Position Announcement: Part-Time Museum Interpreter

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Museum Interpreter, Jessica Robinson, leads a group of second graders through the garden to teach about the history and culture of our food.

Museum Interpreter leads a group of second graders through the garden to teach about the history and culture of our food.

The Accokeek Foundation, a nonprofit educational organization involved in land stewardship, historical preservation and sustainable agriculture, seeks a Museum Interpreter to perform both scripted and unscripted live interpretation during school tours and weekend programs.

Fall season includes September – early December. Spring season includes March – May. Reduced hours during the summer.

This is a part-time position that includes most weekends and some holidays. We are looking for a team player with interests in teaching, drama, history, agriculture, and the environment. Although well-rounded candidates are preferred, candidates with an ability to engage visitors will be preferred over those with strong content knowledge.

 

Job requirements include:

  • Lively, outgoing personality and/or experience in theatre/drama
  • Ability to master interactive tours and activities; this includes memorizing and performing scripts, improvising with visitors
  • Interpersonal skills and diplomacy necessary to facilitate discussion around sensitive topics
  • Willing and able to work outside in various weather conditions
  • Willing to wear various costumes depending on program
  • Works well in a sometimes unpredictable environment where last minute changes may be necessary
  • Able to lift 50 pounds
  • Light gardening may be required when not interacting with visitors (we train)
  • Comfortable around large and small animals
  • Excellent communication skills and a willingness to learn
  • Experience working with children
  • Applicant will be required to complete a background check prior to employment

Highly desired qualities include:

  • Personal commitment to sustainable agriculture and environmental stewardship (earth-friendly eating and living)
  • Strong interest in social sciences, Maryland history, food systems, nature
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Prior experience as an actor, teacher, or interpreter is a plus, but not required

To Apply: Email cover letter, resume, and headshot (if you have one) to: info@accokeek.org, with “Museum Interpreter” in the subject line.

About the Accokeek Foundation:  By blending history, ecology, economics and conservation, the Accokeek Foundation strives to teach land stewardship and sustainable use of natural resources, as well as interpret the natural and cultural heritage of the Tidewater Potomac. The National Colonial Farm, the Ecosystem Farm, and other Foundation activities exemplify the agricultural, preservation and conservation goals that are at the core of the Foundation’s mission and serve as an outdoor classroom to further the educational programs that are key to its success. In partnership with the National Park Service, the Accokeek Foundation stewards a 200-acre portion of Piscataway Park and both organizations seek to preserve the view directly across the Potomac River from Mount Vernon.

The Accokeek Foundation conducts background checks in order to insure the safety and well-being of the organization’s staff and visitors. This position is open until filled. The Accokeek Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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Now Hiring: Agriculture Education Manager

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The Accokeek Foundation is engaged in a site-wide institutional initiative to create a unified approach to education, interpretation, and visitor engagement. Agriculture is at the heart of this effort, and the Agriculture Education Manager will be a key player in its success.

The Agriculture Education Manager, in close collaboration with the Ecosystem Farm Manager and other staff, will be responsible for educating youth and other members of the community around organic vegetable production at the Ecosystem Farm, as well as providing support for programs centered on the heritage breed livestock, heirloom vegetables, and the historical and cultural connections to food that are a part of interpretation at the National Colonial Farm and the Museum Garden. Target audiences will include both adults and youth from the Capital region, with particular focus on Prince George’s County and Southern Maryland. Programs will include curriculum-based field trips, internships, themed tours, and pre-arranged workdays. Other activities may include cooking demonstrations, outreach to schools, and events that further the conversation on sustainability and food.

Qualifications

We are seeking a candidate with:

  • a bachelor’s degree (master’s preferred) in education, biology, nutrition, or a related field.
  • significant experience in farm/garden-based learning and community engagement.
  • experience serving low-income, diverse populations is a plus.
  • experience designing engaging and meaningful learning activities that utilize best practices in learner-centered education.
  • experience in curriculum development, evaluation, reporting, and management.
  • demonstrated success in program and project coordination.
  • excellent interpersonal skills with the ability to work with students, parents, teachers, staff, volunteers, and partners.
  • demonstrated track record of successful collaboration and community building.

Salary and Benefits: Salary upper $20’s. Excellent benefits, including health insurance.

To Apply: To apply, send a resume and cover letter describing how your experience, skills, and interests make you uniquely qualified for this position to: info@accokeek.org. Please include a one or two two-page writing sample, preferably an agriculture-related lesson plan or learning activity. For preferred consideration, apply by January 8, 2014.

