Wow! Friends of the Rappahannock have accomplished so much at our Headwaters office this past year! In 2021, the office gained an Education Manager and a Restoration Technician. If you know anything about FOR you know that we have been active in advocacy and restoration in the headwaters region for many years. We are thankful for the partnerships in advocacy and restoration that helped pave the way for our education efforts to take off in 2021. One of our foundational relationships in education has been with both Fauquier and Culpeper Parks and Recreation.
Jill Miller of Fauquier Parks and Recreation kindly shared with Education Manager, April Harper, “[We] have partnered with the Friends of the Rappahannock to provide programs centered on introducing youth to the wonderful nature provided by the Rappahannock River and our parks in surrounding areas. Their programs and teaching style have engaged the youth involved in the programs and keeps them coming back session after session. We feel fortunate to have forged the partnership and look forward to continually growing the programs we can offer together.”
Our educators led kids in summer camp programs at Riverside Preserve, Owl Prowls, and even STEM Challenges! Not even a pandemic could limit our growth this year, which is such a testament to how dedicated the upper watershed is to environmental education. FOR recieved a NOAA BWET grant for the upper watershed this year and it really acted as a catalyst for expanding our work with schools. In October alone, we led over 100 Culpeper County High School students in tree planting at Lenn Park as a service project and guided water quality sampling for over 60 students in the Shenandoah Mountains. Both experiences we know students will never forget.
Simply delivering these programs takes teamwork! Aleta Daniels with John Marshall Soil and Water Conservation district co-led some of these lessons. She was celebrating with us saying, “The power of collaborative efforts to enhance education for MWEEs and other environmental literacy programs is incredible- by partnering with organizations like FOR, we are able to expand the reach of our programs, increase environmental education outreach, and enhance the quality of our shared natural resources as a result of these partnerships.”
Let’s not forget that we wouldn’t be able to have such a great year without those financially supporting our mission. We have been able to introduce many families to citizen science by teaching about birds and pollinators through grants from the Richard Lyckes Memorial Fund and the Kortlandt Memorial Fund. FOR’s Headwaters staff were even left speechless at the generosity of the Path Foundation with their support that will outfit our very own fleet of boats! We can’t wait to expand the opportunities we give to youth and families in the region by getting them on the water and truly experiencing the Rappahannock River! As we celebrate this past year, we must acknowledge all of those that helped us meet our current educational goals and that will continue to be partners in environmental education for many years to come! These fabulous organizations and groups include the Clifton Institute, John Marshall Soil and Water Conservation District, Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District, Goose Creek Association, RAPP Flow, the Rappahannock River Round Table, and Old Rag Master Naturalists.
Written by Education Manager, April Harper