May 22, 2017

The Signature Program Class of 2017 gathered for Environmental Sustainability Day, at Nationals Stadium. The final program day of the year featured a combination of educational presentations on sustainability and urban planning in Greater Washington and a tour of the Anacostia River. 

Nationals Stadium, located in the developing Southwest quadrant of D.C., provided the perfect setting for a discussion on how city infrastructure and the environment can be seamlessly joined for the benefit of all. Before kicking off in earnest with our day of learning, we were welcomed with a few words from our gracious event sponsor and host, Norfolk Southern Corporation, regarding its efforts to reduce the environmental footprint in its transportation operation.

Jim Foster, President of Anacostia Watershed Society, then provided members with an informative discussion on water quality in the region, and highlighted AWS’s efforts to make the Anacostia River fishable and swimmable by 2025. Following Jim's remarks, members set sail for an Anacostia River boat tour, guided by AWS experts. The 8-mile tour, exploring various topics related to how the region interacts with the river, served as a reminder that it takes participation and cooperation from all of us to preserve and protect wetlands across our region.

"The most important thing we can do right now is reconnect people to the river" – Jim Foster, Anacostia Watershed Society

Members thoroughly enjoyed the boat tour, posing questions about the future of D.C. water quality and what they can do as leaders in the region to contribute to sustainable environment for the region.

"The river boat tour was fun and meaningful. It made me genuinely care about this issue." – Marcia Brown (’17)

Following the boat tour, George Hawkins, CEO & General Manager of DC Water, spoke with the class about water infrastructure and the potential of growing cities to simultaneously promote a positive sustainability landscape.

“The most important environmental work is done at the community level, by growing communities around us in a way that exemplifies the best in us. Develop the conviction for what you do and why you do it.” – George Hawkins, DC Water

The Signature Program Class of 2018 also ruminated on various proposals for a class project, ultimately deciding to help offer middle school students across the region the opportunity to connect with leaders in the community, and create a solid foundation for their bright futures.

Rounding out the day, Lori Arguelles (‘16) of the Alice Ferguson Foundation led a session designed to elucidate the long-term impacts of the waste generated every day by families and organizations throughout the region. Presented with the stark reality of decomposition times for many presumably harmless materials, class members were challenged to reconsider their own waste streams by implementing the now-4 Rs: Rethink (a great addition), Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle.

Overall, it was a terrific final program day; class members left feeling inspired to take a proactive role in providing for a greener future for sustainability in Greater Washington. We look forward to wrapping up another amazing year at the Signature Program Class of 2017’s Closing Retreat at the historic Airlie Center in Warrenton, VA.

View photos from the event here.

Environmental Sustainability Day was hosted on May 18, 2017.