VCU Rice Center receives grant from Altria
The VCU Rice Center has received a grant from Altria to fund an innovative program to provide an educational experience for park visitors and local school systems that is focused on the ecology of the James River. The initial project will focus on four aspects of the river: 1) the geology of the river, especially as it relates to water quality and river ecology; 2) anadromous fish migration in the river; 3) bioassessment of the river’s water quality using fish and insects; and 4) the many rock pools in the river and their associated biological communities. Signage relating to these four focal areas will be developed and installed at strategic points within the park. Self-guided exploratory activities will be downloadable to smart phones via an interactive map app at park kiosks. The programs and information developed will provide park visitors with multiple hands-on learning experiences and material on water resources and river ecology by merging scientific information with curricular material, podcasts and community outdoor explorations of the James River Park. Additionally, podcasts of the lecture series, resource materials and the developed curricula will be made available on the Web, allowing dissemination of the materials to a broad audience of viewers. The materials developed will function as educational resources and field experiences for environmental educators, natural resource personnel, and local and regional school systems, with a focus on a variety of disciplines correlated to the Virginia SOLs (Standards of Learning). In addition to developing the educational material, scientists from the VCU Rice Center will give lectures and lead workshops for the public that highlight water quality and river ecology. The overall program thus will serve the diverse Richmond community and the many regional, national and worldwide users of the Park, which estimates having nearly one million visitors per year.