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.

2021 POTOMAC RIVER WATERSHED CLEANUP:

  • 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

Same Mission, New Programs

January 25th, 2021

Learn how we reinvented our programs amid the COVID-19 outbreak

Accokeek, MD – Unprecedented times forced the Alice Ferguson Foundation to transition from welcoming thousands of students and community members to Hard Bargain Farm to instead, bringing nature home, virtually. Educating children and keeping local communities clean doesn’t just stop because there’s a pandemic, so finding a way to continue the Foundation’s mission remains top priority.

Following restrictions set by local governments; focus has shifted from large, onsite programs and gatherings to virtual field trips and reopened gates to play pod groups and families. Similarly, cleanup events are now encouraged to be small, socially distant and community-focused.

“We’re proud to be a leader in providing virtual teaching programs and resources for our school partners and hosting a safe, outdoor learning environment for play pod groups, said Theresa Cullen, Executive Director of the Alice Ferguson Foundation. “We remain hopeful that students will be able to fully enjoy our onsite programs later this year.”

 

Teachers can choose from 13 one-hour live virtual lessons and four three-hour live virtual field trips to bring interactive learning experiences to the classroom. While virtual, these programs focus on student exploration: students learning from home identify wiggly macroinvertebrates by counting the number of legs or tails they have, zoom in and examine worms hard at work during the composting process, and discuss the details of a leaf or flower of an invasive plant. All programs are aligned with Next Generation Science Standards and help connect what students are learning in their classes to real-world scenarios. Virtual programming will continue until students throughout the region return to school and are able to enjoy the wonders of onsite field studies once again.

Making a return this spring is our Nature Nuts Play Pods program, featuring sessions on Mondays and Wednesdays. Children can escape the digital world and safely enjoy some fresh air, make new friends and learn about the environmental around them. Families are also invited to schedule a private visit to the farm. It’s the perfect opportunity to get outside and make memories as a family while meeting the barnyard animals, taking a nature hike or exploring the sights and sounds of the birds in the area.

The 33rd Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup is scheduled for April 10, 2021. Volunteers are needed to hold cleanup events throughout the region. More than ever, it’s crucial to keep local waterways and communities’ safe and free of litter. Join the cleanup efforts by registering for the free, virtual “How to Organize A Cleanup” workshops and learn how to safely organize a cleanup, where to get COVID-19 safety information for local jurisdictions, and how to collect date to help support source reduction policies. Register for workshops on Eventbrite.

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.

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.

Gates Reopen for Programs at Hard Bargain Farm

September 12th, 2020

Accokeek MD – The Alice Ferguson Foundation is offering a variety of engaging hands-on outdoor programs this fall, including interactive activities for small groups, families, and young children at its historic farm and environmental campus.

“With most of our area schools switching to online learning, it’s more important than ever for kids and families to spend time outdoors, exploring and learning about the world beyond their computer screen,” said Theresa Cullen, Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Executive Director. “We’re eager to welcome students and their families back to Hard Bargain Farm to enjoy our fun, outdoor, and socially distant activities.” 

New educational programs include:

  • Nature Nut Wednesdays, an outdoor play pod and enrichment program for early childhood and elementary-age students, filled with outdoor adventures, laughter, and learning. Featuring five-weeks sessions in the morning or afternoon.
  • Small Group and Family Visits, to visit with the barnyard animals, explore the wetlands and woods with a nature hike or birdwalk, or discover where food comes from as you learn about farming and agriculture at our 1930’s era working farm.
  • And more…

 

The Alice Ferguson Foundation is following the best health safety practices from local health authorities, school officials and Center for Disease Control and Prevention in implementing all of its on-site programming. The Alice Ferguson Foundation will also be engaging schools and students in science-based learning through its virtual field trips and online academic programs. Learn more about Alice Ferguson Foundation’s school virtual program offerings here. 

For more than 65 years, the Alice Ferguson Foundation has shared the wonder and excitement of outdoor hands-on learning with students and residents of Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC. Located on 330 acres of working farmland, emergent wetlands, and the longest, freshwater Living Shoreline in the nation, the staff and educators of Alice Ferguson Foundation have provided transformative environmental education experiences for nearly half a million area students since 1954. Alice Ferguson Foundation’s team of educators are a critical provider of equitable access to learning that builds environmental literacy skills and connects over 8,000 students to the wonders of their local watershed, and their role in stewarding it. 

Learn more at fergusonfoundation.org.

