975 Indian Landing Road
Millersville, MD 21108
tel. 410-222-3822

The Environmental Literacy and Outdoor Education Office of Anne Arundel County Public Schools provides interdisciplinary outdoor education for AACPS students and teachers. We integrate environmental literacy and outdoor learning into the AACPS school-based curricula at all grade levels for all students. We are part of the division of Curriculum and Instruction of Anne Arundel County Public Schools. For over 50 years we have provided interdisciplinary environmental and outdoor education. Through outreach and our site-based programs, we provide face-to-face instruction to more than 25,000 students and 8,000 adults each school year. In addition, our school-based curricula reach students at all grade levels every year.

Our goals are to:

  1. Develop and implement environmental literacy curriculum at all grade levels that aligns with the Maryland Environmental Literacy standards and the Maryland College and Career-Ready Standards.
  2. Provide outdoor and environmental programming in which students investigate and take action on environmental issues and learn to enjoy aquatic environments safely.
  3. Empower teachers to use the environment and the outdoors as a context for learning.
  4. Serve as a community resource for building environmental stewardship and educating the residents of Anne Arundel County.

Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center is the headquarters of the Environmental Literacy and Outdoor Education Office. AACPS purchased Arlington Echo in 1971 from the Arlington Presbyterian Church of Baltimore. The 24-acre youth camp was named Arlington Echo because a call from the bluff would echo back from across the Severn River. AACPS had previously rented the property to be used as the “Arlington Echo Outdoor School.” In 1974, the site became known as the “Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center.” Arlington Echo now serves as the outdoor education site for the fourth grade environmental literacy program and the “home base” for the many other programs overseen by ELOE Office.






Our History


Final WSA Box Anniversary LogoAACPS and the Anne Arundel Department of Public Works (AADPW) collaborated to create the AA County Watershed Stewards Academy (WSA), a unique community outreach and environmental action program. Watershed Stewards Academy builds capacity in Anne Arundel County by training Master Watershed Stewards to help neighbors reduce pollution in our local creeks and rivers. The certification course gives Stewards the tools to implement change in their communities, turning knowledge into action. Stewards work with their communities to install projects such as rain gardens or conservation landscapes and to reduce pollution at its source. Collectively, these small community-based actions are improving the health of the larger Chesapeake Bay watershed. Since 2009, WSA has certified over 160 Master Watershed Stewards from Brooklyn Park to Herring Bay. Each year, these Stewards collaborate with neighbors, businesses, schools and each other to install hundreds of projects that reduce pollution in our rivers and streams.

Visit the Watershed Stewards Academy website!

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Office of Environmental Literacy and Outdoor Education

Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center

975 Indian Landing Road
Millersville, Maryland 21108

(410)222-3826 fax 

Kindergarten – Trees are Terrific @ Downs Park

8311 John Downs Loop
Pasadena, MD 21122

Water Ready with Drownproofing Program @ Arundel Oympic Swim Center

2690 Riva Rd
Annapolis, MD 21401
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A collage of photos of adults walking a tightrope, one adult being lifted over a wall, an adult climbing a stack of tires and a adult being lifted through a web made of ropes. A collage of photos of adults standing in a circle, adults standing in a line, adults sitting on each other's laps, adults holding ropes and adults holding hands. A collage of photos with adults standing in a circle, adults lifting another adult and adults holding hula hoops.

The Initiative and Confidence course at Arlington Echo is designed for students and adults to build communication and cooperation skills. Through a series of field games and low elements, participants work as a team to solve problems and overcome challenges. These team building activities help participants become more self-confident as individuals and more collaborative as members of a team. Completing these activities is also a great way for participants to build trust. This course works well with students at the beginning of the school year, faculty groups, clubs and sports teams. All groups must be led by a certified instructor. Certification requires a two-day, 16-hour workshop, which is offered at Arlington Echo three times a year.

Initiative and Confidence Certification – OUT22003 Unified Talent

This two-day, 16-hour workshop provides the certification required to use the Initiative and Confidence Course at the Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center. AACPS personnel sign up on ERO. Non-AACPS personnel contact the Environmental Literacy and Outdoor Education Office 410-222-3822.

