You don’t have to have lived in the Washington metropolitan area very long to know what an anomaly a day like today is. Temps are in the low 80’s, there’s a little breeze, humidity is undetectable—and it’s July! The Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center is bustling with activity, hosting the Summer Teacher Institute for Maryland educators and also a group of participants from the District Department of the Environment, Green Zone Environmental Program (GZEP).
For two weeks in July, teachers from Prince George’s County Public Schools convene at Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center to participate in an environmental science teacher institute. Today was the fourth of ten very full days soaking up ways of conveying environmental concepts in a hands-on/minds-on way to their students. Each day of the 10-day Institute provides elementary and middle school teachers experiential and collaborative learning, real world applications, ready-to-use activities, and issue investigation strategies. The Institute’s activities and concepts are correlated to Next Generation Science Standards.
GZEP introduces District of Columbia youth, age 14 to 24, to the green industry, exposing them to numerous exciting careers through workshops and hands-on training in the environment. The program participants develop basic skills necessary to succeed in the workplace. GZEP youth workers undertake projects that have immeasurable sustainability impact in the District. At AFF, some of the youth’s field-based training included assisting in demonstrating first-hand how trash ends up in our water systems. They were placed into groups and challenged to draw pictures of pollution and how trash and chemicals pollute our water. The information learned will be put to use as they work on city beautification projects, invasive plant removal, and other projects in the District.