Students in Action: AU Eco-Sense!

This Monday I attended a meeting with American University’s student environmental group, Eco-Sense. I talked about my project and invited the group to help me spread the word about my blog to other AU students. They were really welcoming, and even gave me some ideas on other places to check out for my blog!

Eco-Sense is a really active organization that has very similar goals to what I have been trying to accomplish with this blog. They are dedicated to promoting sustainability and environmental awareness at American University and around DC. If you attend American University, I highly recommend that you check Eco-Sense out. Weekly meetings are held on Thursdays at 7:00 p.m. in MGC 247. It’s a great way to meet other students who are as passionate about the environment as you are!

Join the AU Eco-Sense Facebook group:

Also, check out their website:


What Do You Think?

I have been having a lot of fun talking to people at organizations around DC and I’m discovering how many volunteering opportunities there are in this city. I’d love your feedback on the experiences I’ve posted so far.

Where should I go next? Do you plan to try any of the volunteering options I’ve described? Want to join me at a future tree planting, Greenpeace rally, or some other volunteer opportunity? Post your comments and I’ll be sure to respond promptly!

Also, please join my Facebook Group for this blog for updates on new blog posts and upcoming DC volunteer opportunities.

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.