Tag Archives: Rappahannock River

History on the Go: Making history come alive in our schools

Virginia is steeped in history, much of it originating in the Northern Neck. Yet the reality of our locals schools means bare-bones budgets, and few or no field trips for students to learn about and explore the myriad historic venues right here in their back yards.

web_S4pictures-3413Enter History on the Go. This local program provides regional elementary and middle school students an overview of some of the great educational resources available to them within the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula.

Collaborating cultural institutions develop presentations and coordinate with the schools for an immersion event.  Five or six stations are set up in the school gymnasium or auditorium. Each class rotates around the room to visit every station, spending 15 minutes learning about, and participating in, a different activity related to that particular site.

On December 4th participating organizations brought their messages to Richmond County Elementary 4th and 5th graders. A whopping 176 students shared in these programs:

Belle Isle State ParkAnimal Adaptations. This station exhibited various animal skins and casts of various footprints. Students learned about living and hunting habits of native species in this region.

Mary Ball Washington Museum and Library – 18th century school, reading and writing. Students discussed a one room classroom environment, using a replica of a classroom.  The students practiced writing on slates and used a quill pen on paper. Discipline and games were also discussed.

Middlesex Museum and Historical SocietyHistorical documents and court web_S4pictures-3411cases. Students reviewed copies of original court records re slaves, property and possessions, and insurance documents and discussed the importantance of record keeping.

Reedville Fisherman Museum – Life cycle and history of oysters and watermen. Showed live oysters and discussed the body makeup (heart, how they breathe, etc.) Students use tongs to transfer oysters and discussed the work of the local watermen.

Richmond County Museum – Indian exhibit and pictograghs. Pointed out the living habits and clothing, medicine, diet, use of tools of Virginia’s indigenous peoples.

Menokin Foundation – Maps and Watershed. Menokin’s Education Coordinator Alice French, and intern Allie Lyth, introduced the word and concept of conservation. Students got a brief history of Francis Lightfoot Lee and how Menokin is using historic conservation in preserving his house.

web_S4pictures-3386They also learned about Menokin’s environmental conservation practices and got to compare a variety of maps,* learning about the types of information these different kinds of maps give us. They then looked at our site and surrounding sites showing the entire Northern Neck in its Rappahannock River Watershed.

*Maps
Captain John Smithʼs early maps of Virginia
Topographic contour maps
Aerial maps
Road maps
Waterway mapsMenokin’s Activity involved studying a map of waterways and locating the headwaters, the tributaries, and the mainstream, and connecting the ends of the river to identify the watershed. The students then became a human

watershed and passed water down through it, learning how water moves within a watershed, that everything surrounding a river affects our water, and that we all use the same water over and over, and that is why conservation is so important.

By participating in programs like History on the Go, Menokin continues to focus and act on its mission to provide educational and cultural opportunities to our regional communities and beyond.

Exploring The Watershed Through Art

web_Complete-MuralThe students of Mrs. Ptucha’s 6th-grade science classes at Richmond County Intermediate School had the opportunity to dive into the Chesapeake Bay Watershed recently – with paint and brushes. The students participated in a Project WET activity, Make-a-Mural.

They created a mural depicting various aspects of the Northern Neck watershed area, including its landscape, people, cultures, and natural residents – both plant and animal.

The objective of the project was for the students to define the term watershed;web_mural-painting identify their local watershed and illustrate it, including water resource issues within it.

Using resource information such as an Enviroscape of Menokin and Watershed Maps, and a diagram of the main components of a watershed (Air, Land, Water, People & Transportation, Architecture, History and Tradition) the students listed examples of each category that are included in their local watershed.

web_watershed-map

Lastly they studied History & Traditions: what are ways resources have been used in the past that are different from how they are used today? Using the example of Menokin’s cultures and traditions, these ideas were discussed:

  • The biggest influence on the watershed can be understood through the categories of People and Traditions.
  • Menokin’s people begin with the Rappahannock Indian Tribes, Francis Lightfoot Lee and subsequent owners, including the current Menokin Foundation.
  • The Land and its use has changed some over time. Originally used mostly for farming and grazing, most of the land is now under a conservation easement and only a small portion is cultivated.
  • The Menokin Foundation is now developing the site as an educational and cultural center with a focus on historic and environmental education. As a result, more buildings may be added to the landscape to accommodate these goals. There are also plans to further develop the trail system for visitors use. In doing so, what sort of BMPs (best management practices) should need to be considered for each area of the watershed?

