301 different species
piscataway park ranked top 10 in the u.s.
On Saturday, May 21, 2016 it was pouring rain in Piscataway Park. According to herpetologist Sarah Kuppert, this meant many of the park's reptilian inhabitants would be hard to find. But the rain was perfect for spotting amphibians. So out she trudged, along with a group of community volunteers, to see what sorts of frogs and salamanders they could identify.
This "herp walk" was part of the 2016 BioBlitz--a nationwide biodiversity inventory in celebration of the National Park centennial. Sponsored by National Geographic, the BioBlitz brought together scientists and students all over the country and challenged them to identify as many species as possible living in national park land.
"Algae of the genus rhoicosphenia observed growing on another species of algae growing on a small snail." -inaturalist post
The day before the rainy "herp walk," over 100 students (many of whom had never visited a national park before) hit the trails of Piscataway Park with local ornithologists, botanists, entomologists, and even a phycologist (an algae scientist). They scooped water from puddles, brushed algae off rocks on the Potomac shoreline, and dipped buckets into the river, finding over 20 different species of algae in just 2 days.
Those two days, and the work of all of the scientists, students, and volunteers, placed Piscataway Park in the top 10 parks in the country for number of observations collected. It's a truly humbling experience to learn that such a small parcel of land is home to so much biodiversity, and it reinforces the need to protect this park for all who call it home.
Hōkūleʻa lands at Piscataway Park
"it brought people together that often don't get together...and so it was a very unifying day." -Gabi Tayac
This historical event brought about 400 new visitors to Piscataway Park to welcome and celebrate the arrival of the Hokule'a and her crew. This day's event included dockside tribal greeting, ceremonial song, dance, and exchange of gifts between the Polynesian Voyaging Society and Piscataway tribal leaders. The ceremony was followed by a meal of fellowship. The Accokeek Foundation sponsored as hosts and provided a welcoming space for our guests. As Chief Billy Tayac stated, "this was the first time in 400 years that someone has asked for permission to come to Piscataway territory."
"Where you're standing at is the capital of the piscataway indian nation. it's called moyaone. we've been here over 12,000 years. our ancestors are buried in this land. that's what makes this land so sacred. on behalf of the piscataway indian nation, and speaking humbly on behalf of the earth mother, i wish to welcome you here." -Chief billy tayac
28th Annual Potomac River Clean-Up
2016 marked the 28th Annual Potomac River Clean-Up event. This watershed wide event includes hundreds of sites and thousands of volunteers joining together to pitch in and pick up the Potomac River. With over two miles of shoreline to steward, the Accokeek Foundation welcomed 50 volunteers to help collect trash this year.
1,350 pounds of trash removed
193 tennis balls
2 digital cameras
1 propane tank
Eco-Explorers: Colonial Time Warp
2015-2016 school year: 2,500 students from Maryland, DC, & Virginia
The flagship program of the Accokeek Foundation's "Green History" initiative is the "Eco-Explorers: Colonial Time Warp" school tour. Since the pilot in 2014, Eco-Explorers has gained increasing traction with local schools and this year our unique programming was recognized by regional and national organizations, bringing in nearly $30,000 in grant funding for school programs alone.
In May of 2016, Eco-Explorers was awarded the inaugural "Innovation in Museum Education" award from the American Alliance of Museums, a national organization dedicated to museum advocacy. The judges chose to recognize Eco-Explorers over programs from organizations all over the country as they feel the program "foster[s] cross-disciplinary approaches that favor critical thinking and user-centered decision-making."
Every Kid in a Park
The National Park Foundation supported transportation for local fourth graders through the Every Kid in a Park grant, reimbursing schools for the cost of buses to our site in the spring of 2016. With this support, were partnered with the National Park Trust's Buddy Bison program to provide fully funded field trips to over 500 children from local Title I schools. With the success of this program in 2016, we have received another Every Kid in a Park grant which will allow us to engage new audiences from high-needs schools in our region during the upcoming school year.
Green History Weekends
"Instead of considering 1770 as a time just before the American Revolution, what if we used this snapshot in time to look at family habits in an era when people were more directly connected to each environmental choice they made?" -Andrea Jones, Director of Programs
We have this innate sense that learning about our history is important, but what are the real ways in which this knowledge can help us? How do we apply the lessons of colonial Southern Maryland to the pressing environmental issues that plague modern society? These are the questions that led the Foundation to develop "Green History Weekends," which pair first-person living history with correlating modern day environmental concerns.
In 2016, the Foundation presented four exhibits that focused on soil health, water conservation, food waste, and energy conservation. Designed to connect visitors with the value of the planet's resources in a meaningful way and teach practical skills that can be applied in everyday life, each exhibit explored the following essential question:
"What is more important? Convenience or Conservation? Can we have both?"
Lattes with Lambs
"i liked seeing all the wool processing. and making cheese. i never knew you could make your own cheese and butter."
How do you go about saving an animal that people don't realize needs to be saved? You organize a meet and greet for the entire community and call it "Lattes with Lambs."
During the second annual Lattes with Lambs, community members descended on the farm to meet the newest additions to the Accokeek Foundation barnyard. Visitors were treated to behind-the-scene barn tours, sheep shearing demonstrations, butter and cheese making lessons, and a sheep-to-shawl activity. But the new barnyard babies are more than just fuzzy faces--they're part of a critical effort to maintain livestock biodiversity and bring back endangered breeds of cattle, sheep, hogs, and poultry.
With fewer than 200 American Milking Devon cattle, Hog Island Sheep, and Ossabaw hogs born in the U.S. each year, every birth at the Foundation is another step towards recovery, but that recovery can't happen without the help of our community. As faces are painted and animal selfies are taken, we also ask that visitors learn more about the animals that sustain us and make educated decisions and consumers and citizens.
Stitch 'n Time Club
783.5 service hours
While the old adage that a "stitch in time saves nine" may be true, the Stitch 'n Time club is trying to save more than just stitches. This group of dedicated volunteers spent hundreds of hours in 2016 preserving traditional textiles skills and the Foundation's endangered Hog Island sheep flock.
After the flock was sheared in May, the Stitch 'n Time club collected 15 fleeces and began the long process of washing, picking, and carding the wool in preparation for spinning. While some of the wool ended its journey here, other fleeces were bound for natural dye baths, drop spindles, traditional spinning wheels, crochet hooks, and knitting needles. The sale of hand-spun Hog Island yarn and hand-knit Hog Island hats, scarves, and gloves in turn helped raise just over $500 to support the Foundation's heritage breed conservation efforts.