Posts Tagged ‘Volunteer’

Pursuing The Usual Suspects: A Cleanup Story

April 5th, 2017
by Hannah Seligmann, Volunteer Coordinator


Those who have participated in a cleanup understand that while the items found span the whole spectrum, they’re usually all made from a few consistent materials. From straws to plastic bags, random toys to little bits of Styrofoam and food wrappers, the majority of products are plastic and single use items. Cleanups offer experiential learning opportunities that can raise awareness and change behavior.

“This has been an eye opening experience…” said Khara Norris, a cleanup volunteer. “We are finding a lot of Styrofoam. I am never buying Styrofoam again.” 

One volunteer who knows all too well these cleanup materials has been participating in the Potomac Cleanup for more than a decade:

While hiking and enjoying the Potomac shoreline, experienced cleanup volunteer Lyle has closely observed, documented, and photographed the seemingly never-ending and wide variety of trash that washes ashore. He has dubbed several categories of trash as “the Usual Suspects,” as they are found on every outing. These include tennis balls (Lyle has picked up several thousand), disposal lighters, flip flops and shoes of every type, pens, plastic lids, straws, and emergency road flares.

Lyle and Dave at Chapman Forest


When he led last year’s cleanup event, it was a volunteer trifecta! Eric Celarier, a local artist, joined the efforts in search for trash for their latest piece. Lyle led Eric to the trash hot spots and even donated his distinguished collection to the project. David Howe, another volunteer, and his crew from the Institute of Maritime History, provided 3 boats to help haul trash from the shoreline to the collection site (a huge help!). The boats also provided transit to additional access points. One of the biggest finds was an eight-foot-long picnic table that washed ashore and has since been refinished and reused.

On April 8, and throughout the rest of the month, volunteers will once again unite for the 29th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup. Last year, nearly 10,000 volunteers came out and removed more than 300,000 pounds of trash from the watershed. What will they find this year?

Visit to find a cleanup site near you, or to host your own.


What’s Your Cleanup Story?

March 29th, 2017
by Hannah Seligmann, Volunteer Coordinator

I am humbled by the dedication of the people who protect, volunteer for, and preserve the water we drink. Since 1989, the Potomac River Watershed Cleanup has mobilized thousands of volunteers to be part of the solution for clean water.

Here are a few of their stories:

4) Jim Heins
Each year, Jim Heins leads eight cleanup sites along the C&O Canal and connects with thousands of local people interested in participating. Many of the volunteers come back year after year – and some even become site leaders for their own cleanups!  At the end of the day, Jim and another volunteer, Skip Magee, go around to each site and sort through the blue recycling bags to ensure the county receives only the material that can be recycled.

Though new to organizing cleanups, Michelle Haywood and the team at Path to Greatness, are skilled at connecting with community members. Last year, they arranged for nearly 50 volunteers to remove more than 300 pounds of trash at Oxon Cove National Park. This is just a snapshot of the year-round cleanups at Oxon Cove Park (every first Sunday of the month!).

5) Friends of Accotink Creek
The Friends of Accoktink Creek
are incredible stewards of their local creek. They lead dozens of cleanup sites during the month of April, engaging hundreds of neighbors to get their “brains wet and hands dirty”. Stay tuned to learn about their upcoming Trash Day of Action: Battle of the Bottle!


To live your own cleanup reality, visit Last year 9,465 volunteers removed more than 300,000 pounds of trash from the watershed. Can we count on you this year?

  • VOLUNTEER by picking up trash! Choose from hundreds of events listed on our website.
  • LEAD a cleanup in your community! Register online and invite friends, family, and coworkers. We will provide you with supplies and logistics.

The 29th Annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup is April 8, 2017. This regional event for clean land, safe waters, and healthy lives will continue throughout the entire month of April. 

Chesapeake Conservation Corps: Inspiring a Move from the Bay Area to the Bay Area

March 6th, 2013

By Zoë Unruh, BTW Educator Specialist

A common question people ask me when they find out I’m from San Francisco is, “Seriously? Why did you leave?” My answer? The Chesapeake Conservation Corps. During my year of service, I worked with Montgomery County Public Schools Outdoor Environmental Education Program at the Lathrop E. Smith Center in Rockville. My capstone project as a Corps member at the Smith Center was to strengthen the service-learning component of the sixth grade Residential Program. At the end of my year of service, I landed a job with the Alice Ferguson Foundation (AFF), a non-profit with 60 years of experience in connecting people to the natural world, sustainable agricultural practices and the cultural heritage of their local watershed through education, stewardship and advocacy. This year, AFF is looking for a Corps member to assist with all aspects of AFF’s outreach environmental education programming, action project development and implementation of the Schoolyards as Classroom Project and Trash Free Schools programs. With my experience both as a Corps member and with AFF, this opportunity is the perfect way to start your career in the environmental field.

