(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA)—James Hemphill, a 16-year-old sophomore at Ocean Lakes High School in Virginia Beach, has received the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's (CBF) 2013 Student Leadership Award for his outstanding conservation work in school and the community.
The award, which includes a $500 check to continue his clean-water stewardship projects, was presented by CBF Education Vice President Don Baugh Saturday, June 1, during Clean the Bay Day activities at First Landing State Park.
"James is an exceptional community leader with a true passion for clean water and environmental stewardship," Baugh said. "CBF has known and worked with him for many years, and I am tremendously pleased to recognize his excellent leadership and community conservation work by presenting him with our 2013 Student Leadership Award."
James participated in the first of several CBF field experience as a sixth-grader and credits the trip with instilling a commitment to environmental activism. Shortly after that trip, he started a small stream cleanup and monitoring project with 10 volunteers to restore Thalia Creek near his school. Under his three-year leadership, the project removed 347 bags of litter and debris from the creek, installed bird houses, removed invasive species, and began installation of an osprey nesting pole.
He later founded and is current president of Project Green Teens, a group of environmentally concerned students in Virginia Beach who conduct cleanups and perform environmental audits of area schools and parks. He serves as student representative on Virginia Beach's steering committee for sustainability and for Earth Day planning and is currently working on a campaign to ban plastic bags in the city to decrease litter.
Last year, he received the 2012 Junior Ocean Hero Award from Oceana, the largest international organization focused on ocean conservation.
James has been a regular participant of CBF summer student leadership programs, currently serves as a CBF student mentor, and has been a speaker and panelist at CBF environmental education conferences. He is the son of Geoff and Tracy Hemphill of Virginia Beach.