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Education is a key to protecting river

Teaching young people to be good stewards of the Rappahannock River has been a core focus of the Friends of the Rappahannock for years.

The Fredericksburg-based river-protection group worked with 8,500 school students last year, said Daria Blom, FOR education director.

FOR educational programs address topics such as water quality, reducing pollution and runoff, and what homeowners can do to help keep the river clean.

All of this costs money, and FOR this week received $5,000 from the National Nursing Centers Consortium to expand its “Save the Crabs, Then eat ’Em” campaign along the tidal portion of the Rappahannock.

“We ask homeowners to pledge to not fertilize their lawns this spring, thereby keeping harmful nitrogen and phosphorus out of the river,” Blom said.

“This expansion includes working with middle and high school students to learn about water-quality issues and help promote the campaign.”

PNC Bank, meanwhile, has put up a $5,000 corporate sponsorship of FOR’s early-childhood science education programs.

“This program brings Fredericksburg Regional Head Start students and teachers to the river several times through the year to learn about their local environment,” Blom said.

One stop is typically Fredericksburg’s City Dock, where they can fish. For some, it’s the first time.

“Additionally, we are able to provide teacher-training workshops and valuable curriculum guides for other early-childhood educators,” Blom said, through a partnership with Smart Beginnings of the Rappahannock Area.

Another community education event sponsored by FOR is scheduled for March 23: the Wild and Scenic film Festival at Paragon Village 12 theater in Spotsylvania Towne Centre.

Blom says other local conservation groups will be on hand, as well.

“We have a lot of initiatives going on,” Blom said.

With spring break on the horizon, “we have alternative spring break programs for high school students, an internship program with [University of Mary Washington] students who present programs to kids in classrooms.” They also provide field guides and other resource materials for students in backpacks placed in school libraries.

Why so much effort for students?

“They are the future stewards” of the Rappahannock and its watershed. “We’re trying to encourage their environmental ethics at an early age and help them develop.”


WHO: Friends of the Rappahannock

WHAT: Wild and Scenic Film Festival

WHEN: Saturday, March 23, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

WHERE: Paragon Village 12 theater

DETAILS: A collection of short films meant to inspire action through films addressing energy, food systems, biodiversity and the protection and restoration of wild lands and waters. Tickets are $8 in advance; $10 at the theater. To order tickets in advance:

Rusty Dennen: 540/374-5431