Even though most of my time was spent at the Smith Center, I didn’t just learn skills specific to MCPS Outdoor Environmental Education. I also learned how to develop a project and write a grant to fund it; how to install water bars on a trail; how to prepare an energy audit; how to design and present a poster; how to interview for a job; and, probably most importantly, how to network. That is the true beauty of the Chesapeake Bay Trust’s model – it provides ample opportunities to explore all sectors of the environmental field as well as prepares Corps members for a career beyond their year of service. This is accomplished in several different ways: (1) Corps members are expected to complete site visits at other organizations in the program – an opportunity to see what work is done elsewhere in the environmental community as well as a chance to meet important individuals that have dedicated their professional lives to environmental work; (2) Corps members are expected to attend professional development sponsored by the Trust – a great way to build up your experience to make yourself more attractive to future employers; and (3) Corps members have the opportunity to attend Chesapeake Bay Watershed-wide networking events – the best way to make contacts in the region if you’re interested in continuing work in the environmental field. I commonly hear of two problems with internship programs: (1) the intern is stuck doing busy work for the organization and does not benefit professionally, or (2) the intern does not provide any deliverables for the organization. The Chesapeake Conservation Corps model allows for self-direction for both the Corps member and the host organization – effectively getting rid of those common problems by allowing the two parties involved to mutually benefit. AFF has chosen significant projects for you to take ownership of, while providing flexibility for you to develop your own interests and passions. You will no doubt finish your year of service feeling like you have contributed to AFF’s mission and left a lasting impact on the organization, while at the same time gaining invaluable experience to continue a career in the environmental field.

So I moved from my hometown San Francisco Bay Area to the Chesapeake Bay Area for an opportunity that has ultimately led me to my beloved job with the Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Bridging the Watershed Program. Not-so-coincidentally I’m currently working on a project to incorporate service-learning into the Program – a beautiful extension of the project I worked on while I was a Corps member. The Conservation Corps not only provided me with the skills to obtain my job at AFF, but also nurtured a passion for stewardship that I am able to continue in my new post. The Corps is a great training ground for a career in the environmental field, whether in non-profit management, education, policy, or scientific fieldwork. Who knows, you may even start a life-long love affair with the projects you engage in during your year of service!

Ready For a Cleaner, Greener Anacostia River?

March 4th, 2013

Guest post by, Madeline Koenig, Membership and Volunteer Coordinator, Anacostia Watershed Society 


Are you ready for a cleaner, greener Anacostia River?

We are!  Here at the Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS), we’ve been busy getting ready for our annual Earth Day Cleanup and Celebration.

AWS has been hosting an annual Earth Day Cleanup and Celebration in partnership with other local organizations like the Alice Ferguson Foundation and Seafarers Yacht Club for 24 years now!

While the event has taken a variety of forms throughout the years, the primary focus has always remained the same:  bringing the diverse communities of the Anacostia River watershed together; increasing awareness about the issue of trash pollution in our local communities; and taking action to remove as much trash and debris as possible from our streets and streams! 

From 9:00am – 2:00pm on April 20th we will be busy transforming the Anacostia River.

YOU can help!

More than 2,000 community members have joined us annually in past years for a variety of reasons.  Whether they need service learning hours, want to give back to their community, make the world a better place, or instill in their children a sense of love and stewardship for the natural environment, they all come to the Anacostia River to do it!   Of volunteering on the Anacostia, one DC resident says:

“I want to help the river heal.”

While there are more than 15 different cleanup sites to choose from this year, spots filling up quickly, so we encourage you to visit and sign up to help the river heal TODAY!

See you on the 20th!

If you have questions about volunteering with the Anacostia Watershed Society as part of our annual Earth Day Cleanup and Celebration, please call or email Maddie Koenig at 301-699-6204 ext. 109 or [email protected].