With all of this new-found knowledge and food for thought swirling in their heads, web_paint-and-brushesthe students were then asked to begin on the mural. Using foam core panels, and acrylic paint, each student worked on designated portions of the watershed – air, land and water.

As you can see from the finished mural above, the results are outstanding. Using color and expression in a way only children can master, the finished product is a true work of art web_kids-paintingand is hanging in the hallway at the school.

Funding for the A River Runs Through Us Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience was provided by the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

Programming funds were also made possible from a generous environmental grant from the Dominion Foundation.

The program was coordinated by TREE (Three Rivers Environmental Educators) and Alice French, Education and Outreach Coordinator at The Menokin Foundation. This was the first of several programs developed by TREE for Richmond County School and their STEM initiative.

Three Northern Neck Organizations Receive $10,000 Environmental Grants From The Dominion Foundation

The Menokin Foundation, the Northern Neck Land Conservancy and Stratford Hall, all located in Northern Neck, have each received a $10,000 grant from The Dominion Foundation to support their environmental projects. The Foundation is the charitable arm of Dominion Resources and the parent company of Dominion Virginia Power.

The Menokin Foundation and the Northern Neck Land Conservancy’s programs focus primarily on the Cat Point Creek watershed—one of the most pristine examples of tidal freshwater systems remaining in the Chesapeake Bay region and the entire East Coast, according to the Nature Conservancy—while Stratford Hall’s project enhances the nature trail experience on its 1,900 acre property in Westmoreland County.

“Providing grants for environmental projects is one of the mainstays of our corporate giving program,” said Paul D. Koonce, chief executive officer of Dominion Virginia Power. “We know supplying electric power affects our world, so we focus on obeying environmental laws and regulations, operating our units efficiently, and giving back to our communities.” Grants are funded from corporate profits, not customer bills.

The Menokin Foundation will apply the Dominion grant funding to develop and implement its Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences Program.  The program is centered at Menokin’s 500-acre site in Richmond County along Cat Point Creek.  Targeted to students in grades 6-8 in the region, the program meets the need for off-campus trips and field investigation offered at no charge to the schools.

“The Menokin Foundation is so pleased to receive this generous grant,” explained Executive Director, Sarah D. Pope. “The objective of our program is to connect students to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed through their shared sense of responsibility and action.”

The Northern Neck Land Conservancy’s grant goes towards their outreach efforts to the community about land conservation needs, particularly in the Cat Point Creek watershed.

Jamie Tucker, Executive Director of the Northern Neck Land Conservancy (NNLC) stated, “Funds from the Dominion Foundation allows the NNLC to provide educational activities and public presentations to our local community such as a guided canoe trip on Cat Point Creek by a local botanist, planned for June 29.  The upcoming Boots & BBQ public event at Naylor’s Beach on September 15 will feature information about protecting the land and wildlife around Cat Point Creek.”

Stratford Hall plans to use this funding towards providing a new nature trail experience for its visitors.

“We are pleased that The Dominion Foundation has recognized the importance of Stratford’s nature trails through awarding of this grant,” said Paul Reber, Executive Director. “As we seek to upgrade our nature trails, provide our visitors with new maps and signage, this grant is a significant step toward accomplishing our goal.”

Stratford’s six nature trails on the 1,900-acre property span from the historic area around the Great House down to the beach on the Potomac River. They include the Spring House, Vault, Little Meadow, Silver Beech, Mill Overlook and Mill Pond Trails. The trails serve as a natural resource for leisure and education and are used by a growing number of visitors.

