Lifelong learning adds up for the Anacostia River

Lifelong learning adds up for the Anacostia River
December 30, 2019 by: Maddie Koenig

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In just two years since the Anacostia Watershed Society started running the first Maryland Master Naturalist Program in Prince George's County, we are astonished at how much these lifelong learners have accomplished!

Of the twenty original members of our 2018 cohort, fifteen of these individuals completed all forty of their volunteer hours with AWS to become fully certified Maryland Master Naturalists as of December 2019.  Congratulations to this cohort! 

Also, we have three members of the 2019 cohort who have already completed their forty hours - a whole year in advance. 

These folks have really demonstrated their passion for a clean, healthy Anacostia River and they've been really instrumental in helping AWS accomplish our organizational goals.

Combined, our Master Naturalists have contributed more than 1,100 hours of volunteer service to AWS from August 2018 - December 2019!  The current value of the volunteer hour is $25.43 (https://independentsector.org/news-post/new-value-volunteer-time-2019/) which means this work in total can be valued at close to $28,000.  

Our Master Naturalists have helped with everything from constructing mussel baskets to creating materials for tabling events; from helping manage second graders on field trips to assisting with water quality monitoring.  

Do you want to see the details? Checkout this the breakdown from August 2018 - December 2019:

  • Wetland restoration: 171 hours!
    • Assisting with our wetland workdays at Kingman Marsh (includes planting, removing old fencing, and picking up trash)
    • Finishing the construction of four wetbeds (where we keep and care for young wetland plants) and assisting with the on-going maintenance of these beds
    • Helping with wetland seed collection in the fall months so we have seed for students participating in our Rice Rangers program!
    • Propogating a few new wetland species for AWS and caring for those species over the last year
  • Meadow restoration: 110 hours!
    • Assisting with our meadow workdays (includes seeding native plants, removing invasive plants)
    • Constructing and maintaining six bluebird houses that were installed at the confluence meadow
    • Planning and beginning the construction of a bee house to be installed at the confluence meadow
  • Mussel restoration: 283 hours!
    • Constructing and maintaining the baskets and cages where we keep the juvenile mussels
    • Helping with on-going mussel monitoring - counting survival, measuring growth rates
  • Reforestation efforts: 34 hours!
    • Helping with tree plantings and maintenance (includes removing invasive plants, watering during the hottest months of the year, and maintaining tree shelters) along Dueling Creek and at the various Metro locations, and more.
  • Built environment assistance: 51 hours!
    • Assisting at RiverSmart Schools/Communities planting events
    • Helping to draft and finalize RiverSmart Communities plans
    • Assisting with workdays at the George Washington House (includes weeding, planting, and maintaining the rain gardens here at our office)
  • Recreation on the river: 8.5 hours!
    • Assisting with Discovery Series events, in particular Paddle Nights, where Master Naturalists helped greet visitors, haul canoes, 
  • Youth education: 137 hours!
    • Assisting with the field experience portions of our school-based programming
    • Helping with the preparation of materials for educational programs (including a re-vamp of the shad hatchery manual)
    • Researching and creating new floating wetland designs to be used as part of our Rice Rangers program
  • Communications and community outreach: 189 hours!
    • Assisting at festivals and tabling events like the BioBlitz by helping to set up and take down materials, greet festival attendees, etc.
    • Writing blog posts and articles for the organization
    • Creating fun outreach activities for festivals and tabling events
    • Setting up meetings with community members about local stream restoration
    • Helping out at community cleanups - Earth Day and beyond!
    • Taking and sharing photos to be used in various communication and education materials
  • Research and admin tasks: 41 hours!
    • Researching and creating a new resource list to pair with the NPS Interpretive Framework of the Anacostia River
    • Sorting through all of this data!
    • Setting up events for our Master Naturalists to learn more about other organizations in the area (we visited Washington Parks and People this fall!)
  • Citizen science: 93 hours!
    • Monitoring amphibian life with DOEE's FrogWatch program
    • Monitoring bluebird presence and nesting activity at the confluence meadow
    • Assisting our water quality speciliast with weekly water quality monitoring along the mainstem of the Anacostia
    • Sorting trash collected in our trash trap 

Looking to 2020, we're going to make some changes to the program that will hopefully help even more people become Master Naturalists.  Instead of the coursework happening each Saturday throughout the summer, we looking to change to one Saturday per month throughout the year. We know our lifelong learners typically have busy schedules, and we expect this change will work for even more people who want to take this deeper dive into the Anacostia River.

If you are interested in learning more about the Maryland Master Naturalist Program with the Anacostia Watershed Society, don't hesitate to send me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Click to enlarge image 10.5.19 - Jenny at GW House.jpg

2018 Master Naturalist Jenny weeds and plants during a workday at the George Washington House!

Maddie Koenig

Maddie Koenig

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