Anacostia Watershed Blog

Storm Drain Mural Project Creates Awareness and Opportunities for Artists

Many people do not think about where water goes after it hits the street and enters a storm drain. Our goal as an organization is to raise awareness and then empower individuals to make a positive impact on their local streams. Strorm drain murals help address the critical first step of raising awareness and helping people to understand that no matter where they are in the Anacostia Watershed their actions have a direct impact on the Anacostia River.

We recently painted 10 storm drain murals in the Brookland neighborhood of Northeast DC with the help of students from Mary McLeod Bethune Day Academy Public Charter School. Local artists designed the murals and the students assisted with the painting. 


AWS awarded The North Face Explore Fund Grant

The North Face has awarded a $2,500 grant to the Anacostia Watershed Society to help children explore the outdoors through our Rice Rangers program.  AWS was selected from hundreds of applications because of our commitment to innovative hands-on watershed education.  In the final grant cycle of 2011, The North Face awarded $125,000 Explore Fund grants to 51 projects helping more than 30,000 kids to connect to nature.

“We believe in the importance of bringing youth together from diverse backgrounds and providing them with opportunities to get outdoors,” said Ann Krcik, director of Outdoor Exploration at The North Face.  “We support organizations that work to create these opportunities for youth because we’ve seen firsthand how these programs can ignite a passion for the outdoors and teach them the importance of protecting the places we play for generations to come.”

AWS participates in DC Teachers' Night

Last night, AWS took part in the 5th Annual DC Teachers' Night at the US Botanic Garden.  This event, hosted by the DC Environmental Education Consortium, provides an opportunity for DC teachers to learn about all the Environmental Education opportunities available in the District.  The event was attended by more than 100 DC Teachers who had the opportunity to network with 35 different exhibitors.

We were happy to see many teachers who have participated in our AWS Education Programs at the event.  It was a great opportunity to network with our existing partners, as well as make connections with new teachers.

Environmental Educator Position Opening

As mentioned on the blog last week, Wendy Van Norden recently accepted a position at NASA.  We were sad to see her go, but we know we'll see her again at future AWS events.  We are hoping to hire someone to fill Wendy's spot within the next few weeks.  Please see the position description below, and spread the word to anyone who you think would be a good fit for the Education Team here at AWS.

Environmental Educator Position Description

Please contact Ariel Trahan for more information -

Exciting Week for Environmental Literacy!

This week marked several milestones in the effort to increase the environmental literacy of students in our region.

On Tuesday the Maryland State Board of Education voted to require that students get a “comprehensive, multi-disciplinary environmental education.” Maryland is the first state in the nation to implement an environmental literacy graduation requirement.  This new requirement necessitates that school districts develop plans to ensure that environmental education is incorporated into the curriculum, and that all students are environmentally literate.

Also on Tuesday of this week, the District Department of the Environment hosted a Kick-Off Event to bring all the stakeholders in the District together to develop an Environmental Literacy Plan for the District.  As mandated by the Healthy Schools Act of 2010, the District must develop an Environmental Literacy Plan by June 30, 2012.

AWS Honored as a Maryland Green Center

We're officially a Maryland Green Center!
Now we can help the schools we work with to become Green Schools!

The Anacostia Watershed Society was one of seven environmental/outdoor centers to be newly certified as Maryland Green Centers at the Maryland Green School Awards Ceremony and Youth Summit on June 3rd at Sandy Point State Park. Certification of Maryland Green Centers is administered by the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE).

The certificates we received for becoming a Maryland Green Center including one from Representative Chris Van Hollen and Senator Ben Cardin.

A Day in the Marsh

Students from University Park Elementary School prepare to take their arrow arum plants out into the marsh.

This week 130 students participated in wetland plantings in Kenilworth Marsh. Students from University Park Elementary School and Achievement Preparatory Academy spent the morning transplanting arrow arum, wild rice, and spatterdock into the mudflats of Kenilworth Marsh.  These students are participating in our Rice Rangers Program.  As participants in the program, the students raise wetland plant seedlings in their classrooms that are then transplanted into the marsh.  By restoring the wetlands along the Anacostia River, these students are not only restoring the habitat, but also increasing the filtering capacity of the river.

No Joke -- These Photos Were Taken Today

Sadly, the pictures below are not another April Fools' Day joke.  They were taken today near Beltsville, Md. by AWS Water Quality Specialist Masaya Maeda.  They are a clear indication that we still have some work ahead of us before we are able to reach our goal of a swimmable and fishable Anacostia River.

Please do you part to help us achieve that goal by coming out to our annual Earth Day Cleanup next Saturday, April 9th!

Unfortunately, trash and sediment pollution remain significant problems in the Anacostia Watershed, as seen in the photos above, taken today upstream of Indian Creek, near Beltsville, Md.

Rice Rangers program off to a great start

Teachers getting their hands dirty and planting Wild Rice seeds.

Last Saturday the Education Team officially launched the Rice Rangers Program!  Teachers gathered at the AWS Headquarters for a full day of orientation about the program.  The morning was spent indoors learning about the history of wetlands, how to incorporate wetland education in the classroom, and figuring out the logistics of growing wetland plants in the classroom.  During the afternoon session, the teachers and AWS educators took a field trip to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens to construct goose fencing in the marsh.  When the teachers bring their students out to the marsh later this spring, they will plant inside the fences to ensure the plants are not eaten by Canada Geese.

Teachers working to install goose fencing at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.

Busy Beavers Flood Local Parking Lot

Flooded parking lot at Magruder Park in Hyattsville, Md.

Recently, some beavers have been busy building a large dam in Magruder Park.  There is significant evidence of beaver activity along the back edge of the parking lot.  The beavers have felled many trees and created a large dam causing the parking lot to flood.

Beaver dam at Magruder Park.

Beavers are second only to humans in their ability to change their surrounding environment. They create dams to transform fields or forests (or in this case a parking lot!) into wetlands.  The large ponds that they create also provide habitat for other animals, such as the Mallard Ducks seen flying in the photo below.