Initiative and Confidence Recertification – OUT83601 Unified Talent

Recertification is required every two years. AACPS personnel sign up on ERO for this half day workshop. Non-AACPS personnel contact the Environmental Literacy and Outdoor Education Office 410-222-3822.

Contact Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center 410-222-3822

program landing page

The AACPS Environmental Literacy and Outdoor Education instructional programs, provide both in-classroom and out-of-classroom experiences. Students participate in authentic, interdisciplinary, hands-on, environmental and outdoor learning. The lessons and programs enhance, extend and enrich classroom curriculum. Students connect with their local environment, investigate the impact of their actions on our planet, and learn to make and act upon responsible environmental decisions. Students also prepare for college, career and civic life while they build environmental literacy. 

Kindergarten – Trees are Terrific

Arlington Echo Grade 4

Water Ready Grade 5

Chesapeake Connections Grade 6



High School Internships

Initiative & Confidence Course

Watershed Stewards Academy

*** This page is for long-term volunteers and service learning students, NOT parents volunteering during their child’s program. If you are a parent volunteer, please go to the “Programs” tab and select the program for which you are volunteering. ***

A collage of photos with two people wearing tie dye shirts, 4 campers wearing lifejackets, two students hugging a tree, two adults wearing waders, a water instructor holding a student while they float on their back and two kindergarten students holding small pinecones.

Volunteer today and make a difference! Volunteers are essential to fulfilling our mission: To empower students of all ages through environmental and outdoor experiences that connect them with the natural world and equip them with the knowledge, skills, and motivation to make and act upon responsible environmental decisions. See below for opportunities ranging from environmental education to horticulture!

Benefits of Volunteering:

  • Join a dynamic and supportive team that wants to see you succeed
  • Foster environmental stewardship
  • Instill confidence in youth
  • Gain training and experience related to various skills and techniques
  • Network and meet like-minded people
  • Spend time outdoors
  • Restore natural ecosystems
  • Access potential for leadership roles, such as training other volunteers
  • Access potential for academic credit
  • Receive monthly volunteer opportunities newsletter
  • Enjoy volunteer appreciation social event


Training is provided for all volunteer assignments.

Land Steward

  • Duties: Maintain the native gardens and plant nursery. Manage invasive plant species. Assist with restoration projects. 
  • Time: 1-4 hours/day
  • Location: Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center, 975 Indian Landing Rd, Millersville, MD 21108

Kindergarten Activity Leader (K)

  • Duties: Run a learning station to investigate the life cycle of a tree, forest ecology, or lead a tree-planting activity with small groups of students. 
  • Time: 4-5 hours/day
  • Location: Downs Park, 8311 John Downs Loop, Pasadena, MD 21122

4th Grade Activity Leader (4th)

  • Duties: Run a learning station to investigate the human impact on the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed.
  • Time: 4-8 hours/day
  • Location: Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center, 975 Indian Landing Rd, Millersville, MD 21108

Aquatic Aid: Water Ready with Drownproofing (5th)

  • Duties: Support students during the water safety program, with special attention given to those with minimal experience swimming. Assistance may be needed inside or outside the water, depending on the school.
  • Time: 2-5 hours/day
  • Location:
    • October-May: Arundel Olympic Swim Center, 2690 Riva Rd, Annapolis, MD 21401
    • September, May, and June: Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center, 975 Indian Landing Rd, Millersville, MD 21108

Field Assistant or Activity Leader: Chesapeake Connections (6th)

  • Duties: Aid in planting, macroinvertebrate collection, and water quality testing during the student’s field experiences, or lead an activity with students about water quality testing.
  • Time: 3-6 hours/day
  • Location: Site locations are throughout Anne Arundel County


  • Duties: Maintain first grade monarch gardens and care for new trees planted by the kindergarten students
  • Time: Flexible throughout the year; some school gardens require entry during the school day
  • Location: Elementary schools throughout the county

Additional Opportunities

There are none at this time. Please contact us at Volunteer-ELOE@aacps.org or 410-222-3822 if you have a specific interest!

