We love it when education happens outside the classroom. This week, 115 students from Richmond County Middle School established roots in environmental education by planting trees. Students standing in line with planted tree

The students and faculty worked with Brent Hunsinger, Friends of the Rappahannock’s Student Project Coordinator, to pick the best spot to plant the trees. Students then planted 12 trees along the border of an empty field beside their school building. 

Their faculty is excited to have students plant trees in this field for several semesters. Students are directly improving their school’s environmental impact. Sixth grade science teacher Patricia Ptucha was thrilled to see,  “how important it is to my students that they are contributing their time to better our school and community through this ‘green’ project.  It’s one more step in helping them become good stewards of our land and waterways.” 

The students’ environmental experience goes beyond planting trees. They are part of a Meaningful Watershed Education Experience (MWEE). FOR staff work with the students to provide them with educational experiences that illustrate what impact our watershed. 

All Virginia students are expected to take part in a MWEE, but many school systems are unable to fund such a large program. FOR loves helping teachers and schools across the region implement these programs. FOR could not do this work without grant funding.

The Chesapeake Bay Trust granted FOR $5,000 to introduce over 300 middle and high school students in King George, Richmond, Essex, and Westmoreland Counties to provide MWEE programs exactly like the one at Students and Friends of the Rappahannock planting treeRichmond County Middle School. 

Trees for Schools

Richmond Middle School also helped FOR kick start our newest restoration program Trees for Schools. Several foundations help fund this program: National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Dominion Foundation, and the Virginia Environmental Endowment. Any school in a county that that surrounds the Rappahannock River Watershed can qualify for tree plantings free of charge. 

Tree plantings will start in Spring 2020, but FOR is looking for schools to start partnering with now.  FOR aims to plant 1,000 large trees on school properties.

Online application opens on December 13: riverfriends.org/free-trees/