Dozens of environmental groups in Virginia will share $500,000 in grants this year from the Foundation to preserve wetlands, plant trees, monitor water quality and more. The first wave of grants – $275,000 –was awarded in April 2013 to 17 organizations.

A complete listing of recipients is available at https://www/dom.com/about/community/pdf/spring-2013-env-grants-awarded.pdf.

Dominion (NYSE: D) is one of the nation’s largest producers and transporters of energy, with a portfolio of approximately 27,000 megawatts of generation 11,000 miles of natural gas transmission, gathering and storage pipeline and 6,400 miles of electric transmission lines.  Dominion operates one of the nation’s largest natural gas storage systems with 947 billion cubic feet of storage capacity and serves retail energy customers in 15 states. For more information about Dominion, visit the company’s website at http://www.dom.com.

For more information about each of the three grant recipient organizations, visit:

www.menokin.org
www.nnlc.org
www.stratfordhall.org

A Match Made in Heaven – Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School and Menokin

In spite of the pristine scenery and recreation – not to mention the tranquil lifestyle afforded by living on the Northern Neck – this geographical area, along with the Middle Peninsula counties across the Rappahannock River are under-served in many ways.

The rural, agrarian economy means incomes – and tax revenues – are lower than the national average. Schools are not fancy, and faculty and students alike struggle with the dichotomy of gaining a quality education with very limited resources.

Therefore, we are very fortunate to have an excellent community college system, Rappahannock Community College, with three campuses in the region; one of those is right here in Warsaw. These campuses are also home to an academically  challenging program for high school students called The Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School (CBGS).

The Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School for Marine and Environmental Science provides high-ability students from the Northern Neck and the Middle Peninsula with a rigorous curriculum through enrichment, exploratory, investigative, and career awareness experiences. Through the integration of math, science, technology, and research, woven with marine and environmental sciences, students have the opportunity to foster an appreciation and respect for environmental issues.

CBGS provides a community of learners the opportunity to explore connections among the environment, math, science, and technology in order to help develop leaders who possess the research and technical skills, global perspective, and vision needed to address the challenges of a rapidly changing society.

And here sits Menokin, ten minutes from the Warsaw campus, in the middle of a wildlife refuge and with access to Cat Point Creek, one of the most undisturbed tributaries of the Rappahannock. We are a 500-acre classroom teeming with opportunities for research, exploration, inspiration and education of all things Marine and Environmental.

It is, obviously, a match made in heaven. And the courtship began in earnest in early November when the CBGS sophomore class from the Warsaw Campus came for an introductory field trip. Instructors Jim Beam (no, I’m not making it up), Daniel Maxey and Bethany Smith lead their eager students through the property to snatch up as much of the experience as possible during their brief stay. With field notebooks in hand, students scribbled notes about archaeology, geology, flora, fauna and conservation. Brain’s churned with ideas for senior projects that will be serious business in the not-too-distant future.

We look forward to continuing our relationship with CBGS students and teachers, and encourage all with the same passion for learning to take advantage of the resources here at Menokin.

No wild weather for this year’s “Go Wild” event

Yesterday was the 2nd annual “Go Wild” event at the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge’s Hutchinson Tract in Essex County, VA.

After the cold, windy, rainy day that greeted last year’s eventers, the clear blue October sky and 75+ degree temperatures were a welcome change.

The wind still  had a few tricks up her sleeve, however,  and there were examples of human ingenuity all over the place as exhibitors tried to hold down tents, brochures and displays. My husband Ben, the master of all things rigged, “Bengineered” this bungee bracing system to keep the Menokin display board upright and in place.

I was there representing Menokin, and informing visitors about our nature trails and waterfront on Cat Point Creek, and explaining that 300 of our 500 acres are, in fact, part of the refuge.

There were all kinds of exhibitors on hand – from Native Plants Societies, Master Naturalist and Oyster Gardeners, to bluebird house building, reforestation surveyors and wildlife rehabilitation experts.

Our booth was next door to The Wildlife Center of Virginia, where their educator and handler, Rayna, brought out a series of rehabilitated birds to share with the public. You can find out these birds stories on their website.

