Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR) is proud to announce that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has funded three years of Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) for City of Fredericksburg schools (FCPS).
Spread over three school years, the $236,000 grant will serve ninth, sixth, and fourth-grade City of Fredericksburg students and teachers starting this fall. Students will experience Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs). Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences (MWEEs) are mandated by the Chesapeake Bay Agreement, however many educators and school systems do not have the financial or physical capacity to implement these programs. This funding will allow city students to gain a better classroom and real-life understanding of the Rappahannock watershed and how human impact can bring positive change. “Getting local students engaged and enthusiastic about our watersheds is critical to protecting our natural areas and community. Our department [City of Fredericksburg Parks & Rec] looks forward to partnering with other local organizations in this grant by supporting these learning experiences through our parks and activities” Callie Brown, the Superintendent of Recreation for Fredericksburg Parks, Recreation, & Events, excitedly shared.
“The hands-on, experiential learning that our students will receive in conjunction with the high-quality professional development provided to our educators through this grant will have a huge impact. Today’s students are the future stewards of our lands, our waters, and our history.” FCPS School Board Chair Katie Pomeroy shared with FOR. Pomeroy credited the collaboration between FCPS’ Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Kecia Lipscomb, FCPS educators, and FOR as fundamental in receiving this programming for the school district.
Through this programming, teachers will receive professional development on how to implement watershed education in their curriculum during the funding period and for years to come. FCPS science teacher, Karl Gron, shared his enthusiasm for the programming. “The MWEE program made possible by the B-WET grant will give our students new and unique experiences that they would not necessarily have had otherwise. We also hope the future activities facilitated by the grant will encourage JMHS students to be environmentally responsible Rappahannock River watershed citizens. “
As part of the MWEE, students will have opportunities to establish and implement solutions to problems faced by our watershed. Many local partners including Downtown Greens, Fredericksburg Area Museum, Fredericksburg Parks and Recreation, Hallowed Grounds History Tours, Rivere, and the Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension will continue to play an essential role in the implementation of this programing. G. Scott Walker from Hallowed Grounds Tours was thrilled to partner with the program sharing that, “the grant will emphasize things that students and the City community do here which has an effect on the places downstream. Grant activities will also, frankly, be enjoyable to the students, cementing the concepts through the classroom, walking / hiking tours of river sites and working on joint projects.”
Many of these partners will be working in collaboration with FOR and FCPS to implement in depth education on local history as pertaining to the Rappahannock watershed. Theresa Kramer, Education and Public Programs Coordinator, shares that the Fredericksburg Area Museum (FAM), “is honored to be one of Friends of the Rappahannock’s B-WET Education and Training partners. Our museum’s educators will be providing cross-curricular social studies and science programing about the Flood of 1942, the largest recorded flood in Fredericksburg’s history. This project directly relates to FAM’s educational mission and interest in supporting local teachers and students.”
As part of FOR’s mission, the organization strives to educate the watershed community to become better stewards of the river and its tributaries. This program will allow our youngest minds in the watershed to gain an appreciation and understanding for the role the river plays in everyday life. Through the MWEE program the education students receive is a perfect blend of advocacy, restoration, and education meeting FOR’s three organizational pillars. For this reason, FOR has been proud to champion MWEEs programs across the Rappahannock watershed for decades.