Getting Started

To get started, please fill out our volunteer application.

Please note: All volunteers are required to attend an orientation at Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center. All positions are contingent upon completion of a successful background check.

Contact Information:

Please contact our Volunteer Coordinator at Volunteer-ELOE@aacps.org or 410-222-3822 if you have any questions.

Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center

975 indian Landing Rd.
Millersville, MD 21108 


Kindergarten – Trees are Terrific @ Downs Park

8311 John Downs Loop
Pasadena, MD 21122

At Main Gate

  1. Present activity badge at gate.
  2. Continue on Chesapeake Bay Drive to Fernwood Pavilion parking lot (fourth/last parking area on the right)
  3. Park and walk to Fernwood Pavilion.


5th Grade –  Water Ready with Drownproofing @ Arundel Olympic Swim Center

2690 Riva Rd
Annapolis, MD 21401



The Water Ready Program is a comprehensive aquatic safety program for fifth grade students in Anne Arundel County Public Schools. Students learn personal water safety skills through classroom and pool instruction. At school, water safety readiness lessons are taught by classroom teachers. Students are transported to one of two pools used for the water portion of the program. The Anne Arundel County Recreation & Park’s Arundel Olympic Swim Center in Annapolis is used throughout the school year. The pool at Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center is only used for a few schools. Water Safety instruction is taught in by certified aquatic safety instructors. Lessons focus on personal water safety, use of personal flotation devices (PFDs), safe rescues of others, cold water survival techniques, hypothermia and ice safety. Volunteers are needed to supervise students at the pool and assist instructors.

The Water Ready curriculum aligns and supports the 5th grade Language Arts and Physical Education standards. The preparation, action, and reflection that is embedded into the Water Ready program satisfies 5 of the 75 hours of service learning required for graduation.

For more information about water safety, click HERE.

 Students laying on the pool deck rescuing partners with a long net.


In preparation for the Water Ready, please follow the guidelines below. Classroom teachers will also share this information with students before the program.

Students are to wear/bring the following equipment to the pool:

  • Students wear their bathing suits under their school clothes
  • Pack underwear for changing into after the aquatic’s lesson.
  • Pack 2 towels
  • Pack extra set long sleeve shirt and long pants to get wet

Suggestions to make things run smoothly:

  • School clothes should be easy for students to put on when changing after swim time. These clothes should be worn over their swim wear and will be put into a locker to stay dry during instruction.  These clothes will be dry for changing into when the students travel back to school.
  • For a simulated Cold-Water Survival lesson, students will bring an extra set of winter clothes to put on over their swim wear. (Long sleeve shirt and long pants) These should not be too tight as the students will be wet when putting them on.
  • 2 towels- 1 for the pool deck gets very wet; 1 for the locker room to dry off at the end.
  • A brush or comb and a ponytail holder for students with long hair.
  • Glasses case is recommended for students who wear glasses.
  • Goggles may be worn if they do not cover the nose, but will not be allowed if they interfere with instruction.
  • A T-shirt or shorts may be worn over the swimsuit or swim trunks for swimming but should not be baggy or get in the way while swimming.
  • Neutral scented lotions and hair de-tangler can be brought, but not shared.

Students are NOT to bring:

  • Money or valuables such as watches or jewelry.
  • Cell phones or electronic devices.
  • Hair dryers, shampoo, soap or hairstyling products such as hair gel or hair spray.
  • Students will not be showering.
  • Perfume, body spray, or scented lotion.
  • Glass or mirrors.
  • Snorkel masks, nose plugs or aqua shoes.


Volunteers are an integral part of the Water Ready Program, helping to meet the safety and instructional needs of the students. They serve as Readiness Assistants and sometimes Aquatic Assistants under the supervision of a program instructor.  Volunteers do not need to get into the water.

