A Leafy Way to Spend a Saturday

This past Saturday, more than 70 volunteers of all ages joined AWS staff and interns to plant trees on the hillside surrounding the Bladensburg Wetlands!

Many thanks to the wonderful volunteers pictured below, as well the others who have joined us in the last two weeks! As a direct result of their hard work, we have planted more than 100 of the 900 trees planned for this location.  

We still need your help! Tree plantings with AWS are scheduled for every Saturday in April! Click here to visit the calendar to sign up, or call our Volunteer Coordinator at 301-699-6204 ext. 109. 

See you there!

Austin (AWS intern) helps two volunteers break up soil that has been compacted over the years, giving roots room to grow!

This Week at AWS

This week is a busy one in the stewardship office. Actually, all of April is pretty action-packed for us, but this week, we have been working on a smorgasbord of different projects. So, let's review...

On Monday, Jorge and I took our DNR StreamWaders gear and headed to a channelized stream in Colmar Manor to do some macroinvertebrate sampling. We were surprised that in this concrete waterway, with almost no natural habitat, we found a big crayfish in our bucket! That's interesting news for the folks over at DNR, no doubt.

A big crayfish (cambarus acuminatus) found in our sample


Our annual Earth Day Cleanup & Celebration event is less than 2½ weeks away! Please join us this year in honoring Earth Day on April 21 by helping clean up the watershed. Most cleanup activities run from 9 am to noon; for specific locations (nearly 40 total!) and times, please visit our Earth Day Google Map. Following the cleanup will be a celebration (part of The Nature Conservancy’s Picnic for the Planet) at RFK Stadium parking lot #6 from noon to 2 pm featuring live music, guest speakers, exhibits, organizational tables, and free food and drinks prepared by Seafarer’s Yacht Club. For more details please visit our Earth Day webpage.

Laying in bed all day ... wetbeds, that is!

Last week, our stewardship interns Austin and Kristen went out to the wetbeds at the Bladensburg Wetlands (ANA-11) to plant a bunch of the wild rice and other wetland plants we collected over the fall. We plan on using all 19 wetbeds that we installed last year with Lori's Chesapeake Bay Trust grant award (the All Hands On Deck project, another of which I will be leading in a couple months! Details to come.). Most of our beds will fill with wild rice, as well as arrow arum and pickerelweed.

Two of our interns this spring, Kristen and Austin from University of Maryland College Park, preparing trays and planting wild rice seedlings.

This year's wild rice harvest

Wild rice trays at AWS office
Trays of wild rice growing in the AWS office

It's been quite a winter (and now, basically, spring!) for these wild rice seeds, which have come a long way from when we harvested them last fall. Looking at what we've done to store and propagate them, it's really interesting to compare it to the normal cycle of life for a wild rice plant in our watershed.

Let's start with the seed. The wild rice around our watershed usually are ready to harvest around September, all the way through October. Around that time, as the fall weather gets colder and turns to winter, the wild rice seeds that remain are either eaten by the birds or lie dormant in pockets of mud.

Georgetown Day School Gets a Jump on Spring!

The AWS education and stewardship teams were fortunate to have sixteen students from Georgetown Day School over on February 28 for a morning of watershed education, hard work, and even a little bit of fun. These students spent most of their time planting rice sprouts in preparation for a wetland stewardship project in several weeks. So far they have been responsible for creating a healthy sand and soil mixture, filling several flats with this mixture, and then very delicately placing the germinated seeds just under the surface of the soil. All told, we now have 512 new rice “plugs” under grow lights here in our office. It is obvious that these students did an excellent job, as many of these rice plants have sprouted stems of a couple centimeters and a few even have tiny leaves already! This was our first Rice Rangers planting activity of the season and it has set a great precedent for our work to come. Thanks to the Georgetown Day School students for all their hard work!

Voluntarily Happy

According to a Gretchen Rubin, volunteering has a much more profound benefit than you might imagine. It turns out that the service you provide by donating your time and efforts has just as many benefits to the volunteer as it does to the recipient of the service.

In her article Voluntarily Happy, she explains how the benefits of volunteering reach far beyond just those you are serving. "Studies show that this habit boosts happiness; those who work to further the causes they value tend to be happier and healthier, experience fewer aches and pains, and even live longer. They show fewer signs of physical and mental aging" (Rubin, 2012). 

AWS' Internship Opportunities


Our Summer Interns from last year (from left to right, Alexandra, Jason, Mike, Mallory and Juvencio) after a morning of hard work in the tidal wetlands of the River.

There hasn't been a better time than now to become an AWS intern! Our organization is growing, we have new exciting programs and projects; and a dedicated and amicable staff that works hard at cleaning and restoring the Anacostia River and its watershed. This year we have 12 internship (unpaid) positions available for the spring and summer:


  • Arborist Intern (1 position)
  • Meadow Restoration Intern (1 position)
  • Stewardship Interns (3 positions)


Stewardship Team presents the new "Species Special"

New Species Special series! First edition: Tulip poplar

We are excited to announce our new spotlight series, called the Species Special. Each episode, we're going to highlight one of the species (be it a woody plant, herbaceous, wetland, a combination, etc.) that we at Anacostia Watershed Society favor in our conservation work, that are native to the Chesapeake Bay watershed and have high value for wildlife, streambank stabilization, nutrient reduction, or any number of other benefits that our projects yield.

This edition is on the Tulip Poplar, or the liriodendron tulipifera. This species's native range goes from southern Illinois east to New England, and as far south as Louisiana and Florida. It is the state tree of Indiana, Kentucky, AND Tennessee.

First Volunteer Event of 2012!

AWS' volunteering and stewardship programs welcomed the new year on a beautiful, unseasonably warm Thursday this past week! Membership and Volunteer Coordinator (Maddie) and VolunteerMaryland Coordinator (Heather) worked with a group of volunteers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture at Riverside Neighborhood Park near Riverdale Park and Edmonston, MD.

Twenty-five volunteers worked hard to remove trash and non-native plants from the park and small surrounding stream, located right along the Northeast Branch of the Anacostia River. Nearby is also the Northeast Branch Trail, which can take you all the way from Beltsville to Bladensburg and beyond!

(Volunteer in action)



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