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GREEN LIVING BLOG Recognizes Two Hampton Roads Educators with Environmental Action Awards

COMMUNITY CENTERGreen EducationMar 20, 2018Rebekah Eastep

Author: Rebekah Eastep

L to R:
Vincent Jones, Deputy City Manager of Portsmouth
Portsmouth Mayor John Rowe
Teacher Michelle Effatt
(four former Cradock Middle School students involved in the project)
HRPDC Chair & Chesapeake City Council Member Ella Ward

L to R:
Chesapeake Deputy City Manager Robert Geis
Chesapeake City Manager James Baker
Art Teacher Gabrielle Toni
HRPDC Chair & Chesapeake City Council Member Ella Ward
Chesapeake City Council Member Roland Davis

Last week, recognized two local schools and educators for their commitment to environmental stewardship and leadership. Michelle Effatt, a former science teacher at Cradock Middle School in Portsmouth, and Gabrielle Toni, an art teacher at Western Branch Middle School in Chesapeake, each received the Environmental Action Award from on Thursday, March 15, 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 environmental education mini-grant program and were selected as outstanding by a panel of local representatives from the HRPDC’s 17 member jurisdictions and HRSD. The Cradock Middle School and Western Branch Middle School projects were among 13 projects under consideration for the award, all of which were funded by in 2017. In addition to the award, each school received a check for $100.00 to be spent to further their projects or to launch a new environmental initiative.


Craddock Middle School Community Care Project

Cradock Middle School was recognized for Effatt’s leadership of a community clean-up project. “Not only did this project provide the neighborhood with a little needed TLC, it encouraged students to become stakeholders in their environment,” said Katie Cullipher, team leader. “They partnered with the local Civic League and began to lift up the people around them with every piece of litter they removed.”

At Western Branch Middle School, Toni brought art and technology students together for an upcycling project to bring new life to some donated park benches. “This project was a unique fusion of art and technology,” said Cullipher. “After they refurbished the benches, the art students created unique designs to bring each one to life in a new way. It was a beautiful reminder that, with a little vision and some elbow grease, we can reduce our impact on the environment.”

One bench created by the Art in the Park project 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