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Hampton City Schools and staff recognized by the Hampton Clean City Commission

Several Hampton City schools and staff members were recognized for their environmental education efforts by the Hampton Clean City Commission (HCCC) at their annual volunteer recognition event held November 4,, 2023, at Bluebird Gap Farm.

Four schools were recognized as Innovative Schools for the environmental projects they continue to undertake with students: Burbank Elementary, Hampton High, Jones Magnet Middle, and Kecoughtan High Ecology Club.  

The Hampton City Schools (HCS) Oyster Restoration Project was recognized for Water Quality/Stormwater Improvement. The nomination for the project said, “The Hampton City Schools Oyster Restoration Project is an example of community partnerships that benefit the environment. HCS Oyster Restoration Project works with teachers and students and community partners to improve water quality through oyster restoration efforts. The project partners with the Hampton Clean City Commission's Hampton Waterways Restoration subcommittee, the Tidewater Oyster Gardening Association, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Shored Up, the Elizabeth Lake Stewardship Committee, the Hampton City Schools science department, Norfolk State University, and Dandy Haven Marina. The project currently has 21 teachers at 13 different schools raising approximately 14,000 oysters this year. Teachers have been trained in caring for the oysters and how to use the oysters for teaching required science content such as the needs of living things, estuaries, ecosystems, anatomy, water quality, measurement, data collection, sampling techniques, and adaptations.”

Marty Wood, coordinator of printing and records management for HCS, was recognized for her support of the HCCC.  Her nomination stated, “Marty designed marketing materials and continues to go above and beyond to support the mission of HCCC and our outreach efforts. She is an incredibly talented graphic designer and we are so appreciative of her efforts to support Clean City.”

Ashley Ault-Greene of Hampton High was recognized as an Innovative Educator. Ault-Greene sponsors the school’s Ecology Club. Under her guidance, the Ecology Club leads school grounds cleanups and is actively raising oysters as a part of the HCS Oyster Restoration Project. She worked with students from the IB Academy last year to plan and implement the Raffle for the Bay environmental fair that raised over $500 for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation while also educating the public. She also spearheaded the HCS 2023 Earth Day Environmental Arts Contest. Student artwork was displayed at Bluebird Gap Farm and students were recognized for their unique pieces. In her personal life, Ault-Greene is also the chair of the Hampton Waterways Restoration Project, a subcommittee of the Hampton Clean City Commission. As such, she organizes local cleanups, such as recent ones at Bluebird Gap Farm and Outlook Beach at Ft. Monroe.

Missy Powell-Riedl was recognized for her efforts in recycling/waste reduction with students at Burbank Elementary. As per her nomination,  “In the last year alone, Powell-Riedl has worked with students to upcycle three filing cabinets into raised bed planters; planted a pollinator garden and three trees with students; taught students to recycle by learning to read the triangles on the bottoms of containers; worked with fifth graders and the school cafeteria monitor to create a food waste reduction program in the cafeteria; taught students to separate breakfast and lunch waste into recycling, compost and trash; participated in the Trex plastic recycling program removing plastic bags from the waste stream; and taught children the importance of picking up paper and plastic on the school grounds while they do their daily mindfulness walks.”  In addition, Powell-Riedl participated in a week-long GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) summer training and has her kindergartners making daily cloud observations and submitting them to NASA.

Sheryl McLaughlin was honored for her environmental education efforts as the sponsor for the Jones Magnet Middle Ecology Club. Her nomination shared, “Under her direction, the club raises oysters to help clean local waterways - putting their oysters into the Hampton River in May; participates in the Shellebration festival educating the public about oyster restoration; facilitates the school’s paper and plastic recycling; works with CNU to raise trees that will be planted as part of resiliency efforts; plans and participates in Earth Day events including the Hampton City School Earth Day Environmental Art Contest; and raises plants with her students that are sold to raise money for the club.”

Betsy McAllister was given the Harriet Storm Environmental Education Award. Harriet Storm was a long-time HCCC volunteer and environmental advocate. Her nomination read, “McAllister has been an active member of the School Pride in Action Committee for 20 years and has co-chaired the committee for the last two. She not only works hard to expand environmental opportunities for teachers and students but takes an active role with HCCC projects (such as cleanups) in her personal life. McAllister has been instrumental in working with schools to create and use school gardens for instructional purposes; promoting school grounds cleanups (including the annual International Coastal Cleanup and Clean the Bay Day); working with the Maritime Academy, the Floating Classroom, teachers and students to build oyster cages and raise oysters; spearheading the HCS Oyster Restoration Project that won a Governor's Excellence in Education Award in 2023; collaborating with the city’s public works department to get gray rolling toters donated to schools so they are able to recycle; planning and participating in local Earth Day events; and assisting teachers in writing grants for environmental projects.”

The Hampton Clean City Commission recognizes the efforts of schools and educators, along with volunteers, each fall.  Mayor Donnie Tuck, Vice Mayor Jimmy Gray, Councilwomen Martha Mugler and Hope Harper, as well as Councilmen Steven Brown and Chris Bowman were at the event to honor the educators.