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Innovative Anacostia Urban Waters Ambassador, internship, and Kingman Rangers programs will help conservation efforts and expand job opportunities
WASHINGTON, DC, April 6, 2022 — Federal and District government officials assembled at the shores of the Anacostia River on Tuesday, April 5 to announce three new and innovative programs — the Anacostia Urban Waters Ambassador, internships for Anacostia High School students, and the Kingman Rangers program — that both advance the environmental justice and recovery goals of the Biden-Harris and Bowser Administrations and offer educational and employment opportunities to all District residents.
Dignitaries in attendance included U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tanya Trujillo and Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz, University of the District of Columbia (UDC) President Ronald Mason Jr., and District Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) Director Tommy Wells.
The officials announced Xavier Brown as the Anacostia Urban Waters Ambassador and Community to Career Academy Director, a new position created thanks to the Urban Waters Federal Partnership (UWFP). Now celebrating its 10-year anniversary, the UWFP consists of 15 federal agencies working collaboratively with local communities to restore urban waterways and surrounding lands, boost recreational opportunities, help local economies, and protect the health of Americans. The Anacostia River watershed is one of 20 locations supported by this partnership.
“Having strong partners within our communities helps build resilience to climate change and connect our communities to their urban rivers,” said Assistant Secretary Trujillo. “The Urban Waters Federal Partnership program helps promote important water and restoration issues in underserved communities.”
“The Urban Waters Federal Partnership is a terrific program that improves infrastructure and connects people with their public lands and waters,” said Assistant Secretary Estenoz. “Working together across disciplines, we can produce big gains in conservation for future generations—and that is what this partnership is all about.”
Hiring Brown to serve as the Anacostia Ambassador enables UWFP and UDC to work collaboratively in Ward 8’s Anacostia neighborhood to increase science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) career opportunities for students at Anacostia High School students. Brown will work with UDC, DC Public Schools, DOEE and UWFP to develop internship and project-based learning opportunities for those students.
“This is part of a UDC initiative to rethink how students of color and economically disadvantaged students are educated,” said UDC President Mason.
Finally, investments supported in Mayor Bowser’s FY 2023 Fair Shot Budget are transforming the volunteer-led Kingman Rangers initiative into a DOEE program that now offers jobs—and expanded educational resources—to District residents.
Since 2019, Living Classrooms Foundation of the National Capital Region has been running job skills training programs on Kingman and Heritage Islands—modeled in a Park Ranger style—especially for adults and youth who are residents of Wards 5, 6, 7, and 8.
Living Classrooms' dedicated staff has tended to the needs of the conservation area and its visitors while developing applicable skills training,” said Kingman Island Director Portia Sampson-Knapp. “Some projects include clearing trails, building boardwalks, installing ramps to increase safety on the bridges, and clearing invasive plant species.”
Thanks to an American Rescue Plan Act funded, DOEE-administered grant to the Living Classrooms Foundation and with support from the DC Department of Employment Services, the Kingman Rangers program will now train and employ three full-time rangers, four adult seasonal rangers, and 10 student seasonal rangers to conduct ecological restoration and environmental education efforts on Kingman and Heritage Islands.
“When we all come together for the purpose of restoring urban waterways and creating opportunities for the next generation of environmental leaders, great things happen,” said DOEE Director Tommy Wells. “Protecting our environment creates opportunities in the green economy, and that is why Mayor Bowser’s FY23 Fair Shot Budget is continuing to use resources from the American Rescue Plan Act to fund the Kingman Rangers Program.”
“With funding from this grant, the Kingman Rangers programs can expand in capacity and run ranger skills training simultaneously,” said Sampson-Knapp.