In 2019, the James River Association was awarded a Chesapeake Bay Trust grant for Falling Creek Middle School students to visit our James River Ecology School on Presquile National Wildlife Refuge

The Ecology School is a joint venture with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Presquile National Wildlife Refuge, a 1,329 acre island in the James just south of Richmond, and is an incredible community asset, connecting students directly to the outdoors through river-based learning experiences. It is also the only environmental education center of its kind that is readily accessible to Richmond. Presquile offers a unique setting where students can conduct Virginia Standards of Learning-correlated investigations and study real-world applications of science and conservation. Students travel to and from the island aboard the James River Association pontoon boat, Spirit of the James.

For the majority of the students, this was their first trip on any type of boat. Students also had a chance to connect with nature while hiking through Presquile’s upland fields and forests and exploring a swamp habitat on the wetland boardwalk. Their favorite part of this trip was trolling the river for fish they were able to see up close and hold as they identified them for behavior and physical adaptations.

As the second day of education, the student participated in our Paint Out Pollution program, which is a partnership between the James River Association and Art On Wheels. The goal of this program is to increase public awareness of stormwater pollution and celebrate the native plant and animal species that call the James River home through storm drain art. Students use the stencils and spray paint to install art on storm drains across on stormwater drains around their schools.

Thank you Chesapeake Bay Trust for giving Falling Creek Middle School this amazing opportunity!