Grayson, a broad-winged hawk, gave me the stare down.
Edie, an American Kestrel, is very comfortable with humans.

The Raptor Society of Virginia was also on hand with a few of their birds. This little screech owl won me over with her big green eyes and haughty, knowing air.

Fire, an Eastern screech owl

Congressman Rob Whitman spoke briefly, after being introduced by Refuge Administrator Andy Hoffman and RRVNWR Friends President, Anne Graziano.

Rob Whitman addressed the crowd
Andy Hoffman and Anne Graziano both spoke

Menokin Receives Grant From National Park Service

The Menokin Foundation is pleased to announce that it has received $70,000 in grant money from the NPS to initiate planning and design for two public access points on Cat Point Creek at Menokin.

“We are excited to be able to begin the process of making Cat Point Creek more accessible to the public,” says Sarah Pope, Executive Director at Menokin, “And hope that the research performed during this planning phase will also help us to better understand the intricate story of the Menokin landscape.”

Looking up Cat Point Creek toward Menokin Bay.

The National Park Service (NPS) Chesapeake Bay Office announced on September 5, 2012 that the NPS is providing financial assistance to 21 partners and 24 projects with a combined financial commitment of $1,363,039. These projects with 21 partners in fiscal year 2012 address education, youth employment and stewardship programs, and public access and trail development in the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network and along the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail and the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. Each project is leveraged through additional means such as matching funds, in-kind services, and volunteer hours.

In collaboration with many partners, the National Park Service works to expand public access to the Chesapeake Bay and tributary rivers, build visitor experiences along two national historic trails, develop teacher resources in line with state standards, and expand service and employment opportunities for youth. “Through partner engagement and participation, each of these projects has a positive impact in local communities,” said NPS Superintendent John Maounis. “Whether teaching the history of these places, introducing young people to possible career paths, or providing a new place to get to the water, these are investments in quality of life.”

The Chesapeake Bay Office of the National Park Service administers the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network of partner sites, and also manages two of the nation’s nineteen national historic trails. Both trails are comprised of land and water routes accessible through partner sites, are in active stages of development, and offer opportunities for educators and students that are both virtual and place-based. Educational programming, training in stewardship and outdoor recreation skills, and youth employment opportunities all contribute to trail development.

Trail development and youth engagement projects also advance public access goals set through the Strategy for Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, the federal response to President Obama’s Executive Order 13508. The strategy and subsequent draft public access plan call for the addition of 300 new sites where citizens can have a waterside experience, whether hiking, paddling, enjoying a picnic, or fishing.

Project summaries can be accessed through http://www.baygateways.net/viewrelease.cfm?press_release_id=297

Go Wild!

Over half of the Menokin Foundation’s 500 acre property is part of the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The extremely active and dedicated Rappahannock Wildlife Refuge Friends would like to invite you to participate in their annual Go Wild! event on Sunday, October 14th1-5 p.m.

This year’s event celebrates the 16th Anniversary of the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge with the Rappahannock Wildlife Refuge FRIENDS. 

The event takes place at the Hutchinson Tract, 1.5 mi. north of Tappahannock off Highway 17N, and includes numerous activities including a silent auction, kayak trips, a guided eagle tour, beach jewelry, pistol lessons from Romi Klear, signed prints, rain barrels, books, and more! Please note: the silent auction closes at 4 p.m.

Events:  Kids “Birds and BinocularImages” scavenger hunt, adults and young adults scavenger hunt, nature walks, arts and crafts, storytelling, wildlife painting, build a birdhouse, free raffles.  Music by Ben Eberline.

FREE LUNCH!  Hot dogs, baked beans, cookies, cider and lemonade.

For more information, call 804-366-6851.

Sunday, October 14th, 10 a.m. – 12 noon – Guided kayak/canoe tour led by Gordon Page at the Mt. Landing Creek kayak/canoe launch on the Hutchinson tract of the Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge, 1.5 mi. north of Tappahannock off Highway 17N. Bring your own kayak or canoe.  Must wear life vest.  For more information, call 804-366-6851.