Celebrating Our Volunteers: Join the Conservation Volunteers 2022-23

In December 2021, ANS revamped its Conservation Research and Advocacy Volunteer Program to consistently engage members and volunteers in the work of our Conservation Department. Conservation advocates in DC, Maryland, and Virginia host bi-monthly meetings with volunteers paired with a training or workshop to enhance their skills and ability to assist advocates as they engage government leadership and communities on ANS’s Conservation Priorities.  

Our volunteers come from a variety of professional backgrounds that helps give our organization a broader view on the issues we choose to engage in. As advocates, we often have our hands full managing our outreach projects, meetings, coalitions, and research. We are so grateful to our volunteers that help better cover all the many needs and opportunities of our big region! Below we have highlighted the work and contributions our volunteers have made this year in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Please read our volunteer’s testimonials and know that you do not have to be an expert to help, just someone with some time and the desire to learn about and help the climate crisis in any way you know best. We will find something for you!  

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please come to our next meeting on Tuesday, October 18th at 1 pm via Zoom and SAVE THE DATE for our December Meeting, in person at Woodend Nature Sanctuary on Wednesday, December 14th at 2:00 pm!

For more questions, please contact Jamoni Overby ([email protected]).

Conservation advocates with volunteers at August Bi-Monthly Meeting

How have our volunteers impacted the region?

Washington, DC 

Anne Cottingham met weekly with our DC Conservation Advocate to draft and provide her expertise to formulate comments on Rock Creek’s Beach Drive, found here.

Sally Winthrop is a volunteer that claims to be less experienced in policy and advocacy but has been an amazing contributor to initial research on DC Environmental Budget Testimony and has attended different meetings and briefings to take notes on behalf of our busy advocates. 

Christine Powell has engaged in a variety of research projects on electrification, Zero Waste DC Plan, environmental justice and equity, and general preparation for meetings with councilmembers, consultants and agency leaders. Christine also played a major role in drafting ANS’s Testimony on the DC Environmental Budget, which can be read here

“Volunteering at ANS allows me to give back to our world and our community.  I have been a water quality monitor for over a decade, and a member of the Board Program Committee for the last few years.   I have recently joined the advocacy team, which entails research and review of documents on a variety of timely issues and attendance at pertinent meetings.  This is a great fit to match the skills I developed as an employee of a federal land management agency. I am so thankful for these opportunities to make the world a better place and to learn from the dedicated staff!”

Christine Powell, ANS volunteer and Member


MD General Assembly 2022 

During the 2022 MD General Assembly we had three wonderful ANS volunteers assist us in tracking and following three of the four main bills this session.   

Anne Cottingham attended the weekly coalition meetings, followed and wrote testimony for HB716 / SB273 – Environment – PFAS Chemicals – Prohibitions and Requirements (George “Walter” Taylor Act which passed in this year’s MDGA.  Anne also wrote a special PFAS blog which can be found here.   

Sean Lynch followed and wrote testimony for HB596 – Constitutional Amendment – Environmental Rights which unfortunately did not pass inn this year’s MDGA. 

Pamela Janssen followed and wrote testimony for HB716 / SB367 – Patuxent River Commission – Membership which passed in this year’s MDGA.  

You can see all of their testimony in our MDGA22 page here

“Volunteering for the ANS research and advocacy program this year has been energizing and gratifying for me. With help and guidance from the small but mighty ANS advocacy staff, I’ve been able to take a deep dive into several issues that address ANS advocacy priorities. (This guidance is essential as ANS decides how best to deploy its advocacy resources.) This spring I worked with Denisse Guitarra to track exciting new Maryland legislation to limit the manufacture, sale and use of some perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) “forever” chemicals in food/drink packaging, new rugs/carpets, and in firefighter foam and protective equipment. I later prepared a blogpost on the bill. This summer I worked with Jamoni Overby to draft ANS comments on a National Park Service environmental assessment addressing the impacts of the proposed permanent closure of sections of Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park to vehicles. From protection of land, waterways, and human health to conservation and public land management (to name only a few), there’s always something worth a look on the ANS environmental advocacy radar screen.”

Anne Cottingham, ANS Volunteer and Member

¡Sí se puede! 

¡Sí se puede! the project whose goal was to grow a community of empowered environmental leaders in Long Branch from 2021- 2022. We worked with 10 families on a project of their choosing which they picked to reduce litter and increase recycling. This project could not have been done without the enormous help of ANS volunteers from assisting at events, tabling at fairs, taking notes, helping with registration, helping to translate and interpret if they speak Spanish, and take pictures. The project has come to an end as of Sep 2022 but up next, we have the “Don’t Pollute” project at Long Branch too this time with high school students. We also have outreach projects in Fairfax County (Waterkeepers of Little Hunting Creek) and DC (Ward 8 Water Watchers) that make great use of volunteers in all capacities. 

Montgomery County Forest Coalition 

Debra Street has been assisting the Montgomery Forest Coalition in taking notes and doing critical research across two years as the Coalition has gone from Planning Department to Council, and ensure we pass a no net loss and a net gain of forests bill in the county.  Debra’s precise attention to details and careful notetaking has allowed the coalition to always be on track for next steps. Thank you, Debra! 

Northern Virginia

Sally Winthrop and Christine Powell worked together to provide a detailed review and comments on Fairfax County’s draft resiliency plan. These comments were the basis for our action alert and blog post: Speak up for bold action with Resilient Fairfax! – ANS Conservation Blog (anshome.org) 

Jenny Lee has been a tremendous help in joining on-going meetings as part of our Fairfax Healthy Communities network as we have hosted discussions with key partners about the complexities of where paved trails get built. She has captured our discussions via detailed notes that allow our network partners to engage more fully in deep discussions and help us refer back to discussions to define solid next steps for moving the group forward. 

ANS has also hosted tables at a variety of community engagement events this year where volunteers were a critical part of increasing our capacity to talk to and educate visitors on watershed topics. Thank you to Anne Doll, Ginny McNair, Amy Spector, Elaine Kolish, Jack Person, and Honora Dent for their time and positive vibes as we talked about solar energy and macroinvertebrates at various events.

“I love using my research skills to contribute to the education and advocacy work of ANS. My research assignments included taking notes on the DC Environmental Budget Priorities meeting, providing background info for an environmental justice webinar and information one-pager, and providing comments on the 96-page Resilient Fairfax Draft plan. This experience has given me the opportunity to increase my knowledge and contribute in a small way to the mission of ANS. I’m looking forward to doing more!”

Sally Winthrop, ANS Volunteer