New educator, new experiences, new understandings

Hey!  I’m Chris Lemieux, AWS’s newest educator.  I’ve only been here for two full weeks now, and I am amazed at how easy it has been to connect with the Anacostia River and its watershed.  I live way up near Sandy Spring, where the Anacostia flows out of the ground and I cross over both the Northwest and Northeast branches almost every day.

Before moving here this summer, I spent the last three years living in Vermont, teaching high school science and before that I was in New Hampshire, studying environmental science at Antioch University New England.  Both of those areas have been lucky enough to foster a sense of stewardship and appreciation for their own unique natural settings, but neither place has the population density of this watershed, nor the access to community resources to act when restoration is necessary.  It is somewhat surreal to me to think about the number of people who live and work in this area, especially when one considers how few of them realize the impact they have on our local waters.  When I see a plastic bag on the street in Layhill or candy wrapper blowing around in Beltsville or a commuter ditching a cigarette butt on 495, I can’t help but think that there is a chance that I could run into that piece of litter at a later time, as I am canoeing out of Bladensburg.

It is very clear to me why AWS decided to bring me on as a new educator.  While AWS already has an experienced education department with a comprehensive curriculum, the fact is that we need to reach as many people as possible in as many ways that we can think of.  We need everyone in this watershed to realize that they have an impact on our natural environment and that each person can be empowered with the knowledge and understanding to improve it.  I just got here and I have been on boat trips, litter clean-ups and native seed collections all with the two pronged approach of educating about the river and restoring it.  In the next few weeks I will be doing more of that plus building rain gardens, removing invasive species and whatever else can be done.  I am very excited to be a part of this team and this community and helping to restore this river.  I mean, can you think of a better job than this?

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