Our Virginia: Impact Report 2019
Conservation successes from across the commonwealth.
FROM THE DIRECTOR
Thanks to you!
As a supporter of The Nature Conservancy in Virginia, you are a vital part of every success we achieve. For almost 60 years, loyal supporters like you have enabled us to build our team and produce lasting benefits for people and nature.
This year, building on this foundation, we completed one of TNC’s largest-ever conservation deals in the eastern United States. The new Cumberland Forest Project acquired a quarter-million acres of working forests in the Central Appalachian Mountains. Larger than Shenandoah and Acadia national parks combined, the property encompasses 153,000 acres in Southwest Virginia and another 100,000 acres spanning the Tennessee-Kentucky line.
A big deal by any measure, the Cumberland Forest Project epitomizes innovation by harnessing the power of private impact investment to pay for conservation. By highlighting the many ways that conservation pays off, including returns for conservation minded investors, the project helps change the way people value nature.
Putting private capital to work offers solutions to conservation challenges such as forest loss and climate change, and it produces myriad other benefits. The forest restoration we are undertaking will produce healthier, more resilient habitat and cleaner water. Local communities striving to revitalize formerly coal-dependent economies also will gain new opportunities to expand sustainable nature-based tourism.
I’m excited about TNC’s opportunity to demonstrate how innovative financing can help solve our most urgent environmental challenges and shape the future of the entire Central Appalachians.
Thank you for your support in fostering a world where nature and people thrive together.
2019 Impact Report: What's Inside
Working with fire to benefit nature and people. Controlled burns are reducing wildfire risks and accelerating the restoration of healthy, resilient forests across many thousands of acres.
Along with bird song and wind, another sound is increasingly heard at TNC’s Brownsville Preserve: school buses rumbling down the unpaved lane to stop in front of VCR headquarters.
Shortly after filing off their bus, students don rubber boots, grab clipboards and march off toward the day’s first open-air “classroom.” Calling this hands-on learning would be an understatement. Fifth-graders, for example, follow TNC educator Jenny Miller into a marsh, where they will soon be digging fingers into the muck and employing their nostrils to hypothesize about its composition. Of course, they will also have access to an array of technical instruments to conduct soil and water tests and record their data.
“Brownsville is really an excellent demonstration preserve to talk about the variety of habitats we have on the Eastern Shore,” says Margaret Van Clief, VCR’s outreach and education coordinator. Van Clief adds that participation is growing, with six of seven local elementary schools completing programs at Brownsville during the most recent school year.
Van Clief anticipates hosting even more students, especially middle and high schoolers, over the coming year. High school biology students venture even farther afield, departing from Wachapreague by boat to spend a day studying Parramore Island, one of more than a dozen natural barrier islands protected by VCR.
Through their own excursions and workshops, teachers collaborate with TNC to develop the content of these field experiences and corresponding classroom instruction. This partnership ensures that our environmental science curriculum aligns with the Standards of Learning prescribed by Virginia’s Department of Education.
The program has no greater champion than Kiptopeke Elementary School Principal Subrina Parker, an Eastern Shore native and 30-year veteran educator with Northampton County Public Schools. “While I could have gone other places to teach, I value our rich culture here on the Shore, our natural environment,” Parker says.
Now she’s seeing that same passion developing in students as their eyes are opened to the wonders of the Virginia Coast Reserve. “When they get there and have those hands-on experiences, they want to go back again—and you do find them going back with their parents for other events,” says Parker.
“The kids are taking the lessons home, applying them and spreading them to their parents and others,” adds Miller. “Hopefully, in the future, they’ll be the ones helping to protect the Eastern Shore.” It’s a model TNC seeks to spread around the globe to help foster our next generation of conservation leaders.
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Nuestra Virginia: Informe de Impacto 2019
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Together we can find creative solutions to tackle our most complex conservation challenges and build a stronger future for people and nature. Will you help us continue this work?