Scores of retirees in Silver Spring, MD, are actively involved in daily projects to protect the environment and nurture wildlife at their 120-acre Riderwood campus. Their work has been acknowledged by the Wildlife Habitat Council, which has certified Riderwood as the first large continuing care retirement campus in the United States with such a structured, multi-faceted program.
Resident-run programs are diverse and intriguing, ranging from an Adopt-a-Pot program where residents plant and care for one of the many 36-inch pots at entrances and key locations around the campus, to a Bluebird House Monitoring venture where residents clean and monitor one or more of the 50 songbird and bluebird houses around the campus.
“We are proud of the work we do to protect the environment and make our campus as wildlife and eco-friendly as possible, “said Anne Blackburn, who coordinates several of the resident initiatives. “We have a terrific group of caring people who live at Riderwood.”
Residents water sections of the campus that are not irrigated. They also tend three butterfly gardens and they deadhead rose bushes around the campus to encourage bloom. In addition, they monitor trash rooms and educate everyone about proper recycling procedures.
“The work by our residents is incredibly inspiring,” said Bob Riley, Director of General Services. “They are key to making Riderwood a place where people live life to the fullest by being involved in meaningful projects that improve the quality of life.”
One of the activities – the Sightings Project — encourages residents and staff to record birds, insects, small mammals and vegetation they observe. Another project involves residents who remove invasive vegetation from wildlife-friendly shrubs, trees and plants.
In addition, residents transport excess food from one of Riderwood’s dining rooms each week to a local food bank to help feed men, women and children who are in need. They also serve on committees with staff to develop ongoing ways to conserve energy.
Green initiatives in place include the following:
- Use of environmentally friendly products to clean the facility.
- Continuous improvement in campus recycling efforts.
- Provided help to two local elementary schools in PG and Montgomery counties in establishing Butterfly Gardens
- Continuous efforts to beautify the campus and make it more wildlife-friendly (e.g. planting young Wye Oak trees, increasing the numbers of native wildflowers, trees and shrubs).
- Implementing various energy management initiatives to conserve energy (e.g., energy saving light bulbs, installing light sensors in all offices).
- Providing residents campus-wide with re-usable recycling bags.
- Holding Earth Day celebrations and additional educational activities to create ongoing awareness for the need to conserve energy, protect the environment and nurture wildlife.