In preparation for Water Ready, please follow these guidelines:

  • All Volunteers must have a fingerprint supported background check completed through Anne Arundel County Public Schools prior to volunteering.
  • Please call 410-222-5045 to make an appointment. Recommended to complete THREE WEEKS prior to the trip date.
  • Complete Sexual Harassment and Child Abuse Prevention training.
  • Arrive at the pool THIRTY MINUTES prior to the students and remain for the last group from your school.
  • Attend a volunteer orientation at the pool before students arrive.
  • Read through the volunteer information for more details on responsibilities.
  • Check Volunteer Board in classroom upon arrival at the pool for your name.
  • Aquatic Assistants bring swim wear and towel. Lockers are available for a fee or items can be stored on volunteer tables in the classroom.
  • Dress for the climate of the pool and locker room areas: Readiness Assistants should be prepared for the warmth of the pool while Aquatic Assistants should be prepared for the chill.
  • Younger siblings are not permitted to attend.
  • Volunteers may want to bring a water and snack. The students will be eating after their aquatic’s instruction ends and they have changed into their dry clothes.  Volunteers are assisting all 5th grade students and may be on site longer than the students. There will not be time for a lunch break.

Volunteer Responsibilities:

  1. Reinforce pool rules at all times.
  2. Assist in supervising the students while at the facility.
  3. Supervise in the locker rooms from outside the privacy curtain.
  4. Assist instructors with adhering to a fast paced time schedule of getting students ready for instruction and ready to load bus.
  5. Be alert to the needs of students and instructors.
  6. Be at the pool edge monitoring students’ safety.
  7. Be enthusiastic, patient, persuasive and encouraging.
  8. Use positive statements when giving instructions.
  9. Positive verbal reinforcement is crucial! A smile also helps!

Instructional Program

Water Ready is an aquatic safety education program. Swimmers and non-swimmers will gain water safety skills according to each individual’s ability. Students have an option to take a deep water test if that is something they have done before. Students that are more comfortable being where they can touch the bottom of the pool, will be in the shallow area of the pool where they can stand up. Students will complete a handbook and lessons in the classroom in addition to in-pool lessons.

Personal Safety: How do I save myself if I were to get into trouble in the water?

  • Briefly discuss the causes of drowning.
  • Discuss expectations and student responsibilities.
  • Screening will be done based on swimming ability to place students in instructional groups.
  • Skills will be taught based on where the assessment has placed the student: deep water or shallow water.

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs): Your Friend for Life

  • Discuss proper size, shape and types of PFDs.
  • Demonstrate how to put on a PFD on land and in water.
  • Observe a demonstration on the use of the five classes of PFDs.

Non-Swimming Rescues: How do I save someone safely without endangering myself?

  • Discuss and demonstrate the proper steps when evaluating an emergency situation.
  • Perform a non-swimming rescue.

Cold Water Survival: Cold Water Can Kill

  • Briefly discuss hypothermia and cold water survival.
  • Swim with a long pair of pants and long-sleeved shirt.
  • Inflate clothing to make a flotation aid.

Non-Swimming Rescues: How do I save someone safely without endangering myself?

  • Discuss and demonstrate the proper steps when evaluating an emergency situation.
  • Perform a non-swimming rescue.


Heather McCarthy hhmccarthy@aacps.org

Amy Grief agrief@aacps.org

Water Ready Voicemail 410-222-5855

Arlington Echo 410-222-3822

Chesapeake Connections reaches every 6th grade student through an engaging, real-world restoration program. Learning starts in the classroom when Chesapeake Connections visits the students for a pre-trip lesson aimed at building background knowledge and generating excitement. Students then embark on an environmental stewardship field experience where they explore a local ecosystem and engage in a number of activities. Chesapeake Connections combines learning, stewardship, and exploration in a local setting and encourages students to apply their in-classroom learning to real-world environmental problems and their solutions. The Chesapeake Connections restoration project varies for each school and may involve participation in a stormwater restoration planting, oyster restoration, reforestation project, or climate data collection study.

*The Chesapeake Connections Program fulfils the 10 hour service learning requirement for the 6th graders.

Partners of Chesapeake Connections


Eóin Oneill eoneill@aacps.org  

Anna Youngk aeyoungk@aacps.org 

Amanda Miller akmiller@aacps.org   

Arlington Echo 410-222-3822