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Hampton City Schools and James River Association host education event to celebrate $64,000 grant from National Park Foundation


Hampton City Schools (HCS), the James River Association (JRA) and the National Park Service (NPS) hosted an event the morning of Wednesday, April 20, at the docks at downtown Hampton to celebrate generous grant funding from the National Parks Foundation (NPF) for students in Hampton. The event featured environmental educational activities made possible by the grant, as well as the opportunity to interview students, educators, and staff from HCS and JRA.


The NPF grant was awarded to JRA, NPS, and HCS in September 2021 for more than $64,000 to provide Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (or MWEEs) to every 5th grade student in the school division. Approximately 1,600 5th grade students and 65 5th grade teachers participated in four events including a professional development day for teachers, virtual lessons about Fort Monroe National Monument, boat trips on the Hampton and James River, and stewardship action projects to be completed this May and June.


The morning began with a formal presentation featured JRA Director of Education, Nat Draper; HCS Superintendent, Dr. Jeffery Smith; NPS Chesapeake Education Coordinator and Training Specialist, Brittany Omoleye-Hall; and NPS Colonial Fort Monroe Superintendent, Eola Dance. The event also included educational activities with students from Phillips Elementary School, with half the class participating in a land-based environmental lesson at Fort Monroe, and the other half of the class getting on the water at the Hampton Marina for a boating excursion.


Guests then joined a group of students on the Longview as they toured the river and were involved in several water quality tests looking at abiotic and biotic factors. Students not only tested PH levels, salinity, turbidity, water temperature, phosphates and nitrates, and dissolved oxygen, they had the opportunity to see how much life is in the water. A trawl net was thrown overboard and students collected a croaker, shrimp, spider crab, toad fish, sponges, and more. Before returning all organisms to the water, students learned that structural diversity is a good sign for our ecosystem.

This experience equips our students with the skills and knowledge needed to make well-informed environmental choices that are key to sustaining the health of our community which encompasses the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers. Our collective goal is for students to connect with and share in the richness of our watershed and see themselves as stewards of their communities.


ABOUT THE JAMES RIVER ASSOCIATION: The James River Association is a member-supported nonprofit organization founded in 1976 to serve as a guardian and voice for the James River. Throughout the James River’s 10,000 square mile watershed, the James River Association works toward its vision of a fully healthy James River supporting thriving communities. With offices in Lynchburg, Richmond, Williamsburg, and Scottsville, the James River Association is committed to protecting the James River and connecting people to it. For more information visit www.thejamesriver.org.