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Research & Activities

Hull Springs Farm strives to engage the community-at-large by offering activities and workshops designed to express the interdisciplinary necessity for sustained conservation and land management.

A few examples of workshops and activities offered at Hull Springs Farm, include such topics as "Living Shoreline," rain barrel workshops, native plant walks and birding.


Living Shoreline

Living shorelines are an ecologically-minded alternative to traditional shoreline alterations, such as bulkheads, revetment and concrete seawalls.  Living shorelines utilize sills to contain sand beds, in which native marsh grasses are planted to stabilize the shore, absorb storm surges and create habitat for estuarine species.  Workshops will discuss the benefits, planning and methods of living shoreline implementation for interested community members.   

Learn more about Living Shoreline


Rain Barrels

Runoff from rain is a major cause of soil erosion and reduction in water quality. Rain barrels are designed to capture rain runoff from rooftops and store it for intended application to lawns or gardens. They are a great water source for simple household irrigation systems. Rain barrel workshops have been held in partnership with Clean Virginia Waterways, a leader in water conservation through rain barrel promotion.  The demonstrations focus on water conservation, how to prevent polluted runoff, and the benefits of rain barrels. You will learn how to install and maintain a rain barrel, and how to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.   The cost of materials is covered in the workshop registration fee.  


Native Plant Identification Walks

Berries at the Hull Springs Farm

The diverse habitats at Hull Springs Farm provide a unique opportunity to explore several different ecological communities. With the goal of hands-on engagement, exploratory walks can be catered to the academic or interest level of the group. The walk could range from a simple, pleasant, observatory stroll through the woods to a rigorous scientific sampling of species counts and biodiversity. A partnership is being forged between Hull Springs and the Northern Neck Master Naturalist organization in sharing knowledge of local plant communities, which could be directly passed down to the next generation.  


SOLstice—Summer of Learning: Science Teachers Investigating the Chesapeake Environment

SOLstice, an innovative program launched in 2011, brings together university faculty, practicing middle-school and upper elementary teachers and pre-service teachers (i.e., Longwood Liberal Studies students) to work collaboratively as "teacher-researchers."   The Chesapeake Bay is the context in which these teacher-researchers will conduct research and consider critical curricular linkages to the middle and upper elementary school classrooms.

SOLstice focuses on the substance of the disciplines in science and the development of good "disciplinary thinking" (Howard Gardner’s Five Minds for the Future.)  Participating teacher-researchers are immersed in both the complexity of authentic scientific investigations and the challenges of transferring scientific knowledge to multidimensional civic issues and to the classrooms.

Longwood has a 9-year association with the Science Education for New Civic Engagements and Responsibilities (SENCER) program.  Though focused on students in higher education, the SENCER Ideals are in many ways the solution to the big "turn off" to science that occurs in the middle grades.  With its focus on civic engagement and the resolution of public issues through practical, engaged learning and mathematical and scientific ways of knowing, SENCER challenges students to take responsibility for their learning in a positive way.

The three-week academic design of this program perfectly mirrors the Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) recommendations that experiences should consist of a preparation phase, an outdoor action phase, and a reflection, analysis and reporting phase.

 Goals of the Course

  • To engage practicing and pre-service teachers actively in scientific investigation, emphasizing inquiry learning
  • To increase the participants’ content knowledge of selected Chesapeake Bay issues
  • To introduce participants to tools, techniques and technology used in field data Collection Watershed Educational Experiences for their own students
  • To engage practicing and pre-service teachers with practicing scientists and natural resource professionals
  • To re-energize practicing teachers in the disciplines that brought them into teaching in the first place
  • To inspire pre-service teachers to become teacher-researchers
  • To introduce participants to valuable resources that can enrich their students’ classroom and field experiences
  • To focus on issues and environmental subjects included in the Virginia Science Standards of Learning


For the 2012 season, a writing course was added to the SOLstice program, changing the acronym just a bit to Summer of Learning:  Students and Teachers Investigating the Chesapeake Environment.  In their writing assignments and videos, students considered various aspects of the environment and the rich history in Westmoreland County as subjects.  The writing program continued in 2013.