"In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught."

- Baba Dioum

We bring

A touch of nature in school

In 8th grade, we set out to rethink environmental education.

The  Bioma Project was founded in 2015 by Bill Tong, then a 8th grader at Clarksville Middle School, who realized that some current approaches to environmental learning didn’t work. Students weren’t given the autonomy to run their own projects and enough field experience.  He decided to found the Bioma Project to solve this issue. The first class was held at his middle school, and it soon became the most popular extracurricular. 

Caption: Students volunteer to add blacknose dace to their tank. They  will release these fish later in the year to bolster local populations. 

Our Team

David Balakirsky, President

David manages our finances and helped recruit the first schools to the program. He runs our fishing tournaments and supervises our cleantech workshops. W He served as vice president from 2015 to 2020 and president succeeding Bill.

Likes: Coding, robotics, Team Fortress

Bill Tong, Founder (2016), Advisor (2020-)

Bill founded the Bioma Project in 8th grade and expanded it to schools across Maryland and DC. He won the Tawes Youth Award for his work and serves on the Trout Unlimited Youth Leadership Council; he served as president until his graduation in 2020 and continues to provide guidance for Bioma.

Likes: Fishing, hiking, tech gadgets

Luke Vernon, Member

Luke Vernon helps manage emails and communication for sponsorship and financial support.

Likes: Programming, playing the flute, & robotics

Zach Lee, Member

Zach Lee helps deliver our Bioma tanks to schools and setting up equipment for teachers.

Likes: Math, tennis, & breakdance

Aiden Mihalik, Curriculum Writer (2020-)

Aiden has helped write our Bioma curriculum and improve past lessons. 

Likes: Chess, calculus, & wrestling

Jeffrey Tong, Vice President (2020-)

Jeffrey was introduced to Bioma by his brother Bill and focuses on logistical and technical work, including maintaining the website and writing interactive curriculum apps, for the project.

Likes: Math, informatics, tennis

Philip Herdman, mentor & advisor

Mr. Herdman was the Gifted & Talented program teacher at Clarksville Middle School and helped Bill Tong and his friends create the first Bioma class. He has served as an advisor and mentor to Bioma ever since.

Likes: Hunting, weightlifting, exotic foods

Adrian Cires, Member

Adrian Cires assists in recruiting new schools and answering tank questions for teachers and students.

Likes: Working out, guitar, & economics

Jai raghavan, Member


Jai Raghavan helps add new lesson plans to our curriculum

Likes: Math, history, & fishing

Sanket Vaja, Creative Director (2020-)

Saketh directs media content and helps film and photograph events. 

Likes: Movies, Film-making, Physics

Past Members

Vedaant Shah, Vice President (2015-2020)

Vedaant Shah was responsible for integrating technical tools into our curriculum, especially on renewable energy & virtual reality. He wrote many of our technical manuals and care guides for the tanks.

Likes: Tennis, fishing, & coding

Anirudh Karegowdra, Member (2016-2020)

Anirudh Karegowdra helps on streams surveys & collecting trips for specimens. Joining in 2016, he observes the care of organisms in the tank & instructs students on maintenance.

Likes: Science, fishing, & Star Wars

Peter Mirnitchecko, Creative

Peter Mirnitchenko presented to schools and helped film and edit educational videos for us.

 Likes: Video editing, aviation, & Fortnite

David Elsaessar, Member

Davy Elsaessar helped with our fledging youth fishing program and lead our stream cleanup trips.

Likes: Running, Naruto, & fishing

Mick Dannelly, Member

Mick Dannelly assists in our stream surveys and wildlife maintenance.

Likes: Hiking, fishing, & engineering

Azariah Seblu, Member (2016-2020)

Azariah Seblu keeps track of the movement of supplies & funds for day-to-day activities. He makes sure that each school has enough materials in their workshops. 

Likes: Soccer, One Piece, & League of Legends

Darren McGowan, Member

Darren helped on our stream cleanups and taught younger students how to fish.

Likes: Running, ultimate frisbee, & fishing

Jack Fitzgibbon, Member

Jack Fitzgibbon assists in collecting the native plants and fish for Bioma tanks.

Likes: Chemistry, radiology, & circuitry

Jonathan Fei, Fundraising Manager (2018-2020)

Jonathan assisted Bioma in fundraising and keeping track of money flowing in and out of our accounts. 

Likes: Math, fishing, & viola

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