Same Mission, New Programs

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.

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