About the Accokeek Foundation

The Accokeek Foundation is a non-profit, educational organization whose mission is to connect people to history, agriculture, and nature through innovative educational programs and engaging visitor experiences. Founded over fifty years ago to “preserve the view” from George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the Foundation was one of the first land trusts, blazing new trails in preservation through a public/private partnership that led to the creation of Piscataway Park, a nearly 5000-acre national park. Through a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service, the Foundation cares for two hundred acres of the park, while fulfilling its mission. This working landscape includes the National Colonial Farm (demonstrates life of a tobacco planter on the eve of the American Revolution) the Ecosystem Farm (demonstrates sustainable agriculture on an 8-acre organic vegetable farm), heritage breed livestock, nature trails, gardens, a fishing pier, and boat dock (with kayak launch). In addition, this is the sacred homeland of the Piscataway people, and its significance as an indigenous cultural landscape makes it a key site on several national trails.

The Accokeek Foundation conducts background checks in order to insure the safety and well-being of the organization’s staff and visitors. This position is open until filled. The Accokeek Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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Now Hiring: Ecosystem Farm Manager

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The Accokeek Foundation created the Robert Ware Straus Ecosystem Farm twenty years ago to demonstrate sustainable agricultural practices at this solar-powered certified organic vegetable farm on eight-acres within the boundaries of the park.

In order to widen its impact, the Ecosystem Farm is transitioning from a production-oriented farmer training model to a community-centered program that uses hands-on experiential learning to engage students and the general public in sustainable agriculture. This is part of a site-wide institutional initiative to create a unified approach to education, interpretation, and visitor engagement, bringing together previously discrete functions into a coherent whole that promotes deep connections to this landscape on the Potomac River.

The Ecosystem Farm Manager will coordinate all aspects of farm operations, including:

Production and Marketing

  • Develop and execute a diversified vegetable production plan that facilitates the involvement of students, youth, volunteers, and the general public in farm tasks with practices that are in accordance with the National Organic Program standards.
  • Oversee marketing of farm produce at an On-Farm Market, and through other mechanisms appropriate to program goals (eg. limited CSA, partners, wholesale).
  • Design and implement a plan for saving and distributing heirloom seeds.

Program Development and Delivery

  • Assist in development of lesson plans, tours, and other programs that utilize the farm and its produce.
  • Work with National Colonial Farm and other staff to incorporate heirloom vegetable production and use in education and visitor experience.
  • Lead tours for students and general public, as well as specialized audiences.

Infrastructure – Perform care and maintenance of:

  • Vehicles and equipment, including Kubota and Case International Tractors, tractor implements, farm truck, small machines, tools, etc.
  • Solar-powered systems, including main system and river pump irrigation system.
  • Outbuildings and perimeter fence.
  • 2 High Tunnels and several hoop houses.

Recordkeeping

  • Maintain farm’s organic certification.
  • Maintain records of farm equipment, systems, planning documents, and tracking of budget and expenses.
  • Provide requested reports on farm activities.

Personnel and Volunteers

  • Hire employees to assist with farm work as needed.
  • Develop volunteer position descriptions and schedules.
  • Organize scheduled volunteer workdays.

Qualifications: This position requires two or more seasons managing an organic vegetable operation, preferably within an educational model. The ideal candidate should have excellent people skills, be comfortable working with large groups or alone, and be passionate about healthy farms, food, and community. Prior experience with environmental or agricultural education is also desired, and teaching experience is a plus. This position requires the ability to perform hard physical labor on a regular basis.

Salary and Benefits: Salary upper $20’s. Excellent benefits, including health insurance.

To Apply: To apply, send a resume and cover letter describing how your experience, skills, and interests make you uniquely qualified for this position to:  info@accokeek.org. Please include a one or two two-page writing sample from a project you have done that has some connection to this position.

About the Accokeek Foundation

The Accokeek Foundation is a non-profit, educational organization whose mission is to connect people to history, agriculture, and nature through innovative educational programs and engaging visitor experiences. Founded over fifty years ago to “preserve the view” from George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the Foundation was one of the first land trusts, blazing new trails in preservation through a public/private partnership that led to the creation of Piscataway Park, a nearly 5000-acre national park. Through a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service, the Foundation cares for two hundred acres of the park, while fulfilling its mission. This working landscape includes the National Colonial Farm (demonstrates life of a tobacco planter on the eve of the American Revolution) the Ecosystem Farm (demonstrates sustainable agriculture on an 8-acre organic vegetable farm), heritage breed livestock, nature trails, gardens, a fishing pier, and boat dock (with kayak launch). In addition, this is the sacred homeland of the Piscataway people, and its significance as an indigenous cultural landscape makes it a key site on several national trails.

