Virginia Naturally News
News you can use!November 2013
In This Issue
Tamra Willis Recognized with the "Otter Award"
The Transformation of Buckingham Primary & Elementary Schools
Virginia Releases the 2012 Recycling Rate
New Resources
Awards and Recognitions
Professional Development
Do You have a Video of a MWEE?
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Professional Development 


Virginia Naturally Calendar of Events

Tamra Willis Recognized with the "Otter Award"


Dr. Tamra Willis, program director for Environment Based Learning (EBL) an  d associate professor in the Graduate Teacher Education Program at Mary Baldwin College, received the Virginia Resource-Use Education Council's (VRUEC) Environmental Education Award, The Otter, at Virginia's annual Environmental Education Conference in Orkney Springs, Va, on Oct. 17. The Otter is awarded to an outstanding Virginian who has made major contributions to promoting public knowledge and understanding of natural resources in the Commonwealth. The award is given to a person who has demonstrated state and/or regional leadership in fostering working relationships and programs that benefit the educators and students of Virginia.  

Dr. Willis has been an inspiration to environmental educators in Virginia for 25 years. She began her career as an elementary classroom teacher, taking her students outside and into the environment whenever possible. Today, she directs the Master of Education (M.Ed.) Environment-Based Learning Program at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton. Through the exemplary courses offered in the M.Ed. program, she ensures that the next generation of teachers who participate in the program will take their students outdoors and encourage the exploration of the world around them. She is responsible for helping to bring the strategy of using the Environment as an Integrating Context (EIC) to Virginia by leading a grant project with five elementary schools. She is an active partner in the Shenandoah Valley Environmental Education Alliance and serves as the Policy Co-chair for VRUEC. Tamra is co-editor of the Natural Teachers Network, the newsletter for the Children and Nature Network. Her efforts in the environmental community have been sustained and have had a significant impact on environmental education in Virginia.

The Virginia Resource Use Education Council is delighted to honor Dr. Willis for her lifelong commitment to the environment and to Virginia's educators and students.  

The Flora and Fauna of Virginia Environmental Education Conference
 The 2013 environmental education conference was held at Shrine Mont in Orkney Springs Oct.16 - 18.  There were 88 attendees. Keynote speaker Chris Ludwig, chief biologist with the Departmetn of Conservation and Recreation, spoke about the Flora of Virginia Project. Local nature writer and author Chris Bolgiano talked about her frack-finding weekend in West Virginia. There were over 30 concurrent sessions to choose from and field trips and workshops were offered on Friday. The highlight of the conference was a cultural presentation given by the McKenzies. 
Virginia Master Naturalist Statewide Conference

The Virginia Master Naturalist conference was held Oct.18 - 20 at the Wyndham in Glen Allen. Over 200 people from across the Commonwealth attended. Attendees choose two three-hour concurrent sessions to participate in on Saturday. On Sunday three-hour outdoor sessions and a volunteer project were held at Pocahontas State Park.
The 2014 VMN Conference will be at the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News Sept. 26 - 28.
2014 Environmental Education and the Area National Science Teachers Association to merge conferences
Virginia Environmental Educators and the National Science Teachers Association will hold a joint conference at the Richmond Convention Center Oct.16 - 18, 2014. The theme of the conference is Celebrate Science Inside & Out!  EE proposals may be sent to NSTA to be reviewed and included in one of their conference strands, or they may be submitted to the Virginia Office of Environmental Education as part of the "Get Your Nature On" thread for environmental educators. The three conference strands are (1) Watershed Science: Learning Inside and Out, (2) Partnerships and Collaborations: Learning Inside and Out, and (3) Integrating Science With Other Disciplines: Learning Inside and Out. The deadline for submitting a proposal to NSTA for the conference is Jan. 15, 2014. The deadline to submit a proposal to the VOEE is Jan. 27. Additional information will appear on the NSTA and the Virginia Naturally websites as information becomes available.
The Transformation of Buckingham Primary & Elementary School

The schools were built in the mid-20th century but have been transformed into facilities that promote modern ideas of sustainability, outdoor classrooms, ergonomics, and health. Click here to read about the schools and see a slide show about what makes these schools extraordinary.  
Virginia Releases the 2012 Recycling Rate

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality announced that the 2012 recycling rate in Virginia was 41.5 percent. This is the third consecutive year that the Commonwealth has exceeded a 40 percent recycling rate.
New Resources

James River Parks in Richmond now offers "Science in the Parks." Learn about geology, rock pools, and the flora and fauna that live in the park.


Explore the Moon with NASA Scientists
Students gain real-world experience while conducting authentic scientific research on a NASA mission project, all from the comforts of your classroom.   
Environmental Education Regional Teams

Regional Environmental Education Teams continue to do good work across the Commonwealth. New teams are now organized in the Greater Richmond area, Southern Virginia corridor, and New River Valley.

Awards and Recognitions

2014 Project Learning Tree Virginia Outstanding Educator Awards Call for Nominations

All nominations are due by the close of business on Friday, Nov. 15, 2013 to Lisa Deaton, PLT State Coordinator, Virginia Department of Forestry.


Thomas Jefferson Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Natural Science Education


This award will be given to a Virginia educator who has made significant contributions to natural history or natural science education at any academic level. Nominations must be received no later than Nov. 29, 2013. The award will be presented during a special ceremony on March 20, 2014 at the Virginia Museum of Natural History. 


Governor's Excellence Awards
The two award categories for the Governor's Excellence Awards are Sustainability and Land Conservation. The Sustainability award replaces the environmental program and environmental project categories used prior to 2013. The deadline to apply is Dec. 6. 

Professional Development 
1st Annual Virginia Green Conference - Dec. 3 - 4 in Virginia Beach.
Winter Wildlife Festival  - January 24 - 26 in Virginia Beach. Registration opens Nov. 15.
Energy and Sustainability Conference - February 14 - 15 in Richmond.
National Association of Interpreters Chesapeake Region II Workshop- March 11 - 14, 2014 at Westmoreland State Park in Westmoreland County, Va. Registration is now open.
Environment Virginia Symposium - April 8 - 10, 1014 in Lexington. Registration is now open.
Do you have a video of a MWEE?

The Chesapeake Bay Program is looking for anyone who has participated in Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences to submit a video about their project. If chosen, your video will be shown to state, regional, and national leaders in the field of environmental education at the Chesapeake Bay Program's Environmental Education Summit on Dec. 2-3, 2013. The deadline for your video to be received is Nov.15.                                       




Sheila Mary Barnett
Environmental Educator
Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation
600 E. Main St., 24th Floor
Richmond, VA 23219

Phone: (804) 786-1815
Fax: (804) 371-2072