The Aquatic Resources Education Center (AREC) is a multi-use environmental 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. 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. 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.
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.
Field trip 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 to inform your selection (see pdfs below). Maximum of 40 students per time slot. Register online for a program.
- River Explorers: Sign your students up for an and Aquatic Resources Lesson at the AREC! Students discover the Anacostia River through a classroom lesson and facility tour 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. .
- : 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. .
Attend a Family Program
Family Discovery Days
Join staff biologists for rotating themed programs that are fun for the whole family! Events are free, but please register online with head count and ages. Participation is limited to 40 attendees.
- Friday, February 16th from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm: Aquatic Amore
Discover the interesting courtship behaviors that aquatic animals use to find love!
- Friday, April 6th from 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
Discover the wild world of wetlands along the Anacostia River!
NOTE: This program begins at 10:00 am and features an AREC tour, themed activities, and an optional one hour motorized boat ride departing and returning from the Anacostia River Boat Dock adjacent to the AREC. Groups will rotate between the AREC and the boat and rotations are arranged first come, first served upon check-in at 10:00 am at the AREC. The boat is limited to 20 participants per rotation and space on the boat is not guaranteed.
- Friday, February 16th from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm: Aquatic Amore
DOEE offers resources for beginning anglers to get hooked! Plan some quality time fishing with the family through one of these opportunities:
- 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. View the event page to learn more.
- Loaner equipment is available for fishing along the Anacostia River, adjacent to the AREC, in the north end of Anacostia Park. Spin cast rods and basic tackle equipment may be reserved in advance on weekdays from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm during April through October. Participants must bring their own bait and anglers aged 16-64 must show their fishing license upon arrival. A maximum of 10 rods may be signed out by one family group. Email [email protected] to sign up for a date/time and to request equipment.
- Get started on your own by exploring the resources on DOEE’s Learn to Fish! page.
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.
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 aquarium on their own with an activity booklet or scavenger hunt.
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.