ACCOKEEK — The Department of Natural Resources announced its awarding of the 2019 Keep Maryland Beautiful Grants to 71 schools, nonprofits, municipalities and land trusts throughout Maryland, three of which were from Prince George’s County, totaling $215,505 on March 20.
These grants will go towards environmental education, community cleanup and beautification projects as part of the Keep Maryland Beautiful Program. The grants are funded by the Maryland Environmental Trust (MET), which is a unit of the Maryland Department of Natural resources, as well as the Department of Housing and Community Development and the Maryland Department of Transportation.
Recipients from Prince George’s County were the Alice Ferguson Foundation, the City of Greenbelt Department of Public Works and the Town of Colmar Manor.
“A core part of our mission at Maryland Environmental Trust is to support nonprofits and community organizations that promote stewardship of our open spaces, environmental education and neighborhood greening activities,” said MET Director Bill Leahy.
As part of their mission to preserve and protect Maryland’s most treasured landscapes and natural resources, the MET works with landowners, local communities and citizen land trust providing direct assistance, information and tools in the effort to preserve these landmarks. The organization is the state’s oldest land trust with over 1,080 conservation easements that preserve over 130,000 acres statewide.
“We continue to seek paths of expanding our Keep Maryland Beautiful grants program to increase its impact across the state,” Leahy said.
Recipients of this year’s grant come from 15 counties and Washington, D.C. Five different awards were given; a $5,000 Aileen Hughes award named for a leader in the conservation movement; five Bill James Environmental Grants totaling $4,250; 48 Clean Up & Green Up Maryland awards totaling $158,005; 10 Janice Hollman Grants totaling $40,000; and seven Margaret Rosch Jones Awards totaling $8,250.
All three Prince George’s County grant winners received the Clean Up & Green Up Maryland Grant which was established in 2017 with the goal of helping community groups and nonprofit organizations with neighborhood beautification efforts such as litter removal, greening activities and community education.
The Alice Ferguson Foundation is an environmental and stewardship nonprofit based in Accokeek. The organization is named for Alice Ferguson, an environmental advocate who wanted to get the community involved with community beautification.
“She was a Washingtonian who cared about getting people out into the environment to learn about it and care about it,” said Laura Cattell Noll, program manager for the organizations Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative. “We continue that mission today.”
According to Noll, the organizations works with thousands of school students and community members with the goal of watershed education and outreach engagement.
The Alice Ferguson Foundation has applied for the grant for a number of years and it is used to organize their cleanup on-site leader training where they will train community members and local organizations to clean up their local parks, waterways and neighborhoods with the goal of a trash-free community and water.
This is the third year they have been able to hold site leader trainings with the grant and they have been very popular, Noll said. In the past year they have trained 75 new cleanup site leaders throughout the entire Potomac watershed.
“They are very popular for people for care about the environment and want to take on a leadership role in the community,” Noll said. “They get their own kit to take home with them with all of the support and supplies they need to clean up.”
The vision is that these site leaders will participate in the annual Potomac Watershed Cleanup. This year will be the 31st annual Potomac Watershed Cleanup, Noll said, and over the past 30 years, the Alice Ferguson Foundation has worked with more than 150 thousand volunteers to remove seven million pounds of trash total. In Maryland alone, that’s about two million pounds of trash.
“Once the site leaders train, they become part of that legacy,” Noll said. “They get to do this in their own community. We anticipate that these trained site leaders will go on to engage other members of their community and remove thousands of pounds of trash.”
The Town of Colmar Manor received $5,000 from the Clean Up & Green Up Maryland Grant and will be using it to assist with litter prevention and trash removal.
“We have trash cans that we established throughout the town that we need to place,” said President of the Colmar Manor Garden Club Doreatha Epps. “Since we are near that park area, we find that a lot of people use the town to get to the park and we find more trash in the town so we are trying to put them in our problem areas.”
This was the first grant that Epps has ever written and she took on the endeavor in an attempt to beautify the town. In addition to being president of the Garden Club she is a member of the towns green team and discussed with the members ways to prevent the accumulation of trash in the town.
“We feel that with trash cans close by, we hope that people will be aware of them and start using them.”
Finally, the City of Greenbelt Department of Public Works will use its grand money to remove large trash items from its over 200 acres of protected forests. Parts of these forests were historically used as unofficial dumping sites and the town wishes to preserve its staple landmark.