The AWS education team has been keeping busy this fall working with area students and volunteers to improve the biodiversity within the watershed. Saving Our Native Grasslands (SONG) is a new program we have created to bolster the efforts of our stewardship team in their work on the Anacostia Riparian Meadow Restoration project (ARMR).
The past couple of weeks were busy ones for the Education team. We took advantage of the gorgeous fall weather by being outside practically every day with both students and adult volunteers. A good portion of our time was spent collecting various seeds as the plants matured, dried, and began to drop their fruits at the cold's approach.
Students collect Partridge Pea Seeds at ANA 11
All of the seeds we collected fall into two categories, wetland plants and meadow plants, and have differing modes of collection.
Whoosh! The flap of the cormorant’s wings lifted it away from the water. It didn’t seem too perturbed by its missed catch. It would have another shot. Twenty yards downriver a snowy white egret stood perfectly still, a lesson in elegance and poise. Red-eared sliders, true to their name, slid one-by-one from their sunning logs into the water at our approach. A bald eagle, barely visible from its great height, surveyed all below.
This is just a glimpse of my first trip out onto the Anacostia River and from this experience, I could tell the watershed and I would have a full year’s worth of adventures and stories to tell by the end of next August.
Lunch for a cormorant.
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:
AWS has been fortunate to partner with the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation and FedEx to expand our environmental education program and give DC schoolchildren hands-on experiences in helping to restore the river and understand their environment. NFWF and FedEx recently created a video showcasing this work. Check it out!
Trays of wild rice growing in the AWS office
It's been quite a winter (and now, basically, spring!) for these wild rice seeds, which have come a long way from when we harvested them last fall. Looking at what we've done to store and propagate them, it's really interesting to compare it to the normal cycle of life for a wild rice plant in our watershed.
Let's start with the seed. The wild rice around our watershed usually are ready to harvest around September, all the way through October. Around that time, as the fall weather gets colder and turns to winter, the wild rice seeds that remain are either eaten by the birds or lie dormant in pockets of mud.
The AWS education and stewardship teams were fortunate to have sixteen students from Georgetown Day School over on February 28 for a morning of watershed education, hard work, and even a little bit of fun. These students spent most of their time planting rice sprouts in preparation for a wetland stewardship project in several weeks. So far they have been responsible for creating a healthy sand and soil mixture, filling several flats with this mixture, and then very delicately placing the germinated seeds just under the surface of the soil. All told, we now have 512 new rice “plugs” under grow lights here in our office. It is obvious that these students did an excellent job, as many of these rice plants have sprouted stems of a couple centimeters and a few even have tiny leaves already! This was our first Rice Rangers planting activity of the season and it has set a great precedent for our work to come. Thanks to the Georgetown Day School students for all their hard work!
AWS Rice Rangers ready to restore the wetlands!
DCEEC facilitators helping teachers assemble water quality test kits
By: Carey Goldman, Stewardship Fall Intern
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