The Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative
Student Action Committee
The Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative Student Action Committee was created as a joint effort between the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) and the Alice Ferguson Foundation to engage high school students in developing environmental stewardship and participation in trash cleanups in our region.
In February, 2007, Twenty high school students from eleven DC, Maryland and Virginia high schools met with Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen at The Capitol to take a leadership role in the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative.
The students were selected to be members of the new "Student Action Committee" because of their high level of motivation to find solutions and create public awareness about how we can work with government leaders, schools and communities to eliminate the serious trash problem in the Potomac River Watershed.
They participated in cleanups and developed “trash-free” public education messages that resulted in original posters; a completed video; and a Power Point educational presentation for elementary school students; and an opportunity to participate in the Youth Conservation Corps program of the National Park Service, which introduces young Americans to conservation opportunities in national parks.
The Student Action Comittee will display their trash free public education messages at the 2nd Annual Potomac Watershed Trash Summit on June 14th.
Congressman Chris Van Hollen Welcomes Student Leadership
Twenty high school students from eleven DC, Maryland, and Virginia high schools met with Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen yesterday to take a leadership role in the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative. The students were selected to be members of the new "Student Action Committee" because of their high level of motivation to find solutions and create public awareness about how we can work with government leaders, schools and communities to eliminate the serious trash problem in the Potomac Watershed.
Juan Garcia from Freedom High School in Woodbridge stated “By protecting the Potomac watershed we are showing everyone that we care about our living areas. We are also proving to many people that the youth of our nation have a voice and as youth we are preserving our environment for future generations.”
"These students have an opportunity to use their creativity to encourage all of us to take personal responsibility for cleaning up our watershed," said Congressman Van Hollen. "I salute them for stepping up to the plate to get something done. We look forward to welcoming and including their vision for positive change in this year's second annual Potomac Watershed Trash Summit."
COG and the Alice Ferguson Foundation created this unique opportunity for students to take a leadership role on the trash issue.
"We think youth are a key part of the solution, and through their efforts mobilizing friends, family and communities, we'll get there," said Tracy Bowen, Executive Director of the Alice Ferguson Foundation. In meetings at COG headquarters in Washington, DC, the students will explore environmental stewardship and gain awareness of leadership and the numerous ways in which we can all become leaders.
Parnian Davoodi of Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda stated: "Primarily what I expect from this committee is to go the step beyond finding a problem to actively make a difference. I want to gain leadership skills in regard to solving current and future environmental issues while creating a widespread awareness in my community.” The goal of the Student Action Committee is for the students to explore how we can address the trash issue, and for students to provide their own ideas and suggestions for an anti-litter campaign.
Student Action Committee members will be given the opportunity to present their ideas and make recommendations to COG's Board of Directors.
Launched in 2006 by the Alice Ferguson Foundation, the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative seeks to address the trash problem from a watershed-wide approach that will benefit the entire region. Twenty-three elected officials signed the Potomac Watershed Trash Treaty during the 2006 Trash Summit and vowed to help the Potomac become trash-free by 2013. The majority of these signatories are also members of the COG Board of Directors.
"As Chairman of the Advisory Council for the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative, I applaud the more than twenty counties, cities and leaders in the Potomac region that have signed the Potomac Watershed Trash Treaty," Congressman Van Hollen said. "Together we recognize that a community that respects itself must take responsibility for cleaning up its great waterways - the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. This initiative holds great promise for significant and tangible results."
The Student Action Committee is an important step toward this goal of a trash-free Potomac watershed.
Contact Heidi Bonnaffon at firstname.lastname@example.org , 202.962.3216 or Christine Howard at email@example.com , 202.962.3366. if you have any questions or comments.
What other students are saying about joining the Student Action Committee:
"I am interested in reducing trash in the Potomac watershed because every animal and person deserves to live in a clean and healthy environment. I would love to do my part to follow through with my convictions of helping the watershed."
"What I hope to gain from this experience is more political awareness. Most of my drive to improve the environment has come from a pure love for the city, but I am fairly unaware of what is being done on a broader scale. I think such knowledge can also help me to be a better influence for other people and hopefully give me more facts that I can use to inspire people to do the same work as I am."
Check out what other students had to say at the March 2006 Trash Summit held at the World Bank.
The Alice Ferguson Foundation
Tracy Bowen - Libby Campbell -Anna Wadhams
The Alice Ferguson Foundation is a non-profit organization located in Accokeek , Maryland . Its mission is to provide experiences that encourage connections between people, the natural environment, farming and the cultural heritage of the Potomac River Watershed, which lead to personal environmental responsibility.
The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments
COG Student Action Committee Manager
Heidi Bonnaffon - Christine Howard
COG is composed of 21 local governments surrounding our nation's capital, plus area members of the Maryland and Virginia legislatures, the U.S. Senate, and the U.S. House of Representatives. COG provides a focus for action and develops sound regional responses to such issues as the environment, affordable housing, economic development, health and family concerns, human services, population growth, public safety, and transportation.