(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA)–The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) announced today that it will honor Virginia Wesleyan University (VWU) in Virginia Beach for its leadership and commitment to educating the next generation of Chesapeake Bay leaders. CBF President Will Baker will present the Conservationist of the Year award to VWU President Scott Miller on Monday, February 26, at the third-annual DC on the Half Shell gala in Washington, D.C.
"Now more than ever we need sound leadership to save the Chesapeake Bay and our natural world,” Baker said. "From our earliest days, we at CBF understood we must help students appreciate the wonders of the Bay and become our future environmental stewards. Virginia Wesleyan University has become preeminent in that effort.”
CBF will also award Washington College with the Conservationist of the Year award at DC on the Half Shell.
VWU is emphasizing growing its environmental education program. In 2017 the University celebrated the opening of the Greer Environmental Sciences Center, a 44,000-square-foot sustainable building dedicated to learning and research. It features indoor and outdoor classrooms and teaching and research laboratories, including the Chesapeake Bay Aquatics Center. Energy is produced by the building's solar panels. Nearly 60 different plant species, including trees, shrubs, groundcover, ferns, perennials, and aquatic plants, are grown in its greenhouse and research gardens. The site's constructed wetlands and extensive green roof prevent polluted runoff from harming the Chesapeake Bay.
Located near the mouth of the Bay, Virginia Wesleyan University also uses the waterways around Hampton Roads as living classrooms. For example, students across disciplines conduct fieldwork on the Ocean Explorer, a 45-foot research vessel jointly owned by VWU and the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center. Onboard the boat they collect data on marine organisms, collect and test water samples, and undertake other research.
Over the years, CBF has worked with VWU on a number of initiatives, including scientific data collection, oyster restoration, and invasive species removal. The University is also a member of Virginia's No Child Left Inside Coalition, a collaborative effort between organizations to promote outdoor learning.
CBF is marking its 50th year of working to Save the Bay. DC on the Half Shell is a celebration of the Chesapeake Bay, called a National Treasure by President Ronald Reagan. The event will be held at 6:30 pm at Dock5 at Union Market. It will feature gourmet Bay cuisine, cocktails, live entertainment, and oysters galore. Co-chairs of the event are and Kay and David Kaufman and Wendy and Larry Culp. Major sponsors include Jane P. Batten and Kaiser Permanente.
All proceeds from the event support CBF's own award-winning environmental education and habitat restoration programs. CBF takes 35,000 students, teachers, and principals per year on field experiences of hands-on learning and critical analysis. CBF also engages thousands of volunteers in raising oysters, restoring oyster habitat, restoring underwater grass beds, and restoring forested buffers.