March 20, 2007
Director of Communications
Public Information Officer
Students from 65 Virginia schools will combine learning with service to the environment this spring as they take to the field to monitor and protect the commonwealth's streams and rivers. The students will be participating in 13 service-learning projects funded through "Learn and Serve America" grants awarded by the Virginia Department of Education. Participating students will learn and apply the content of the commonwealth's academic standards while demonstrating active citizenship.
The projects funded through the Learn and Serve America grants eventually will involve an estimated 12,000 students and will move Virginia closer to achieving the goal of the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement of providing every student with a "meaningful watershed experience" before graduation from high school. Most of the funded projects involve partnerships with colleges and universities, state agencies and environmental organizations.
"From the Clinch River to the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia students will be applying what they have learned in the classroom and gaining an appreciation of the importance of environmental stewardship and community service," said Superintendent of Public Instruction Billy K. Cannaday Jr. "With so many students participating, these projects and activities are bound to have a positive impact on the environment of our beautiful state. The students will learn that they can make a difference."
The grants, which total $358,270 and range from $13,000 to $26,000, will fund the following projects:
- Chesapeake Bay Savers – Students from Western Branch Middle School and Western Branch Intermediate School in Chesapeake will make connections between school grounds, the Elizabeth River and the Chesapeake Bay through projects involving the construction of saltwater aquariums, oyster and shad restoration and community awareness.
- Chesapeake Bay Watershed Field Studies Outreach – Students at the Chesapeake Bay Governor's School (CBGS) in Tappahannock will share knowledge and act as mentors as middle and elementary school students from the high school's 13 supporting divisions join CBGS's ongoing water quality testing program for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). CBGS students also will conduct an environmental science fair for elementary students in supporting school divisions.
- Linking the York and You – Students at Peasley Middle School in Gloucester County will enhance the school's outdoor wildlife habitat by adding an aquatic area. This feature will attract additional wildlife and provide an area for training students to monitor water quality in a nearby stream. Students also will upgrade a nature trail along the stream to improve accessibility and increase its attractiveness to wildlife.
- Montgomery County Public Schools Service Learning Program – Students from Montgomery County's four high schools will create a water-quality monitoring network covering all watersheds in the county. The network will build on existing efforts and partnerships with higher education and state government. Goals include the removal of streams in three major watersheds from the DEQ impaired streams list.
- Luray High School Environmental Service Learning Project – Students from Luray High School in Page County will monitor water quality in the Shenandoah River and examine the river's wildlife and plant life. Students also will conduct scientific tests as they investigate factors that may have contributed to recent fish kills in the river. Results of student investigations and experiments will be reported on the school's website.
- Staunton's Lewis Creek: Learning from the Past, Improving the Future – Students from Robert E. Lee High School and Shelburne Middle School in Staunton will monitor water quality in the Lewis Creek watershed and carry out erosion control, stream bank restoration and run-off retention projects. Projects include construction of a "rain garden" and several biofiltration systems to improve water quality.
- Waters of the Appalachians Tested and Reviewed Partnership – The Learn and Serve America grant will fund the expansion of an ongoing program, allowing students from 17 schools in Wise County, Russell County and Scott County to monitor water quality in the Clinch River watershed and carry out related inquiries and projects. Students from the University of Virginia at Wise and Mountain Empire Community College will serve as mentors and teaching assistants in science classes.
- Slow the Flow – Students in Rockbridge County, Buena Vista and Lexington will monitor water quality and carry out conservation and remediation projects in the Maury River watershed. Grant-funded projects will be conducted in partnership with the Boxerwood Nature Center and DEQ. Selected students will follow the course of the Maury River and James River to the Chesapeake Bay, stopping to sample water quality and study wildlife and plants.
- Donnie H. Rainbolt Environmental Wetlands Recovery Project – Students from Lebanon High School in Russell County will mitigate environmental issues in a wetland adjacent to the school athletic fields. Planned efforts include selective cutting of trees to promote the natural succession of native species, the monitoring of soil and water quality and the construction of low-impact trails. Students will create a website to report on their progress.
- Helping Hands: Reaching Out to Our Watershed Community – Students from seven Spotsylvania County middle schools will conduct water-quality studies and carry out watershed restoration and conservation projects. Outdoor classrooms will be established at each middle school and students will investigate the connection between local water quality and the health of the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed.
- Environmental Service Learning Project for Wallace Middle School – Students from Wallace Middle School in Washington County will be trained by DEQ and the Virginia Department of Conservation Resources (DCR) to monitor water quality in Beaver Creek and Little Creek. Students also will assist DCR with reclamation and conservation efforts and create an outdoor classroom.
- The Roots of the Watershed and Into the Stream – Students from Roanoke County schools will carry out erosion-control projects at Glenvar Middle School and Glenvar High School. Students also will study the water quality and biodiversity of Little Bear Rock Branch and a portion of the Roanoke River. The project will eventually involve students from eight Roanoke County schools and the development of supporting programming on watersheds at the Science Museum of Western Virginia.
- Wolf's Creek Walk – Students from William Byrd High School, William Byrd Middle School and Arnold Burton Technology Center in Roanoke County will monitor water quality in the Wolf Creek watershed. Students also will identify and care for native plants, replenish native species and construct a nature trail along the creek.
The service learning projects also are supported with matching funds provided by the participating school divisions and partnering organizations.
Service learning connects classroom instruction with opportunities for meaningful service to the community. All funded projects are designed to raise student achievement, promote good citizenship and strengthen partnerships between schools and community organizations.
The Learn and Serve America grant program is funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service, an independent federal agency created in 1993 to promote volunteerism and community service.