(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA)—Celebrating the fulfillment of a long-term environmental vision, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) this month dedicated the Lester Education Pavilion at CBF's Brock Environmental Center. The pavilion serves as an outreach space for the community and an outdoor classroom for many of the approximately 3,000 Hampton Roads students who participate each year in CBF education programs at the Brock Center.
It is named after longtime Hampton Roads advocate Harry Lester, the first chairman of CBF's Board of Trustees from Virginia. Over a decade ago Lester brought CBF and local leaders together to form a vision for educating the community about our waterways and the environment. That spark led to the transformation of Pleasure House Point into a model for conservation, sustainability, and environmental education that has attracted visitors from around the world.
Ten years ago, Pleasure House Point's forests and marshes were threatened by development. Now this critical habitat near the mouth of the Lynnhaven River is being restored. The Brock Environmental Center has become one of the most environmentally smart buildings in the world. The site's trails and beaches are open for everyone to discover our unique coastal environment.
The naming of the pavilion came as a surprise to Lester, who is famously modest. Keeping it a secret, members of the community came together to contribute in honor of the Lester family's commitment to civic engagement and education. "We are so happy to give this long overdue recognition to Harry and his wife Calvert," said CBF President Will Baker. "They are two extraordinary individuals. The Lesters have done so much for the Chesapeake Bay and the community around them. Thanks to their leadership, we have an amazing resource in Hampton Roads for people to learn about our waters and the environment."
Harry Lester, who is also the co-founder of Lynnhaven River NOW, placed the focus on the next generation of environmental leaders in Virginia. "I am honored and humbled. It is more important than ever for today's students to spend time outdoors," he said. "When students come to the Brock Center, they learn how to protect what makes Hampton Roads special. Paddling with the tide, catching a crab, testing river water for pollution—it all creates a deep connection to the world around us."
These educational experiences typically include water quality testing, surveying local wildlife, and boat and canoe trips on the Lynnhaven River or hikes through the nearby maritime forest and marsh. Students and teachers who would like to take part in these amazing field experiences can find more information at cbf.org/education.