The Aquatic Resources Education Center (AREC) is a multi-use education and aquaculture center located in Anacostia Park in southeast Washington, DC. In collaboration with the National Park Service and the Fish & Wildlife Service, the Department of Energy & Environment opened the AREC in 2005. It is one of three facilities of its kind in the Northeast Region of the United States. DOEE Fish and Wildlife Biologists provide free environmental education programs and facility tours to students and the general public on aquatic environments and water resources. The AREC presents a unique opportunity for visitors to experience close encounters with more than 40 species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, invertebrates, and aquatic plants that can be found in the rivers, streams, and wetlands of the District as well as in the Chesapeake Bay.
Schedule a Field Trip!
Pre-K-12 schools, learning centers, and community groups can register for hands-on field or classroom environmental education lessons that focus on the aquatic resources and wildlife found in the District.
Program options include:
Lessons on Aquatic Resources and Watershed Science: Students explore an array of topics such as fish biology, amphibian and reptile ecology, benthic macroinvertebrates as water quality indicators, pollution prevention, ecological relationships, invasive species impacts, environmental stewardship, and fisheries and wildlife career introductions. AREC lessons were developed using the Next Generation Science Standards, align to DC Science Standards, and support the District’s Environmental Literacy Program. View the AREC Education Programs Summary and DC Science Standards Matrix for full descriptions and standards correlations (see pdfs below). Register online for a program.
- : Join staff biologists monthly for free nature-based stories, crafts, and songs for 2-5 year olds and their parents/guardians! Email to sign up for:
- May 11th, 10:00 – 11:00 AM: Fun with Fishes
- September 7th, 10:00 – 11:00 AM: Turtle Time
- October 5th, 10:00 – 11:00 AM: Aquatic Bird Adventures
- November 2nd, 10:00 – 11:00 AM: Marvelous Mammals
- December 7th, 10:00 – 11:00 AM: The Power of Plants
- River Explorers: Sign your students up for an at the AREC! Students discover the Anacostia River through a lesson at the AREC in conjunction with a boat trip on the Anacostia River to learn the history of this waterway and the wildlife that live in and around the river. This program requires a 3 hour time commitment. .
- : Participate in a clinic that provides instruction on selecting equipment and bait, casting, and locating the best fishing spots in the District followed by hands-on experience angling along the shore of the Anacostia River. Fishing Clinics are scheduled April through October (weather permitting) for small groups of 15 participants or fewer and require a 3 hour time commitment. One adult chaperone is required per 5 students aged 3 grade and up; chaperones will learn alongside students and provide active assistance with lesson components, safety, and supervision. .
- : Summer camp sessions are 90 minute-themed experiences offered June through August annually. Students participate in a 30-45 minute tour of the AREC followed by a mini-lesson and hands-on activity or art project. Sessions are booked Monday through Friday from 10 AM-11:30 AM or 1:00-2:30 PM. .
Come and Visit!
Walk in visitors are welcome at the AREC Monday through Friday between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM. Visitors can request a tour (staff availability dependent) or explore the aquarium on their own with an activity booklet or scavenger hunt. Join us for the “Feeding Frenzy” every Friday starting at 10:00 AM to see our fish, turtles, and amphibians feast during a feeding demonstration. The AREC is closed on weekends and Federal Holidays.
Educator Professional Development Workshops
Educator Professional Development Workshops are available to informal and formal instructors of pre-K through High School students. Workshop participants receive free curriculum and activity guides, learn educational methodologies for teaching about water resources, aquatic ecology, and nature-based learning, and are introduced to supplemental resources. Visit the Environmental Education Workshops and Training page to learn more and register for an upcoming opportunity.
Aquatic Resources Education Center Location
1900 Anacostia Drive SE
Washington, DC 20020
Inside Anacostia Park, Section E
(next to Skating Pavilion) (see map)
Phone: (202) 535-2276
Public Hours: Monday—Friday 10am—2pm
Other hours (including weekends) by appointment only. The AREC is closed on Federal Holidays.