Tar Sands Action!

For all of you in DC, On November 6th Greenpeace invites people to encircle the White House to ask President Obama to oppose the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Let me know if you want to go with me, it’s a great opportunity to show your support for a major environmental issue!

Sign Up Using This Link!


Stream Cleaning!

A few weeks ago I signed up to help clean-up a section of Rock Creek Park with the Environmental Law Institute’s “Stream Team.” So, once again I woke up at 9:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning. Almost missed the meeting place, but I eventually found my group. We all put on the gloves that the organizer provided, and then started our way down a steep hill to the stream. I was just praying I wouldn’t slip in the mud on the way down in front of all my outdoorsy coworkers.

I was amazed by the kind of stuff we found when we were cleaning up the park. Along the main trail there were just a few scraps of paper and trash, which made me wonder why were even there. But, as soon as we climbed up the hill into the woods I was shocked to find way more beer bottles and other trash than I could fit in my trash bag. Unfortunately, while I was finding trash, the mosquitoes found me.

For two hours the ten of us made constant trips up and down the hill, filling about 20 trash bags with bottles and trash that we found blanketing our section of woods. It was sad to think about how many people must have spent time hanging out on the hill, and then just added their bottles to the collection on the hill. It really was out of hand, and even after our group’s hours of work I’m sure we hardly made a dent in the amount of trash stashed in the park’s woods.

What to Wear: Definitely wear long pants, old jeans are the best. Wear shoes that you don’t mind getting muddy, especially if it just rained. I love flip-flops, but they would have been a terrible, terrible idea when hiking through plants and mud and bugs and who knows what else.

What to Bring: Bugspray!! This I did not do, and I got absolutely eaten alive. Don’t make the same mistake!! Also bring work gloves if they aren’t provided, because there is no way I would use my bare hands to touch the disgusting stuff we picked up. Also, lots of trash bags. Remember to separate the recycling and trash as you go so you don’t need to sort through it at the end. You won’t want to touch the stuff you find more than once, trust me. I brought a little drawstring bag with a waterbottle and camera, which was good because you will want to carry your stuff with you.

Other Tips: Have fun. Bring a few people with you so you can show off all the ridiculous things you find, such as beer bottles that have roots growing over them because they have been there so long. And ceramic bowls with little rabbits painted inside. Plus, if you bring friends you can commiserate about how much you all hate mosquitoes. And most importantly, if other people are there you probably will stay longer because you won’t want to look like a wimp in front of them, which is beneficial to the environment!

Though the group I went with was organized by the Environmental Law Institute (a really cool nonprofit by the way) where I am an intern, other students could easily do the same sort of thing. Anywhere from one person to an entire group could really make a difference, and all you need to commit is a few hours on some random day. So try it!

Greenpeace: Doing Big Things

This week I interviewed Dan Cannon, the Student Network Coordinator at
Greenpeace. Dan was really interested in my project, and we discussed
ways college students can get involved with Greenpeace’s national
campaigns. Here is information that I found out about some of these
projects and links if you would like to get more involved.

Tar Sands Action – November 6th at the White House
On November 6, 2011 Greenpeace invites students and other activists to encircle the White House. The protesters will ask President Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which would run from Alberta, Canada to Texas. The pipeline would destroy ecosystems, pollute water, and cause other environmental and public health hazards. Students can play an important role in speaking out and educating the public about the risks of building this pipeline, so click the link above you want to find out more about how to get signed-up!

100% Clean 100 Actions
Students can work on Greenpeace campaigns for cleaner energy on college campuses. Across the U.S. student activists have worked to shut down coal plants on their campuses and promote clean energy options.

Greenpeace Semester
The Greenpeace Semester is basically a study “abroad” opportunity, but with Greenpeace in Washington, DC. Students learn the fundamentals of grassroots organizing and run a Greenpeace campaign.

Greenpeace Student Network
If you want to get more involved in Greenpeace campaigns, this website can connect you with other student activists across the nation.

There are so many ways for students to get involved with Greenpeace campaigns. Everyone I talked to was excited to help out with my project and they are happy to help students find ways to get involved. If you are looking for an opportunity to do something big to help the environment, Greenpeace would be a great place to get started!

Photos From Anacostia Watershed Society Tree Planting

I Never Knew Planting Trees Could Be So Much Fun!

This Saturday I volunteered with the Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS) at Magruder Park in Hyattsville, Maryland. I was really excited all week about going to plant trees, yet when my alarm went off at 7:45 am I really wondered why I was doing this to myself. But, I’m so glad I got myself up and out the door. I can honestly say that planting trees with AWS is one of my favorite experiences in DC so far!

Saturday was an absolutely beautiful fall day: 70 degrees and sunny, with not a single cloud in the sky. I met great people who were also excited about helping out the environment, and I learned how to plant trees correctly! We worked as partners for about two hours, and my partner and I were able to plant four little trees! I kind of want to go check on them to see how they are doing…

I STRONGLY recommend going to one of the Anacostia Watershed Society’s upcoming events. I got a chance to talk to Maddie Koenig, the volunteer coordinator at AWS. She said that AWS gets all sorts of people signed up for events: college student groups, church groups, high school students, retired individuals, and the list goes on.

