In March, 16 administrators and teachers from the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula joined FOR for a Professional Development Retreat at Marriott Ranch in Fauquier County. The participants traveled from Middlesex, Essex, and King George counties to immerse themselves in the restoration science, environmental education, and best management practices that the headwaters illustrate so well. FOR staff partnered with John Marshall Soil and Water Conservation District and Marriott Ranch to provide an enriching experience. From the hospitality of the ranch to the real world issue role-play activity to the hands-on restoration work, this was a well-rounded workshop that teachers really enjoyed!

FOR Education Director Daria Christian and I have been perfecting this professional development for the past three years through funding from NOAA B-WET. It is something we are extremely proud of because of the melding we have done with both of our childhoods. I have had the privilege of connecting success of the tidal region to the success of the headwaters, and Daria loves bringing teachers from the tidal region to her “neck of the woods.”

The beauty of this program is bringing the teachers from the tidal section up to the headwaters to show them what we may never be able to show students (due to a five hour bus ride) and provide them with experiences that can be approached in the classroom. For me, this experience takes me back to vacations to the mountains with my parents and a watershed-wide trip with the Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School where we traveled the entire watershed to track its changes. Although I love our vast tidal river, it brings me so much joy to show teachers how small the Rappahannock is, even in Fauquier County. I gained a better understanding of how the watershed connected once I saw it and believe that those who have participated in this experience have been able to do the same.

By Lowery Becker, Education Coordinator