News Release, Alice Ferguson Foundation
ACCOKEEK, Md. – Change is in the air at the Alice Ferguson Foundation (AFF) with a new Executive Director, exciting community outreach opportunities, and refreshed education programs.
AFF welcomed Theresa Cullen as its new Executive Director in late August. Cullen joins AFF with more than 25 years of experience in education in the United States, and internationally. Most recently, she served as Head of The American School in Switzerland, where she directed the operational and instructional program for 200 students on a 3-campus school, as well as a 45-member faculty in the areas of curriculum development and best education practices. As Head, she also managed operating and fiscal budgets in addition to managing admission and placement of students.
Born and raised in Prince George’s County, Cullen often visited the Accokeek area to swim and canoe on the river with her family and is a strong advocate for AFF’s mission and the community it serves. “I believe that all individuals, particularly children, should be part of a beautiful environment for learning. Being outdoors is critical to their development and to the future not only of our region and country but of the world,” said Cullen. “Getting children out of the classroom to really experience hands-on learning is essential for them to connect concepts taught in the classroom with their real-world surroundings.”
In her new role, Cullen will oversee finances, staff operations and strategic priorities of the organization, and partner with AFF’s Board of Directors on organizational planning. “I’m energized to blend my education background with the operational demands of an established nonprofit,” said Cullen. “Our greatest opportunities to build educational and stewardship successes, at the moment, lie within the business side of the Foundation, and I’m excited to focus there, behind the scenes of our impactful programming.”
Cullen is eager to begin cultivating relationships with the community beginning with our upcoming Fall Nature Series, which includes six adventures on our 330-acre riverfront working farm led by our environmental educators. Culminating the series lineup is our inaugural Fall Farm Day at Hard Bargain Farm (HBF) on Saturday, October 26 from 11 AM – 4 PM. Families are invited to enjoy our picturesque views and participate in activities unique to HBF such as wetland explorations, hayrides, garden and farmyard tours and much more.
Day program opportunities at HBF have also been revamped for the 2019-2020 school year. “Scientific skills and concepts that are taught in the classroom are brought to life in a variety of habitats and agricultural contexts here at HBF,” said Emily Leedy, AFF Director of Programs. “Until recently, we offered a one size fits all program. This year, we’ve carefully realigned our programs to what teachers need to teach to meet the Next Generation Science Standards. Our programs have also been broken into different grade bands to ensure each grade level is receiving the appropriate experience.”
Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center’s education program is designed to promote understanding and stewardship of the natural resources in the Potomac River watershed and the legacy of farming in southern Maryland. Courses at HBF immerse students in various field studies involving fun and innovative hands-on activities and field investigations designed to engage all learning styles. Depending on the chosen program, students might experience interactions with HBF farm animals, fish dissection, or dip netting in the Potomac River.
“We provide a unique hands-on experience surrounded by the beautiful outdoors,” said Heather Zdobysz, Education Programs Manager. “Not all classrooms have four walls. Most of the students we work with have never been on a farm or hiking in the woods before. Rewarding moments for us as educators are watching students try something that is not familiar to them and then understand the connection our field studies have to what they are learning from their teacher.”
Chartered in the state of Maryland in 1954, the Alice Ferguson Foundation has been providing environmental education programs on the Potomac for more than 60 years. As home to the only Certified Living Building in the state, the longest freshwater Living Shoreline in the nation, and working farm along the scenic Piscataway Park, AFF takes advantage of its surroundings to connect people to the environment, sustainable agricultural practices and the cultural heritage of their local watershed.
To learn more about the education programs at HBF visit www.fergusonfoundation.org/hard-bargain-farm or to register for our Fall Nature Series events visit AFF’s Eventbrite page.