The Accokeek Foundation conducts background checks in order to insure the safety and well-being of the organization’s staff and visitors. This position is open until filled. The Accokeek Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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Enlightening Consumers

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by Rebecca Cecere Seward

greenhouses on site - smallYou are all enlightened eaters. You may not realize this, or consider the contribution you make as CSA members anything earth-shattering, but you are one of the comparatively few Americans supporting local organic agriculture. According to the Organic Consumers’ Association, only two percent of the food industry is organic, and, of that, small organic farms make up a much smaller percentage. While the trend is increasing: organic food is the fastest growing segment of the food industry according the OCA, organic eaters are in the minority.

Training farmers to fill this increasing demand is at the core of the current mission of the Ecosystem Farm, but over the last year we have been steadily increasing the consumer education element of our mission. Whether visitors come to the on-farm market, volunteer with us for one of our volunteer days, or come to us as schoolchildren for a tour, we have been spreading the good word about organic farming and eating. Increasing this audience is on the menu for next year’s programs around the Ecosystem Farm, with a targeted plan in the works currently, and below are some of the reasons why…

Food is a great unifier. We all have memories, stories, emotions around food. And yet how many times do we eat junk food or food low in nutrients because we need to “fill up.” As if we are putting gasoline in our engines! Food is so much more than something to just shovel in, and if we continue to demonstrate the “behind the scenes” value of food through growing vegetables, maybe we can show people the work and intention at the heart of good food.

Getting dirty is good for us. It seems that the American legacy is to get further and further from outdoor work. I personally am a bit in awe of my friends who can work on theSasha and cart - small computer all day, as I get antsy in an office for too long. Balancing our indoor and outdoor lives can be easily done with a good day on the farm, volunteering to get dirty doing farmwork! Being in a place through its seasonal changes increases our connection to that place, which is good for our hearts.

Increasing people’s awareness and familiarity of organic food creates a market for future farmers. While we have done some good and important work towards educating our future sustainable growers, by continuing to demonstrate on the farm we can provide them with a customer base!

 

Click here for more Field Notes

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For Immediate Release: Hundreds of Area Students Impacted by Federal Shutdown and Closure of National Parks

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During the federal government shutdown, environmental education programs on national park land has been cancelled.

During the federal government shutdown, environmental education programs on national park land has been cancelled.

 

Accokeek, MD—The federal government shutdown and park closures have resulted in the cancellation or alteration of several local environmental education programs, impacting hundreds of students who normally visit Piscataway Park that spans 5,000 acres across southern Prince George’s and Charles County. Through cooperative agreements with the National Park Service, two local non-profit organizations use the park’s land to further their missions of providing outdoor educational experiences to students and the public about history, agriculture, and the environment. The Accokeek Foundation’s entire campus, used for history education and agricultural training, is located within the boundaries of Piscataway Park, while the Alice Ferguson Foundation depends on access to the Potomac River through the park for its Hard Bargain Farm Education Center environmental education programs as well as access to other area national parks for its Bridging the Watershed program.

tricia interpreter in kitchen (small)The Accokeek Foundation leads hands-on school tours at the National Colonial Farm and Piscataway Park, reaching over 3,000 youth annually. October is the beginning of the fall tour season, and many of the scheduled tours have been cancelled due to the shutdown, disappointing teachers and students who look forward to these outdoor experiences each year. Jeannette Wheeler, a Prince George’s County 6th grade educator whose tour is scheduled for October 17, is hoping that “the shutdown ends soon so [she] can take students on their field trip.” Another teacher whose tour was cancelled due to the shutdown’s closure of national parks commented, “We will readily reschedule if we cannot come next week, as we always love our trips to Accokeek and look forward to [the park’s] reopening.” The education program has already been impacted by funding cuts to county public schools, limiting availability of funds for transportation. “The Accokeek Foundation has been seeking creative ways to help schools continue to bring students for farm tours,” said Brittany Barnes, Development Manager for the Accokeek Foundation who has worked with the National Park Foundation to provide transportation grants last year to Prince George’s County schools. “The government shutdown greatly hinders our ability to be able to deliver grant commitments for education without access to the parks,” Barnes stated.

The Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Hard Bargain Farm Environmental Center uses experiential learning techniques to teach environmental studies to nearly 5,000 elementary school students annually on their 330-acre working farm on the banks of the Potomac River. More than a third of the students served by the program are at-risk youth from the region’s underserved communities in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. “For most of our students this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience a working farm and to have such a personal experience with nature,” said Lori Arguelles, Executive Director of the Alice Ferguson Foundation. The Foundation donated the land to Piscataway Park when the park was created in the 1960s and a large portion of students’ field studies are spent in the park along the Potomac River shoreline. However, due to the closure of the National Parks, the 91 students who visited this past week and the 142 students expected next week are missing out on one of the pinnacle experiences of their time at HBF. “Though we have made every effort to preserve the educational value of these programs, the inability to utilize these lands inhibits our ability to provide the outdoor field study experience teachers and students have planned for,” explained Arguelles.

In addition to Hard Bargain Farm, Bridging the Watershed (BTW) is an experience-based, science-driven environmental education program of the Alice Ferguson Foundation conducted in partnership with the National Park Service and regional school systems to promote student academic achievement, personal connections with the natural world, lifelong civic engagement, and environmental stewardship. BTW is now greatly affected by the inability to foster student science in national parks.

Thus far nearly 365 high school and middle school students in area school systems will be unable to conduct educational science investigations in national parks. Teachers have spent many hours in instructional preparation and, in some circumstances, securing significant funds, usually around $600 for student transportation to a national park. “We hope this congressional situation is resolved quickly, so students can learn and experience in what historian Wallace Stegner called ‘America’s Best Idea’,” said Keith Roumfort, Bridging the Watershed Program Manager.

Produce from the Accokeek Foundation's Ecosystem Farm is being distributed at an off-site location during the shutdown of national park land.

Produce from the Accokeek Foundation’s Ecosystem Farm is being distributed at an off-site location during the shutdown of national park land.

The Accokeek Foundation also operates a certified organic farm that was created as a model to teach sustainable agriculture to aspiring farmers. The Ecosystem Farm at Piscataway Park has been the center of a beginning farmer training program for over 20 years. “Because the land we use for education is federal property, we are unable to carry out any of those public services that we typically provide for the community such as the On Farm Market and tours of the Ecosystem Farm,” stated Lisa Hayes, President and CEO of the Accokeek Foundation. While public access to the visitor facilities for recreation and programming has been closed, essential personnel are able to report to the site and take care of the park’s resources including the livestock, farm crops, and site and building security. “Essential personnel like our farmers continue to work daily on site to ensure that the animals and crops are cared for,” Hayes continued, “and we have made arrangements so our Community Supported Agriculture program customers can continue to receive their produce at an off-site venue in the community. We are grateful to the community for its support during this challenging time, but eager to get back to business as usual once the parks reopen.”

###

About the Accokeek Foundation: The Accokeek Foundation is a non-profit, educational organization whose mission is to connect people to history, agriculture, and nature through innovative educational programs and engaging visitor experiences. Using Piscataway Park as its outdoor “campus” the Foundation’s operations include the National Colonial Farm (living heritage exhibit), the Ecosystem Farm (demonstrations in sustainable agriculture), and preservation of heritage livestock and heirloom seeds. Visit www.accokeekfoundation.org to learn more.

About the Alice Ferguson Foundation: The Alice Ferguson Foundation connects people to the natural world, sustainable agricultural practices and the cultural heritage of their local watershed through education, stewardship and advocacy. Learn more at www.fergusonfoundation.org.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Accokeek Foundation: Anjela Barnes
abarnes@accokeek.org 301-283-2113 ext 34

Alice Ferguson Foundation: Alena Rosen    
arosen@fergusonfoundation.org 202-580-9045

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Comments from a Colonial Character

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"Mrs. Bolton" asks the children, "What kinds of things to you eat?"

Tricia Hardin, as Mrs. Bolton, asks the children, “What kinds of things do you eat?”

Historical Interpretation is a challenging career path, but it can be rewarding and fun. I often portray Mrs. Bolton during our school programs at the National Colonial Farm. My appearance dressed as a Colonial character will quiet the rowdiest of school groups. I have had many enjoyable years talking to children about the 18th Century farmhouse, farm chores, tobacco fields, cooking, gardening, spinning and the idea of independence from England. The children want to know if I am real and do I really live here. In my mind, at that moment, I really am Mrs. Bolton of 1770. I can easily conjure up stories of what is happening at that particular moment on my family’s small tobacco plantation in southern Prince George’s County, in the Colony of Maryland, before the Revolutionary War.

