"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
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.
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
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)
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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