safely share homemade goodies by using reusable containers
  • Save cardboard boxes and plastic free packaging throughout the year so you’re all set when it’s time to wrap gifts. (I have requested family that if they have me for Secret Santa, that the gift be plastic free.)
  • Find alternatives to wrapping paper. Use items like fabric scraps, reusable canvas bags, newspaper, or even a basket.


  • Support small businesses. You’re buying directly from the business and saving the extra plastic packaging that would normally be used to ship. You can find a lot of small businesses that share environmental missions as you do. (I have found artisans that don’t use plastic in their product and packaging, i.e. ceramic earrings, soaps wrapped in cardboard, body lotion in aluminum or glass jars, etc.)
  • Buy experiences. Take a unique class together, purchase a membership, or begin planning a trip to a special place…safely of course. Give the gift of memories. (I even enjoy getting gift cards to yoga classes, because I wouldn’t want to buy for myself.)


There are many alternatives to make your holiday a trash free one, you just have to think outside of the box. Wishing you a safe and very Happy Trash-Free Holiday season!


How To Organize A Cleanup

10:30 am - 11:30 am How To Organize A Cleanup

How To Organize A Cleanup

6:30 pm - 7:30 pm How To Organize A Cleanup

District Adopt-A-Stream Workshop

10:30 am - 11:30 am District Adopt-A-Stream Workshop

Alice Ferguson Foundation Kicks Off Season of Cleanup Events

October 15th, 2020

New Training Resources Encourage Safe, Socially-distanced Micro-Cleanups this Fall

Accokeek, MD – On September 26, the Alice Ferguson Foundation kicked off its annual cleanup events season as it celebrated National Public Lands Day by cleaning up its Living Shoreline on shore of the Potomac River in Piscataway Park. Alice Ferguson Foundation’s annual spring cleanups had been postponed from April due to the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic.

Each year, thousands of volunteers receive free bags and gloves from the Alice Ferguson Foundation and participate in cleanup events in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC. Data collected by the volunteers is shared with local officials to support and measure the impact of proven trash and litter reduction policies such as bag fees and foam bans.

“Instead of doing large cleanup events, we are encouraging people to do smaller cleanups with their friends and families,” said Samantha Battersby, Trash Free Cleanup coordinator. “We have resources and information on how we can stay safe and healthy while still giving back to the environment.”

Two friends collecting plastic bottles from their cleanup site.

Virtual workshops and at-home cleanups have replaced the usual in-person trainings and the annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, which draws more than 10,000 volunteers each year. So far this year, the Alice Ferguson Foundation hosted seven virtual events for a total of 110 volunteers who learned how to safely organize and lead a successful cleanup.

“Trash is still a problem and it’s not going to just go away by itself. It’s more important than ever for us to provide the tools and tips for individuals and families to make a green difference in the communities they live in,” said Battersby. “Workshop participants are taking what they’ve learned and hosting safe, micro-cleanups.”

Participants are invited to share pictures of their socially distanced cleanup using the hashtag, #PotomacCleanup. Volunteers interested in participating in this years’ cleanup events can contact Samantha Battersby or learn more at PotomacCleanup.org.

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 fergusonfoundation.org.

Charles County Adopt A Stream Workshop

6:30 pm - 7:30 pm Charles County Adopt A Stream Workshop

How To Organize A Cleanup Workshop

6:30 pm - 7:30 pm How To Organize A Cleanup Workshop

Washington DC Adopt A Stream Workshop

10:00 am - 11:30 am Washington DC Adopt A Stream Workshop