Last week, askHRgreen.org recognized two local schools and educators for their commitment to environmental stewardship and leadership. Wendy VanHosen, assistant principal at John Yeates Middle School in Suffolk, and Amber LaMonte, a teacher at York High School in Yorktown, each received the Environmental Action Award from askHRgreen.org on Thursday, Feb. 16, at the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC) meeting in Chesapeake.
The Environmental Action Award was developed to recognize individuals who inspire youth (K-12) to have a positive impact on the environment by taking action in their schools or communities. The winning projects had previously received funding through the askHRgreen.org mini-grant program and were selected as outstanding by a panel of local askHRgreen.org representatives from the HRPDC’s 17 member jurisdictions and HRSD. The John Yeates Middle School and York High School projects were among 19 projects under consideration for the award, all of which were funded by askHRgreen.org in 2016.
John Yeates Middle School was recognized for VanHosen’s leadership of a school-wide recycling program.
“This project is a shining example of what can be done when students, teachers and community partners work together,” said Katie Cullipher, askHRgreen.org team leader. “Not only did the project focus on the importance of recycling and reducing landfill contributions, but also on integrating diverse studies from art to science to social studies. The project itself is a sustainable initiative that will continue to impact students and the environment for years to come.”
At York High School, LaMonte helped the school’s green team improve availability and access to tap water and reduce plastic bottle waste by installing a water bottle filling station at the school.
“We were impressed that the students tracked data on water usage and challenged their peers to reduce waste. Because of their efforts, the school experienced a 75 percent increase in the number of students carrying reusable water bottles,” said Cullipher. “While the projects may have started with a simple idea and a small amount of grant funding, both serve as a legacy to their schools and will continue to remind students and faculty alike that we can each make an impact by thinking globally and acting locally.”
In addition to the award, each school received a check for $100.00 to be spent to further their project or to launch a new environmental initiative.
askHRgreen.org offers environmental education mini-grants of up to $500 to provide funding for environmentally-themed projects for students. All Hampton Roads teachers (K-12), youth leaders or organizations working with youth are eligible to apply. For details visit www.askhrgreen.org/mini-grant-program/
Video Provides Fresh Look at Waste Management Services
What happens to trash, recycling and yard debris after residents place it at the curb? Virginia Beach Public Work’s Waste Management division, with production assistance from the Communications Office’s Multimedia Services division, created a new video, “Beyond the Curb, Virginia Beach Waste Management Services,” that shows it all. It is available on VBTV’s YouTube page, www.youtube.com/VirginiaBeachTV and is being rolled out to the community through online resources. Staff will use it as part of future public presentations as well.
Blog contributed by Craig Simmons, Recycling Administrative Technician for the City of Virginia Beach.
Congratulations to Hampton Christian Academy Elementary for winning the Trex Plastic Bag Challenge again! They collected 1,035 pounds of plastic bags and consumer films and achieved a pounds per student ratio of 7.238. They will receive a Trex plastic bench. They are ranked number 5 in all 550 participating schools by student ratio.
Congratulations also to Phoebus High School! The students there collected the most pounds of plastics bags – 1,205 – which is an equivalent of approximately 93,000 plastic bags! Because of their higher student population, their ratio was 1.004. The students collected nearly a quarter of all the plastic bags collected in Hampton during the competition.
Congratulations to Armstrong School of the Arts – they had the highest public school ratio in the city – 2.507 pounds per student.
Altogether, 16 schools in Hampton participated this year and collected a combined total of 5,166 pounds of bags and consumer films! That’s more than 2 tons of plastic bags. Think about that the next time you hold a plastic bag in your hand! That’s nearly 400,000 plastic bags! Nearly all the schools were supported by volunteers who helped transport the bags and plastic film to Farm Fresh locations for recycling. Thank you Farm Fresh stores, for allowing the participants to bring their plastic bags to your store!
Congratulations to all the participants for facilitating the students’ participation in this contest! Because of staff and volunteer support, nearly 10,000 students had the opportunity to participate in a fun and meaningful activity. Many thanks for your efforts!
It’s that time of year to get outside and enjoy the beautiful spring weather. For those of us who love to garden the season has already frantically begun. So much to do and so little time!!! For our local butterfly expert, Deb Cady – Master Gardener and a Director of The Butterfly Society of Virginia, it means the start of butterfly season. Deb raises many varieties of butterflies and releases them in various gardens around town including her own in north Suffolk, where she has transformed her garden into a butterfly haven. This year however, there is a new location she plans to release and establish a thriving butterfly community and that’s the new Butterfly Garden at Bennett’s Creek Park. Deb and a small team of Suffolk Master Gardeners teamed up with Keep Suffolk Beautiful and Suffolk Parks and Recreation to install a small butterfly garden next to the children’s playground and they plan to open it for Earth Day on April 23rd at 11am. Deb is leading the installation of the garden which started on April 11th and will be completed the following week. Deb says, “There will be 70 plants for butterflies to enjoy and we hope that when people see the garden in bloom they will be inspired to plant their own host plants in their own yards and help to increase butterfly populations in the area.” Last year Deb reared more than 1,000 butterflies and about 500 were Monarchs. The Monarchs are a butterfly species suffering from massive population decrease due to loss of habitat and are a conservation priority for the Department of Conservation and Recreation.
Deb and Keep Suffolk Beautiful are inviting people of all ages to come out and see the garden in its infancy and learn about the wonderful world of butterflies. Suffolk Public Libraries and the Suffolk Art Gallery will be joining us to celebrate the garden and Earth Day with story-time, arts and crafts and an amazing face painter. We also have free tickets to give away to the Virginia Beach Aquarium, the Virginia Zoo and the Virginia Living Museum. The opening is from 11am to 1pm on April 23rd at Bennetts Creek Park. Please come out and have an enjoyable two hours in the park for Earth Day.
Blog post contributed by Wayne Jones, Litter Control Coordinator with the City of Suffolk.
Coleridge’s poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner brings to mind a tale of horror where the boat is surrounded by water, but “not a drop to drink.” The truth is that this natural resource is recycled endlessly, but there is no “new” water. What we have is all that we have. Much knowledge, science and skill goes into maintaining our water world for human use and consumption. So, continuing to protect the sources and treatment processes is truly essential to our lives. We can’t do without it.