It’s official! Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR), in partnership with Caroline County Public Schools (CCPS), Spotsylvania County Public Schools (SCPS), Tri-County City Soil and Water Conservation District, Virginia Cooperative Extension and Lake Anna State Park, were awarded a three year grant from NOAA to support growing Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) in our region. NOAA’s Bay Watershed Education and Training grant is very competitive, and we are very proud to have been selected this round.

A MWEE is an important education program designed to teach students about watersheds and human impacts on watersheds. What really sets the MWEE apart from other education programs is that it also requires students to complete an action project. For example, students build gardens, install rain barrels, plant trees or run educational campaigns in their communities. So, students learn about the issues and then take action to help mitigate the problem. It is a program that is focused on empowering the students. And, from our experiences implementing MWEEs over the years, it really works!  

A big part of this three year project is working with the teachers and administrators to help embed the MWEE into the curriculum. We will also create sustainability teams in each district to support long term implementation of the program. This is one approach to trying to create a sustainable program that will outlast the life of the grant. We hope to share this model across the state and help other school districts create a sustainable MWEE program for their schools.

So far this school year the MWEE program has already put over 100 students on the water in Port Royal, provided training for over 80 teachers and classroom lessons for over 600 students. It’s not even mid-September! Whew!

As always, these projects would not be possible without awesome partnerships! It really is great to work with natural resource professionals with such a collaborative spirit!

By Daria Christian, FOR Assistant Director and Education Director