Friday, March 25, 2016

McKinley Tech Clenches 2016 4-H LifeSmarts Competition

by Carilyne Vance

The 2016 District of Columbia LifeSmarts competition was held on Friday, March 11, 2016 at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law. LifeSmarts, established in 1994, is a program of the National Consumers League, the nation’s pioneering consumer organization. LifeSmarts, the ultimate consumer challenge, is an educational opportunity for students in 6th-12th grade. This competition prepares students to enter the real world as smart adult consumers. Participants focus on five key topic areas: consumer rights and responsibilities, the environment, health and safety, personal finance, and technology.

This year’s competition featured five teams from McKinley Technical High School and the Cesar Chavez Educational Center.  Hosted by the National Consumers League’s Seth Woods and including guest judges James Kahler of the National 4-H Council and the National Consumers League Executive Director Sally Greenberg, the competition was an exciting event with a McKinley Technical High School team emerging victorious.  The team is now headed to the National LifeSmarts Championship, April 9-12, 2016, in Denver, Colorado.  The team has set-up a GoFundMe page in order to pay for the trip.  Please visit to contribute. 

For more information, contact Mrs. Rebecca Bankhead at or (202) 274-7081. Visit to learn more about the District’s 4-H program. For additional resources on bullying, visit

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Spring Sustainable Urban Agriculture Certificate Course Begins March 28!

In 2008, for the first time in recorded history, the world's population became primarily urban. Some urban areas are growing at twice the rate of rural areas. While the District of Columbia is not growing as rapidly, its population continues to increase. This trend is expected to continue in the foreseeable future. The College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) is uniquely positioned as a world-leader in the urban agriculture movement, through its research, academic, and outreach programs. In response, it launched a non-credit bearing certificate program in sustainable urban agriculture in fall 2014. Register here!

Program Length/Structure: Each Certificate Program consists of 4 classes. Classes usually meet twice per week, in the evenings, or once on the weekend. A certificate of completion will be issued at the successful completion of each class.

Cost: To receive a certificate in Sustainable Urban Agriculture, participants will pay a one-time fee of $200. If a participant wishes to take an individual class, the cost is $60 per class. Payment will be made at the time of the first class, by check or money order, made payable to the "University of the District of Columbia."

Prerequisite required to receive certificate of completion:
  • Principles of Sustainable Agriculture 
    • March 28 &30, 2016, 6:00 -9:00 p.m., Van Ness Campus
Option 1:   Urban Agriculture Techniques
  • Urban Bio-intensive Farming 
    • April 2, 2016, 9:00 a.m. -4:00 p.m., Firebird Farm, Beltsville, MD
  • High Efficiency Production Methods  for Urban Growers          
    • April 16, 2016, 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., Firebird Farm, Beltsville, MD
  • Urban Agriculture: Innovations           
    • April 30, 2016, 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., Firebird Farm, Beltsville, MD

Option 2:   Business Principles in Urban Agriculture                 
  • Business Principles of Sustainable Agriculture                                               
    • April 4 and 6, 2016, 6:00 -9:00 p.m., Van Ness Campus
  • Non-Profit Management of Community Food Programs                           
    • April 12 and 14, 2016, 6:00 p.m. -9:00 p.m.,Van Ness Campus
  • Urban Agriculture Site Planning and Design                                                    
    • April 19 and 21, 2016, 6:00 -9:00 p.m., Van Ness Campus
Special Course:  
  • Aquaponics                      
    • May 7, 2016, 9:00 a.m. -3:00 p.m., Firebird Farm, Beltsville, MD

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Washington Post Garden Editor Q&A with DC Master Gardeners

Adrian Higgins with Sandy Farber Bandier
On March 8,2016, Washington Post Garden Editor Adrian Higgins spent an evening with current and former master gardener trainees in an evening lecture at the David A. Clarke School of Law, arranged by DC Master Gardener Coordinator Sandra Farber Bandier. We've been fortunate to have the esteemed writer, who has been with the Post for 22 years, visit our research farm in Beltsville, Maryland, as well as the green roof on our Van Ness campus. 

"We live in two worlds - the screen world and the physical world; and we've learned to straddle both of them," said Mr. Higgins in his opening. "Gardening to me is not a hobby or a past time; it's an essential element of being a human being. Life is connected to nature."

Not only is gardening about creating a beautiful environment, it's the union of horticulture and ecology. As for the changing "landscape" of garden design, Mr. Higgins explains,"We're moving much more to an ecological design. We're seeing this in dealing with our stormwater run-off and heat island effect."

Before he took audience questions, he shared his five gardening secrets:
  1. Gardening isn't only just for spring.
  2. Don't rely on instant gratification (i.e. take shortcuts).
  3. Embrace mistakes and learn from them.
  4. Build the soil.
  5. Learn from others.
Continue reading for Mr. Higgins' response to audience questions. 

Arbor Day Fest is April 29!

Arbor Day Fest
National Arbor Day Celebration
      Celebrating Urban Sustainability and Greening in the Region
April 29th, 2016
10:00 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
At the U.S National Arboretum

The Washington Youth Garden is excited to welcome you to our 1st Annual Arbor Day Fest on April 29, 2016, from 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the U.S. National Arboretum.  Join us for a day of social, educational, and cultural programming that celebrates environmental awareness and stewardship!

