"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 idea for the Bioma Project was first conceived by Bill Tong, then a 7th 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 and his friends decided to found the Bioma Project to solve this issue. The first class was held at their 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.
Meet the crew
Bill Tong, Founder & President
Bill Tong 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.
Likes: Fishing, hiking, & tech gadgets
Omar niazi, Chief operating officer
Omar Niazi was one of the 1st students to join the Bioma Project & soon played a major role in our growth. He met with dozens of teachers & students to help develop the Bioma curriculum and workshops.
Likes: Chess, biology, & basketball
Philip Herdman, mentor & advisor
Philip Herdman was the Gifted & Talented program teacher at Clarksville Middle School and helped Bill Tong and his friends create the 1st Bioma class. He has served as an advisor and mentor to the organization ever since.
Likes: Hunting, weightlifting, & exotic foods
Vedaant Shah, Chief Technical officer
Vedaant Shah was responsible for integrating technical tools into our curriculum, especially on renewable energy & virtual reality. He wrote many of technical manuals and care guides for the tanks.
Likes: Tennis, fishing, & coding
David Balakirsky, Chief Financial Officer
David Balakirsky manages our finances & helped recruit the 1st schools to the program. He runs our fishing tournaments & supervises our cleantech workshops. When he’s not crunching numbers he’s building something cool for Bioma.Likes: Coding, robotics, & Team Fortress
Azariah Seblu, Supply chain Analyst
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. He also helped start the youth fishing program that is very popular at our schools.
Likes: Soccer, One Piece, & League of Legends
Anirudh Karegowdra, Wildlife Manager
Anirudh Karegowdra leads streams surveys & collecting trips for specimens. He also helped write care manuals for fish and plants in the curriculum. He supervises the care of organisms in the tank & instructs students and teachers on maintenance.Likes: Science, fishing, & Star Wars
Peter Mirnitchenko, Creative director
Peter Mirnitchenko creates & curates our visual content, supervising the taking and editing of photograph & film. He also does work for our social media accounts & helps out with the youth fishing program.Likes: Photography, aviation, & Fornite
Holden Kim, Social media analyst
Holden Kim helps run our social media strategy, recruiting youth volunteers for conservation projects & reaching out to other conservationist organizations. Holden is also active in our youth fishing program.
Likes: Running, biology, & fishing
Darren McGowan, Fundraiser
Darren McGowan assists David Balakirsky in fundraising & keeping track of money flowing in & out of our accounts. He has also made extensive donations to the Bioma Project, which was helped secure our early growth.
Likes: Math, fishing, & viola
Eric kong, Aquaculture Analyst
Eric Kong helps maintain our aquaculture lab by harvesting clams and crawfish, which promotes the students’ entrepreneurial ventures. He also played a role in writing our lesson plans.
Likes: Cooking, sneakers, & Game of Thrones
Davy Elsaesser, Content curator
David “Davy” Elsaesser was one of the 1st members of the Bioma Project & helped run our early fishing tournaments & youth fishing program. He now edits & reviews our curriculum’s lesson plans & tutorials.
Likes: Hockey, cross-country, & fly-fishing
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