One of my biggest mental challenges is word useage. Many colonial words or phrases are lost completely with elementary age children. So, I try to stay understandable and relatable. Once, a very bright child wanted to know why I did not have an English accent. I simply stated that I had never been to England. At a colonial conference several years ago, I learned it is better not to try and have a colonial accent. (Of course, no audio of 18th Century voices are available.) One should articulate each word clearly if you are portraying an educated, gentry character. And, the words of a middlin’ sort farm character should not ring as clear. So, my slight southern drawl works nicely for my Mrs. Bolton.

Mrs. Bolton shows, daughter, Charity how to spin wool.

Tricia shows museum theater intern how to spin wool.

The biggest physical challenge is the extreme outdoor temperatures. Visitors always want to know how one can stand all the clothing in the heat of summer. I’ve found the right material is the answer. A light linen shift will actually help you stay cool. Once wet with sweat, a breeze will instantly cool you. As for the cold, anything wool will keep you warm and dry.

What is most rewarding is to see the bright eyes of a child light up when Mrs. Bolton steps out from behind the door and the child experiences history come alive when I say,”Good day.”

–Tricia Hardin, National Colonial Farm Interpreter

You can visit Mrs. Bolton and the National Colonial Farm, and learn about Summer Days on the Farm June 25 – 27; July 16 – 18; July 30 and 31; Aug 1. 

 

 

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Colonial Homeschool Day

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Calling all homeschoolers! Join the Bolton family at the National Colonial Farm and spend the day learning about life on a small tobacco farm in the mid-18th Century. Children will learn about heritage breed farm animals, crops and gardens, and try their hands at colonial chores.

This program is an open-house style activity for home school grades K-8.

This event takes place rain or shine. Please be prepared in the event of rain or cold.

 

Please email MaryAlice Bonomo for more information.

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Expanded Ecosystem Tour Introduces 4th Graders to the Natural Landscape of Piscataway Park

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forest washington PAT tour meets edgar-SMALL

Students meet Edgar.

Last December, 4th grade students from Fort Washington Forest Elementary embarked onto the National Colonial Farm at Piscataway Park for an exploration of the site’s natural ecosystems. The Pumpkin Ash Trail Tour, which is all about observing nature–looking for it and listening to it–was added to the K-12 education program offerings last year. The students and their teacher were invited as a partner school to participate in the new tour through funding received through the National Park Foundation Ticket to Ride grant program. “Fort Washington Forest has been coming to the site for years,” says MaryAlice Bonomo, manager of education for the Accokeek Foundation. “But recently, limited funding for transportation has prevented them from taking field trips to the park. This spring, because of the grant, they are able to return for a second time this school season, to participate in another tour.” At the end of the tour, which takes students through three various ecosystem along the Pumpkin Ash Trail–forested woodland, wetland, and farm–the students were introduced to the site’s unofficial mascot, a rescued box turtle named Edgar, and each were asked to write a Haiku about their experience.

2013-01-24 Edgar Haikus Fort Washington Forest Elementary

Haikus on display at Fort Washington Forest Elementary

School tours for the Spring 2013 season are currently being booked. Contact MaryAlice at education@accokeek.org or call 301-283-2113 to schedule a unique experience for your class today!

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Foto Friday: A Year in Photos; Looking Back Over 2012…

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This Thanksgiving, we’d like to say a special thank you to our supporters for sharing in our vision of creating a space for visitors to foster the emotional connection they have to this unique land.

In 2012, the Accokeek Foundation continued to promote environmentally responsible choices through experience, education, and stewardship to ensure a sustainable future while keeping in mind the rich history and culture of Southern Maryland.

All of this could not be done without the contributions from supporters–our members, donors, and volunteers. From our family to yours, we wish you a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

 

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Foto Friday: Fall Into Outdoor Education at the National Colonial Farm

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Educator, Jessica Robinson, leads a group of second graders through the colonial kitchen garden to teach about the history and culture of our food.

Each fall, thousands of youth visit the National Colonial Farm to learn about “Colonial Farm Life,” a tour that interweaves history with agriculture and stewardship.

With programs like this, the Accokeek Foundation offers an outdoor learning experience that connects students with their environment every day. Learn how you can show your support for both education and the environment.

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