Environmental Education Programs Go Virtual For 2020-21 School Year

August 22nd, 2020

Accokeek MD – This school year, the Alice Ferguson Foundation is engaging schools and students in science-based learning through its virtual field trips and online academic programs. 

“Though our gates are closed to school visits, we are doing our part to bring science and nature to life for students across DC, Maryland and Virginia,” said Theresa Cullen, Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Executive Director. “Supporting teachers during this virtual transition and continuing to provide quality environmental and STEM-based experiences is of the utmost importance to our team.” 

 

While executing nine exciting weeks of virtual summer camp, educators spent the summer creating lesson plans and piloting online versions of our programs in our newly designed virtual studio space for the upcoming school year. Virtual programs can include a visit to our barnyard, discovering the macroinvertebrates found in our rivers and streams, or observing birds up close. 

Virtual programs include a variety of activities ranging from 30-minute lessons to 3-hour block interactive learning activities which are all closely aligned with learning standards to provide the most value to teachers and students. 

To learn more about Alice Ferguson Foundation’s program offerings, visit fergusonfoundation.org/virtual-programs/

For more than 65 years, the Alice Ferguson Foundation has shared the wonder and excitement of outdoor hands-on learning with students and residents of Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC. Located on 330 acres of working farmland, emergent wetlands, and the longest, freshwater Living Shoreline in the nation, the staff and educators of Alice Ferguson Foundation have provided transformative environmental education experiences for nearly half a million area students since 1954. Alice Ferguson Foundation’s team of educators are a critical provider of equitable access to learning that builds environmental literacy skills and connects over 8,000 students to the wonders of their local watershed, and their role in stewarding it. Learn more at fergusonfoundation.org.

Environmental Education Programs Pause Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

March 25th, 2020

Accokeek MD – In light of the recent developments regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and school closings, the Alice Ferguson Foundation has suspended all education programs and events until further notice. 

“Our community faces historic challenges with the growing COVID-19 pandemic. To do our part, we are cancelling all of our upcoming events and keeping the health and safety of our community, staff, and students a priority,” said Theresa Cullen, Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Executive Director. “Amid the stress and uncertainty, it’s never been more critical to support each other and reduce transmission. Our thoughts are with all those impacted, as well as those caring for others.”

Cancelled programs include:

  • All Spring educational programming, impacting more than 5,600 students.
  • The Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, cancelling more than 265 cleanup events in April
  • All special events through May, including Pinot on the Potomac, Spring Farm Festival and all meetings and workshops

 

The Alice Ferguson Foundation will be referring to local health authorities, school officials and Center for Disease Control and Prevention for guidance on when it is reasonable and safe to resume and reschedule programs and events.

The Alice Ferguson Foundation relies heavily on grant funding we receive from serving the more than 8,000 school children who participate in our programs each year to experience the wonder and excitement of being in the out-of-doors. The income the Alice Ferguson Foundation receives from these trips pays for our educators and support staff and for the upkeep of our property and buildings. With schools being cancelled, it means that the students are not able to experience all that is magical here, and that the Foundation’s regular funding sources – which provide funds to pay educators and support staff, and for the upkeep of the property and buildings – are on hold.

People continue to ask how they can help the Alice Ferguson Foundation during these uncertain times. To ensure our gates remain open in the future, visit www.fergusonfoundation.org/support.

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.

Alice Ferguson Foundation Welcomes New Executive Director

September 25th, 2019

The Alice Ferguson Foundation welcomed Theresa Cullen as its new Executive Director in late August. Cullen joins the Alice Ferguson Foundation with more than 25 years of experience in education in the United States and internationally. Most recently, she served as Head of The American School in Switzerland, where she directed the operational and instructional program for 200 students on a 3-campus school, as well as a 45-member faculty in the areas of curriculum development and best education practices. As Head, she also managed operating and fiscal budgets in addition to managing admission and placement of students.

Born and raised in Prince George’s County, Cullen often visited the Accokeek area to swim and canoe on the river with her family. She is a strong advocate for our mission and the community we serve.

“I believe that all individuals, particularly children, should be part of a beautiful environment for learning. Being outdoors is critical to their development and to the future not only of our region and country, but of the world,” said Cullen. “Getting children out of the classroom to really experience hands-on learning is essential for them to connect concepts taught in the classroom with their real world surroundings.”

In her role as Executive Director, Cullen will oversee finances, staff operations and strategic priorities of the organization, and partner with Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Board of Directors on organizational planning.

