The Urban Ecology Engagement Initiative (UEEI) is a collaboration between the student residents of the Anacostia Watershed, their public school teachers, local non-profit organizations, and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC). UEEI began in 2012 as part of the Anacostia Community Museum’s Reclaiming the Edge: Urban Waterways and Civic Engagement exhibition. Through the UEEI program, students engage in activities to help them better understand their local ecosystems and the challenges they face. Since 2014, UEEI students and their teachers have been exploring the urban ecosystems around their schools to document and study environmental changes.
In 2018, UEEI will continue to focus on student inquiry and data collection, but students will also be able to take direct actions to improve their local environments. We will do this by working with students to grow native orchids in their classrooms and eventually plant the orchids in their schoolyards or in other public areas. UEEI aims to challenge the way students view and think about the environment they live in, by getting directly involved in their communities and discovering that nature is found even in very urban ecosystems. We want students, as well as everyone else living in the Anacostia Watershed, to realize that they have the ability to transform the health of their ecosystem!