Farm Field Days
In fiscal year 2016 the District was impacted by the County's redirection of funding from education to conservation activities. Among the District education programs is our signature annual event Farm Field Days. This extremely popular event annually introduces 1,600 fourth grade students to some of the basic functions of agriculture and natural resources conservation. Over the 29 year history of Farm Field Days the District has educated 28,246+ fourth grade students on agriculture, environmental science and natural resources conservation. This event is presented in the barns of Prince William fairgrounds, over a two day period, presented by 100+ community members, agency partners, high school students, and local farmers. The participating teachers, and hundreds of chaperones, are also educated by our hands-on activities and demonstrations. We invite you to join us October 16 and 17, 2019, our 30th anniversary! No experience necessary; there are many varied tasks and none of them require rocket science!
The District founded the Arbor Day program in Prince William County schools 30 years ago in cooperation with the Arbor Day Foundation. The Board of County Supervisors, City of Manassas Beautification Committee, City of Manassas schools and Prince William County schools participate in Arbor Day cermonies annually. Historically Arbor Day included a poster contest program which we participated in until the Arbor Day Foundation abandoned it in 2010. Our District directors, associate directors and staff attend the ceremonies and present the proclamation to the school principal. The second grade elementary school children participate in an Arbor Day tree ceremony at their schools. All elementary grade students are taught the great importance and value that trees bring to our communities. Tom Neil of American Home Landscape Company donated and planted a tree at eight schools every year for 25 years. Kudos to Mr. Neil for his generous donation of time, materials and trees that enhance the beauty of every school. We thank Quentin Hastings, Hastings Landscape, Nokesville, for providing our tree planting for the last two years.
Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE)
This program is Virginia Standards Of Learning based for third grade students to promote stewardship in the context of one's neighborhood and community. Carefully selected experiences, driven by academic learning standards engendering discovery and wonder, and nurturing a sense of community will further connect students with the watershed and help reinforce an ethic of responsible citizenship. Thirteen hundred students have participated in these programs since 2012. The students are excited to get their hands down into the soil, learn the substance of soil, the uses of soil, NO SOIL - NO FOOD, and about the human impact on soil and water. There is an action component for every MWEE for restoration, stabilization or protection projects. Check out this video on youtube.The Chesapeake Bay Restoration Foundation, License Plate Grant awarded the Foundation with $1,500 for two MWEE programs in fiscal year 2015. Four hundred third grade students will participate in MWEEs this spring. The programs will be conducted by District directors, associate directors, staff and volunteers. We invite you to volunteer for this great program. The students love this program. Training provided, no rocket science involved.
Battlefield High School Riparian Buffer Project
United Airlines launched its new Eco-Skies Community Grants program in order to empower United Airlines co-workers to make positive environmental contributions to the communities they serve. In 2013, the Prince William Environmental Excellence Foundation was awarded a grant for $5,000 for a riparian buffer planting project in cooperation with both United Airlines and Battlefield High School. A healthy stream ecosystem depends on how we manage the land around it, particularly the riparian zone which includes the stream channel, banks, and the surrounding floodplain. A riparian buffer consists of established trees, shrubs, and meadow vegetation within the riparian zone. Such a buffer, once established, provides functions to include filtering pollution, decreasing erosion along the stream banks, improving flood control, improving water quality, cooling waters, and increasing wildlfie habitat. This project took place on Catharpin Creek at Battlefield High School in Haymarket, and brought together partners: the Foundation, United Airlines, Prince William Trails and Streams Coalition, Earth Sangha, Ms. Thumser's Earth Science students at Battlefield High School, and volunteer employees of United Airlines. The finale of the project was completed with an in-service training for the teaching staff to explain the project and suggest ways the stream and riparian buffer can be utilized for teaching future high school students about environmental science and natural resources conservation. An information kiosk that explains the buffer project and how it protects natural resources was erected in cooperation with the school facility management office. The newly planted buffer area is used by the students for natural resources education. We will continue the conservation and education aspects of this project by starting a water monitoring component in coordination with the science classes and ecology clubs. Students could perform benthic organism monitoring on the creek in order to assess the health of the creek and its aquatic life communities over time. This project serves as a template for other county high schools with streams on their school property. View the youtube video for details.
Quantico Creek Water Monitoring Project
The Quantico Creek covers nearly 40 square miles and includes Dumfries, Quantico, Marine Corps Base Quantico, and Prince William Forest (National) Park in Prince William County. Land use within the Quantico Creek watershed is approximately 78% undeveloped land, 18% residential, and 4% commercial/industrial. Highly eroded banks and resulting sediment that chokes aquatic organisms is evidence of the pressures on this creek. Any new delvelopment will put more strain on the creek by creating more impervious surfaces that lead to increased water flow during storm events, causing more erosion. In addition, in 2006 a reach of Quantico Creek was listed as impaired for fecal coliform bacteria. These high counts of coliform can be due to sewer overlows, runoff from agricultural/livestock operations, pet waste, and wildlife. The Town of Dumfries has taken note of the problems in this creek. The Director of Public Works was approached by the District to begin looking into possible solutions to the bacteria impairment and a pilot project was formed. With the cooperation of the Deparment of Environmental Quality (DEQ), 4 sites were selected along the creek and volunteers began monitoring the creek for E.coli. Since June 2013, volunteers have conducted twice monthly coliscan monitoring and will continue. Data for the first year showed that in late summer and early fall there were elevated levels of bacteria, with a trend of increasing bacteria counts as the water flowed through the Town of Dumfries. Very high bacteria counts were also noted during storm events when water flow and turbidity were high. Pet waste and/or a leaking sewer/septic system are suspected culprits. The goal of this project is to assist the Town of Dumfries (through Coliscan Easy Gel testing) in finding trends to narrow their efforts in addressing the bacteria impairment of Quantico Creek.