“I’m energized to blend my education background with the operational demands of an established nonprofit,” said Cullen. “Our greatest opportunities to build educational and stewardship successes, at the moment, lie within the business side of the Foundation, and I’m excited to focus there, behind the scenes of our impactful programming.” 

Cullen is eager to begin cultivating relationships with the community, beginning with our upcoming Fall Nature Series, which includes six adventures on our 330-acre riverfront working farm led by our environmental educators. The highlight of the series lineup is Alice Ferguson Foundation’s inaugural Fall Farm Day at Hard Bargain Farm on Saturday, October 26 from 11 AM – 4 PM. Families are invited to enjoy our picturesque views and participate in activities unique to Hard Bargain Farm, such as wetland explorations, hayrides, garden and farmyard tours, and much more.

Located in Accokeek, Maryland, the Alice Ferguson Foundation educational programs unite students, educators, park rangers, communities, regional organizations, and government agencies throughout Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.to promote the environmental sustainability of the Potomac River watershed.

 

31st Annual Potomac River Cleanup April 13th, 2019

April 5th, 2019

Thousands of Volunteers to Participate in the 
31th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup

 

Washington DC  – Thousands of residents across Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia will come together on Saturday, April 13 to protect the rivers we love and the water we drink as part of the 31th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup (#PotomacCleanup)

Since 1989, the Alice Ferguson Foundation has coordinated the Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup every April, engaging more than 150,000 volunteers, nearly 500 partner organizations, and removing more than 7.5 million pounds of trash from the Potomac River Watershed.

Results from last year’s 30th Anniversary Cleanup included:

  • More than 9,500 Volunteers
  • 346,000 pounds of trash collected
  • 267 Cleanup Sites Across 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, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.  Local DC  sites with 50+ expected volunteers include Fletchers CoveWashington Canoe ClubPierce MillNational ZooKenilworth Aquatic GardensAnacostia Park.  Interested in different locations? Click here for scheduled cleanup sites.

When:  The majority of cleanups will be held on Saturday, April 13, 2019, from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. There will be additional cleanups scheduled throughout the month.

Who: Thousands of volunteers from around the watershed including elected officials, community businesses and leaders, NGOs, teachers, and government agency leaders.

 The annual Cleanup is part of the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiativewhich 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 the hundreds of sites during cleanups in the month of April is used throughout the year to track trash hot spots, 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

More Than 300,000 Pounds of Trash Collected and Removed During Regional Cleanup Event

June 11th, 2018

Thousands of volunteers participate in this year’s 30th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup

Drawing on data collected from 267 cleanup events across Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, and West Virginia, more than 9,700 volunteers collected 346,444 pounds of trash throughout the Potomac River watershed at this year’s Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup. Several hundred organizations and groups partner in the effort each year.

“We are honored to be doing our small part for a healthy, clean river by connecting people and local organizations with the resources, support, and information they need to do community cleanups in their neighborhoods,” said Lori Arguelles, president and CEO of the Alice Ferguson Foundation. “The Potomac is one of the largest rivers that flows into the Chesapeake Bay, and, if you live in the area, it’s very likely that the river is your source of drinking and washing water. Littering, runoff, and trash contribute to a widespread problem that affects everyone.”

Nearly 90% of the 300 cleanup events organized throughout the month of April reported on the pounds of trash collected, the number of volunteers, and the instances of commonly found items at their cleanup sites. This year, volunteers reported collecting 862 tires, 11,034 plastic bags, 9,726 plastic straws, and 6,871 cigarettes collected from communities, parks, waterways and other locations across the region.

This year, the Potomac River Watershed Cleanup participated in the Year of the Anacostia celebration by highlighting the nearly 50 cleanup events that happened within the Anacostia River watershed.

“The Year of the Anacostia is all about enjoying the Anacostia River and its parklands and building a better social and environmental future for the Nation’s Capital. The Alice Ferguson Foundation is doing critically important work teaching children and adults to understand, love and conserve the Anacostia,” Doug Siglin, executive director of the Anacostia Waterfront Trust.

The annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup is one of many of the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s programs designed to promote environmental sustainability in the region and connect people to the natural world. The Foundation’s Regional Litter Prevention Campaign, which empowers communities to “Take Control, Take Care of Your Trash,” led to a 30% reduction in observable littering behavior in the targeted District of Columbia neighborhoods between 2013 and 2015. Another program, Trash Free Schools, engages more than 2,000 students annually from more than 20 schools throughout the DC metro region.

Since it began thirty years ago, the Potomac River Watershed Cleanup has mobilized more than 150,000 volunteers to remove more than 7 million pounds of trash.

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.