R-H Ecology students accept Governor’s Challenge

Published 4:04 pm Wednesday, June 22, 2016

On April 15, Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed an executive order to establish the Virginia Environmental Literacy Challenge. Through this challenge, teachers were encouraged to provide outdoor field experiences and projects that would engage students and increase their understanding of the environment.

According to McAuliffe, “We need to make sure that our students are graduating with the skills and knowledge they need to protect Virginia’s natural resources.” The governor’s executive order is a voluntary challenge designed to “recognize and highlight the efforts of classroom teachers and school divisions that go above and beyond in the teaching of environmental literacy.” 

This spring, teachers Erin Davis and Pam Dunnavant decided to accept the governor’s challenge by bringing meaningful experiences to their ecology classes. Students participated in a variety of investigations involving various freshwater resources, such as the pond located on the Randolph-Henry Land Lab, the stream at Drakes Branch and the James River. During each lab, physical, biological and chemical data were collected such as temperature, PH, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, phosphorus and other nutrient levels.

Students also caught organisms in nets and trawls to analyze the amount of biodiversity.

The Drakes Branch lab was led by the Southside Soil and Water Conservation office, which made a follow-up visit to the school to inform students about sources of freshwater pollution as well as potential solutions.

In addition to all of their work, the ecology classes have been operating a weekly recycling program that has contributed approximately 2,883.67 pounds of recyclables to the Charlotte County Recycling facility this semester. As a result of their efforts, both Dunnavant’s and Davis’ ecology classes were awarded a certificate from the governor for meeting his Environmental Literacy Challenge.