Anacostia Watershed Blog

Outdoor Classrooms are Good for Brains

The outdoor classroom is the perfect environment for people to learn, using both sides of their brain actively -- so 200 students at Kelly Miller Middle School built one at their school. Their outdoor classroom has garden space, fruit trees, and circular seating to promote participation. Funded by the District Department of the Environment through the RiverSmart Schools program, and with the help of American University and the Anacostia Watershed Society, students hammered nails into 2x6s, dug holes for trees, and moved 23 cubic yards of soil and mulch. And they did it all in one day like a Yard Crashers episode! 

Check out these pictures of their great work:

outdoor classroom at Kelly Miller Middle School

Dust in the Anacostia?

Observing a possible oil spill from a helicopter doesn’t quite provide a perspective accurate enough to draw any reasonable conclusions.  We're out on the Anacostia River nearly every day and are very familiar with the way the river looks under many different conditions.  Let me share with you the observations that a few students and I made on Wednesday out on the Anacostia River in canoes. 

This is Jack (pictured above) looking at the water on the main stem of the Anacostia near Kenilworth Marsh.  You can see where his paddle stirred up the water.  Light brown mixing with dark brown, but after a few minutes Jack realized that the two types of water weren’t mixing at all.  “It’s like when you put milk in coffee, except that it never mixed up.”

A Green School in Japan

We visited a Japanese green school today!  This reinforced for me that green design is the balance of human life and activity with local surroundings.

Poster explaining how the snow is used

One of the green features of this green school is to use snow for air conditioning in the summer.  In this region of Niigata approx 10 feet of snow accumulates every winter.  People often enter and exit their homes through the second story windows, but the summers are hot enough to grow tomatoes.

I met a "snow man" and he had a solution to save energy of electricity for air conditioning.

I'm in Japan!  Where's my Purple Line in DC?!?!

I am currently on a two week trip to Japan with the Japan-American Watershed Stewardship program (JAWS).  I am helping to lead 30 high school students from all over the US around Japan to look at watersheds  and wetlands.  My purpose is to help interpret the watershed issues in the US and Japan, help students synthesize what they see and learn, and prepare them to return to the US to conduct a watershed and culture project in their communities.

Scouting Kenilworth Marsh for Rice Rangers Program

Anacostia Watershed Society staff members Jorge Bogantes Montero and Lee Cain met with National Park Service staff Mikaila Milton and Alexis Gelb to discuss a marsh restoration strategy for the spring of 2011 for Kenilworth Marsh.  Through the Rice Rangers program, the AWS education team plans to bring 400 youth into Kenilworth Marsh this spring to help restore the Anacostia's decimated tidal wetlands.  Students will grow wetland plants from seed in their classrooms and then help transplant them into the marsh. 

Jorge watches a fox run across the frozen marsh.

Now Accepting Applications for the Watershed Stewards Academy

Apply now for the National Capital Region-Watershed Stewards Academy!
Application deadline has been extended to January 17, 2011.

The National Capital Region-Watershed Stewards Academy will begin in March and is a 12 class course spanning three months.  Through the course, we will help empower community leaders to guide their neighbors to change the way they handle stormwater. 

Participants graduate from the Academy as Master Watershed Stewards by completing the course and developing a Capstone Project that will reduce pollution and runoff at its source, neighborhood by neighborhood.  Applicants will be drawn from the District and Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties in Maryland. 

The Academy is being run by a coalition of local and regional watershed nonprofit organizations, including the Anacostia Watershed Society.