The Aquatic Resources Education Center (AREC) is a multi-use environmental education and aquaculture center located in Anacostia Park in southeast Washington, DC. One of three facilities of its kind in the Northeast Region of the United States, DOEE opened the AREC in collaboration with the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in 2005. The AREC presents a unique opportunity for visitors to experience close encounters with more than 40 species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates that can be found in the rivers, streams, and wetlands of the District as well as in the Chesapeake Bay. DOEE Fish and Wildlife Biologists provide free environmental education programs and facility tours to students and the general public on aquatic habitats, species conservation, and water resources.
Schedule a Field Trip
There is something for everyone! Pre-K-12 schools, learning centers, and home school groups can register for hands-on, standards-aligned environmental education lessons that focus on the aquatic resources and wildlife found in the District. Guided AREC tours are available for summer camps and groups of college students, senior centers, and other community members. Read on to see what AREC offerings fit best for your group.
Register online and select from one of the options below:
Classroom Program and Tour: Students explore an array of topics in aquatic resources and watershed science 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, DC Science Standards Matrix, and AREC Lesson Themes for full lesson descriptions, timing, topics, and standards correlations to inform your selection (click links or download pdfs below). Programs are generally scheduled to begin at 10:00 am or 1:00 pm. Maximum of 40 students per time slot. Register online for a program.
River Explorers Boat Tour: Sign your students up for an and Aquatic Resources Lesson at the AREC! Students discover the Anacostia River through a facility tour and investigation activity 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. Each boat tour can accommodate 20 passengers at one time; multiple tours available upon request. This program is dependent upon group size and requires a 2-3 hour time commitment; scheduling is based on partner organization availability. Register online for a program.
Summer Camp Program: Summer camp sessions are 60 minute-themed experiences offered June through August annually. Students participate in a tour of the AREC paired with an activity booklet covering a variety of aquatic animal and conservation topics. Sessions are booked Monday through Friday from 10:00 am to 11:00 am, 11:00 am to 12:00 pm, or 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm. Maximum of 25 students per time slot. Register online for a program.
Guided Tour: Register your community group* for a private tour of the AREC’s three rooms of aquatic animal exhibits led by a DOEE Fish & Wildlife Biologist. Tours can be 30 to 60 minutes in duration and are provided Monday through Friday from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. Register online for a program.
*Group size of 10-25 required.
Getting to the AREC:
Please refer to the information at the bottom of this page for the Anacostia Park address and take note of the location of the building in proximity to the park entrances and public transportation stops when planning a trip.
A limited amount of transportation support is available for District of Columbia schools; please include this in your program request if needed and we will notify you of availability and make arrangements on your behalf.
Attend a Family Program
Family Discovery Days
Join staff biologists for rotating themed programs that are fun for the whole family! Family Discovery Days are held in conjunction with select days off for DC Public Schools students. The program line up for the 2019-2020 school year includes:
- Tuesday, January 28, 2020 from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm: Winter Wonders
Discover what winter is like underwater and how aquatic animals make it through this snowy season!
- Friday, February 20, 2020 from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm: Aquatic Amore
Discover the interesting courtship behaviors that aquatic animals use to find love!
- Friday, March 20, 2019 from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm: Frog Fun
Discover fascinating facts about frogs – and toads, too!
Get Hooked through Angler Education & Clinics
DOEE offers resources for beginning anglers to get hooked! Upcoming opportunities include:
- Fishing Discovery Day: Save the date to spend Spring Break learning a new sport! Come to the AREC on April 15 to learn the ins-and-outs of angling without getting your hands dirty. Stay tuned for more information!
- The Family and Youth Casting Call (FYCC) is a free annual event where DOEE provides fishing instruction, supplies bait and equipment, and organizes volunteer fishing instructors to help participants learn the basics of fishing in a fun, supportive setting. Head to the Family & Youth Casting Call page to learn more.
- Get started on your own by exploring the resources on DOEE’s Learn to Fish! page and read up on Fishing in the District.
Grow with 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.
Join the DOEE FrogWatch Citizen Science Program
The DOEE FrogWatch chapter invites volunteer citizen scientists to help collect data on calling frogs and toads and their supporting aquatic habitats. Volunteer training classes are offered annually and data are collected at night during the spring through summer. Visit the DOEE FrogWatch page to learn how you can contribute to amphibian conservation in your community!
Come for a 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 three rooms of aquatic animal exhibits and the interactive Discovery Room displays on their own. Groups of 10 or more must register in advance.
Aquatic Resources Education Center Location & Hours
1900 Anacostia Drive SE
Washington, DC 20020
Inside Anacostia Park, Section E
(next to Skating Pavilion) (see map)
Phone: (202) 535-2276
Email [email protected]
Public Hours: Monday—Friday 10:00 am—2:00 pm
Other hours (including weekends) by appointment only. The AREC is closed on Federal Holidays.