- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 14, 2001

A "memorial" introduced yesterday will pay tribute to some of the victims of the September 11 attacks while teaching youngsters about the District's environment.
Under sunny skies, D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams announced a partnership to create an Environmental Education Program on Kingman and Heritage islands in the Anacostia River. The two islands will take on the characteristics of a classroom one without walls where students can learn about the environment in the outdoors.
The program also will keep alive the memories of three D.C. students, three teachers and two National Geographic employees who were killed when a hijacked jetliner crashed into the Pentagon September 11. The group was traveling on a National Geographic-sponsored field trip to the Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary near Santa Barbara, Calif.
"This is a wonderful way to honor the lives of the D.C. public schoolchildren and teachers and National Geographic staff who were victims of the tragic events of September 11," Mr. Williams said.
Bernard Brown, 11, and teacher Hilda Taylor of Leckie Elementary; Rodney Dickens, 11, and teacher James Debeuneure of Ketcham Elementary; Asia Cottom, 11, and teacher Sarah Clark of Backus Middle School; and National Geographic employees Ann Judge, 49, of Great Falls, and Joe Ferguson of the District were on American Airlines Flight 77 when it crashed into the Pentagon.
To honor them, eight trees were planted on Kingman Island yesterday.
The Environmental Education program will help students learn about the Anacostia River and Kingman and Heritage Islands as vital natural resources. It also will be a learning tool to help students with geography and science classes.
Students will have an opportunity to study river ecology, the identification and classification of plants and animals, issues that affect the Anacostia River and the relationship between humans and the natural environment.
The District will partner with the National Geographic Society, D.C. Public Schools, the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, the Anacostia Watershed Society and the Earth Conservation Corps.
"The Environmental Education Program will not only help to revitalize the Anacostia River, but will teach our young people about the value of the city's natural resources," Mr. Williams said.
A bevy of D.C. elementary and middle-school students huddled together on a historic wooden bridge that links the islands to the shore to listen to the mayor and the project's co-partners.
John Fahey, president of the National Geographic Society, donated $50,000 toward the development of the program. He said National Geographic was founded 131 years ago to explore the world. Now, National Geographic has decided to focus on the environment.
Michael Watson, assistant field director of Earth Conservation Corps, said the hope is to make what was once a dumping ground a nature center.
Earth Conservation Corps members would lead tours throughout the grounds and educate children about the islands and bring students up to speed on the history of the Anacostia River.
"We would be the keepers of the Kingman and Heritage islands," Mr. Watson, 45, said yesterday after the tree-planting ceremony.
"This was a forgotten river, now it's getting well-deserved attention. I see nothing but positive things happening from now on," he said.


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