Sunday, May 22, 2022

James River Association receives new learning grant from National Park Foundation

(WYDaily/Courtesy of the James River Association)

NEWPORT NEWS — Thanks to a new hybrid grant, Open OutDoors for Kids Hybrid Learning from the National Park Foundation (NPF), the James River Association (JRA) will be able to engage every Newport News Public Schools sixth grade student with environmental lessons focused on the natural resources of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

JRA is one of 32 parks/park partners to receive this grant. NPS works with the park partner within the community to ensure that national parks reach their fullest potential and connect with as many people as possible. The full list of grantees can be found on NPF’s website by clicking here.

Katie Ferrell, JRA’s Lower James Senior Environmental Educator, said, “This funding has allowed us to create virtual lessons and virtual field experiences that engage students and teachers remotely in the beautiful Colonial National Historical Park in Jamestown, Virginia. During this Spring semester, JRA environmental educators created four different curriculum lessons (Watersheds, Wetlands, Living Shorelines, and Water Quality) that each met the Virginia SOL middle school standards, and each lesson was turned into a virtual trip with videos that help showcase the amazing NPS. JRA engaged approximately 1,066 students from 7 middle schools this spring.”

The possibilities for these new curriculum lessons don’t end there. The association plans to use the grant to reach out to students, regardless of ability, communication barriers, or socioeconomic background. The content of each lesson will focus on issues relevant to local watersheds of Newport News, which JRA describes as, “a city that struggles with negative environmental impacts on its already economically disadvantaged communities.”

“National parks are America’s largest classrooms, and the National Park Foundation is committed to helping students, teachers, and families navigate learning during the pandemic and beyond,” said National Park Foundation President and CEO, Will Shafroth.

“From green time to screen time to family time, the National Park Foundation is helping the National Park Service and parks community engage students with educational opportunities across the country,” Shafroth said.

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