Student Fellows Take the Lead
|Norfolk Academy Chesapeake Bay Fellows learned firsthand about water quality issues in the Chesapeake Bay.|
For a second summer in a row, five incoming 9th grade students from Norfolk Academy started a journey with CBF in their backyard and ended in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay.
Each one of these Bay Fellows brought new and different insights to the experience; and each fellow was able to take a valuable lesson and lots of good memories home with him/her. This course was set up to teach what students can do to be environmental leaders in their own community. Though defining the word "leader" may have been the first step, the traits that students picked up though hands-on environmental experiences are what really began to define each student as a true leader.
The adventure began at the bottom of our watershed in Virginia Beach, a place which is vastly overlooked as the "last stop" or the drain for all of our riverine and marine systems which lead into the Bay. Chris Nelson, a Norfolk Academy teacher, kept circling back to this fact and how very important it is to keep our rivers healthy. He pointed out that every citizen needs to start reversing the effects of pollution, which are unfortunately so clear and evident as we see more beach closings, fish consumption warnings, and other restrictions on how we can interact with our waterways.
One effect pollution is having on the Virginia Beach area is an increased presence of mahogany tides. The group traveled by boat through some mahogany tides that were so thick at times you could feel the tickle it causes in your throat while slicing through the colored top layer on the water. Students saw firsthand that nutrient pollution is the biggest problem in the Bay. It is right here under our boats! But students also learned that we have the power to change that. Approaches like the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint outline steps that our communities and our legislators can take to improve our watershed's health.
Throughout the five days with these five remarkable students, the group gained an extensive amount of knowledge, not only about the Bay, but also about themselves. From setting up tents to filleting a fish for the first time to seeing the amazing biodiversity that the Bay holds, CBF educators shared a new, deep passion for the Chesapeake Bay that can only by found by living, breathing, even eating from it. Every student saw how leadership played a main role on our voyage. The truth is that each one of these Bay Fellows are already true leaders. What this experience has equipped them with is the knowledge and the courage to stand up and speak out for a cleaner Chesapeake Bay.