Here’s a bit of advice to make it easier to get involved:
What to Expect: AWS provides everything you will need. Gloves, tools, trees, fertilizer: it’s all there for you. Maddie demonstrated exactly how to plant a tree correctly, and also gave us a lot of interesting background information on why planting trees is so important to the Anacostia Watershed. And yes, there are bathrooms available!

What to Bring: I brought a small drawstring bag with just a water bottle, camera (to take proud pictures next to my little trees), and wallet (for my metro card). Keep it light because you’ll be moving around and won’t want to leave your stuff sitting anywhere. Sunscreen and bugspray could also be useful.

What to Wear: Definitely wear long pants and closed-toed shoes. You will get a bit dirty, especially if it is wet outside.

How to Get There (If you go to American University like me): In all it took me a little over an hour to get to Magruder Park, but give yourself a little extra time. The final metro stop is West Hyattsville on the Green Line. Take the Red Line (toward Glenmont) and switch to the Green Line (toward Greenbelt) at Fort Totten. Go only one stop on the Green Line to West Hyattsville, and then get off. You will have to walk about 10 blocks (20 minutes) to get to the park. When you come out of the metro station, walk across the parking lot toward Kentucky Fried Chicken. Continue past the KFC on Hamilton Avenue until you reach 39th and Hamiliton, and you will see the park on your right. Or, if you get lost like me, you can go into a random liquor store to ask how to get to Magruder Park and they will point you in the right direction (thank goodness)!

In the coming weeks I’ll post information on upcoming AWS events. I may even want to participate again myself because I had so much fun the first time! In the mean time, check out the AWS calendar of events.

Tree Planting Event This Saturday!

This Saturday October 15th from 10:00am-1:00pm I will be volunteering at a Tree Planting event for the Anacostia Watershed Society! If anyone wants to join me, just let me know. Not only will I get to plant little trees, but the AWS staff will talk about history and ecology of the watershed and point out interesting wildlife. Plus, all the supplies will be provided AND you get a snack!!

Stay posted for my recap of the event!

Check It Out: DC EnvironMentors

Guess what I got to do today?? I got to interview Jackie Krisch, the Director of DC EnvironMentors!! Plus, Jackie is a 2008 graduate of American University, where I am currently a Washington Semester student. Here’s a recap of my interview with her, with information on why (and how) students should get involved at EnvironMentors.

So, What is EnvironMentors?

EnvironMentors is a national college access program that helps prepare high school students for college-level environmental science work. Students are paired with mentors who are college students, educators, or science and environmental professionals. The high school students work with their mentors on a research project, with the top projects receiving college scholarships. Students gain the skills to not only get into college, but also to succeed in college. For this reason, the program focuses on improving college-level writing skills and teaching students to design their own experiments that include databases, academic journal articles, and expert interviews. Nearly 2,500 DC high students have participated in EnvironMentors, with 96% of these students graduating from high school and 92% accepted to college. For more information, you should check out their website: http://ncseonline.org/program/environmentors

How can a busy college student get involved?

-Become a Mentor: (3 times per month, 1-2 hour meeting) Being a mentor is an amazing opportunity to really impact a high school student’s life. Mentors come from a variety of places, so the experience is also a great networking opportunity for college students who are looking to find jobs after college. The mentors and students meet in a group, so volunteers get to meet other college students, educators, and professionals who are also passionate about education and the environment.

-Experimental Design Workshops: (2 hours) Students who are interested in getting involved, but don’t have time to commit to being a mentor should contact EnvironMentors about participating in an Experimental Design Workshop. This opportunity would be great for a Biology major, because college students at the workshops help the high school students brainstorm how to do their experiments.

-Reviewing Students’ Work: (2 hours per meeting, 4 meetings) The experiments and written assignments are judged for the scholarship component of the program, so there are opportunities to get involved in the review process of the students’ work.

-University Library Visits: EnvironMentors works with universities in DC to bring their students to university libraries. College students could work with EnvironMentors to set up these visits and help the high school students learn how to use the library for their research projects.

-Career Advisor: (2 hours at the Environmental Career Workshop) Share your story of your college journey with students in order to broaden their understanding of an environmental career.

If you are thinking about jobs after college…

I know that after college I hope to be involved in an environmental organization, so I asked Jackie to describe what it is like working for EnvironMentors. She said that working at a small non-profit is a great job for someone who considers himself or herself a “jack of all trades.” Their staff is only fifteen people, but within this group is a wide range of skill sets. It sounds like a really fun place to work and take on a lot of responsibility.

So, that’s the recap of my exciting first interview of this project! I had a lot of fun speaking to Jackie about EnvironMentors, and I will continue to keep you posted on ways to get involved with this and other environmental organizations in DC.