Anacostia Watershed Society
Arbor Day Foundation
Art Soiree  
City Blossoms
DC Department of Health SNAP ED Program
DC Department of Energy and Environment
DC Greens
Fairtrade America
George Washington University
George Mason University
Good Food Markets
Oyé Palaver Hut
University of the District of Columbia - CAUSES
University of Maryland, Program for Society and the Environment
11th Street Bridge Park, a project of Building Bridges Across the River at THEARC
Washington Performing Arts' Mars Urban Arts Initiative
Washington Parks and People
Featured Activites and Entertainment :
·       Panels on environmental, health, and nutrition topics
·       Healthy cooking demonstrations
·       Musical performances
·       Farmers Olympics
·       Yoga and movement sessions

The Washington Youth Garden’s 45th Year Anniversary: This is the first event in a year-long celebration commemorating the Washington Youth Garden's 45 years of making school gardens and young minds grow!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

2016 NCR Water Resources Symposium Agenda

Friday, April 8, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
University of the District of Columbia
David A. Clarke School of Law
4340 Connecticut Ave., NW, Washington, DC

This year's symposium, Rethinking the Value of Water: Innovations in Research, Technology, Policy, and Management, will bring together experts from governmental agencies, academia, the private sector, and non-profits to present and discuss innovations in water research, technology, policy, and management to respect and reflect the true value of water. The program will include a keynote address, panelists, and breakout sessions featuring oral and poster presentations. Speakers include:
  • G. Tracy Mehan, III: Executive Director for Government Affairs, American Water Works Association (Keynote)
  • Radhika Fox: CEO, US Water Alliance
  • Kimberly Jones: Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Howard University
  • Saul Kinter, Innovation Program Manager, DC Water
  • Eugene Stakhiv: Associate Research Scientist at the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering, Johns Hopkins University and Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Water Resources, USACE
  • Thomas Grizzard: Founding Director of the Occoquan Watershed Monitoring Laboratory and Professor Emeritus of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Virginia Tech
  • Wilbert Thomas: Senior Technical Consultant, Michael Baker International

Please keep reading to review the agenda.

CAUSES and social media

In addition to the CAUSES page, Firebird Farm (formerly known as the Muirkirk Agricultural Experiment Station) now has its own Facebook page, so like us at!

And that's not all. we are now on Instagram! If you use the platform, be sure to visit to follow @udc_causes:

Finally, did you know that we are on Flickr and have photos galore? Check out some of our albums at!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

CAUSES TV: DC Master Gardener Program

On this edition of CAUSES TV, Sandra Farber Bandier joins Dean Sabine O'Hara to discuss the DC Master Gardener program. The USDA Master Gardener program is a volunteer program affiliated with landgrant universities all over the United States. As your local landgrant university, we are proud of our network of master gardeners here in the District of Columbia. Farber Bandier is the DC Master Gardener coordinator and green roof manager. The episode was taped last summer on the UDC green roof located on our Van Ness campus. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Free Ethnic Crops Workshop March 19

We are offering an ethnic crops workshop at Firebird Farm on Saturday, March 19, in conjunction with the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE). It's free with an RSVP, and you will get to sample some delicious entrees using crops grown at the farm! RSVP HERE

Sunday, March 6, 2016

We're soliciting Urban ag and Sustainability proposals

CAUSES is requesting multidisciplinary proposals that use Urban Agriculture and Urban
Sustainability as a tool to advance at least one of the NIFA programs and the Sustainable DC goals. Proposals that focus on any dimension of Urban Agriculture and Urban Sustainability are welcome, such as architecture, biology and ecology, economics, engineering, health/nutrition, social/community, and technology. Proposals that focus on 1) maximizing yield and nutrient density in urban spaces and 2) elucidating the positive health effects of fresh, local foods on residents of Washington, DC are particularly welcome. The Principal Investigator must be a member of the program staff or faculty of UDC and must include at least one co-PI from CAUSES. 

Partnerships and collaborations across UDC, with other DC Consortium Universities, as well as with DC public, private, and non-profit sector organizations are encouraged. Proposals that offer student mentorship and training opportunities or use the UDC research farm are also encouraged. Faculty members can use funds to buy the release time necessary to fulfill the demands of the proposed work. Click here for more details.

UDC Architecture Chair, Student Win NOMA Awards

The Washington, DC Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (DCNOMA) hosted the 8th Annual Lankford-Giles-Vaughn (LGV) Minority Architect Awards on February 25, 2016, at the University of the District of Columbia’s (UDC) new Student Center. With a theme of "Celebrating the Journey" the event honored five individuals in the fields of architecture, development, scholastic excellence, architectural education, and community service. Dr. Susan Kliman, chairperson, UDC Department of Architecture and Urban Sustainability, and UDC student Karl Griffin were among the award recipients. Philip Freelon, FAIA, NOMA, Director of Design with Perkins Will and Architect of Record for the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture, delivered the keynote address.

Named for three African-American architects who worked in the city in the early 1900’s and helped to shape the District of Columbia through their designs, the awards recognize collective works and not a particular design or project. UDC architecture student, Karl Griffin, was named Student of the Year, while Dr. Susan Kliman received the Barbara G. Laurie Educator of the Year Award. 

“I am very humbled to have been honored by the DC Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architect as the 2016 Barbara G. Laurie Professor of Architecture of the Year," said Dr. Kliman. "What an honor to be recognized for simply doing a job that I love.”