In July, more than 100 Westmoreland County fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders will take advantage of all Hull Springs Farm offers in a new environmental education camp spearheaded by Longwood graduates Patty Hale ’16 and James Wilson ’16.
At Longwood University’s Camp for Environmental Exploration—Camp LUCEE—the students will explore the environment in activities that incorporate Virginia Standards of Learning material and hopefully develop an interest in sustainability issues.
The idea originated with Dr. Rená Koesler, chair of the Department of Health, Athletic Training, Recreation and Kinesiology (HARK), as a way to increase outreach to state school systems and form the foundation of an exciting new environmental education program at Longwood.
"We’ve been working with Dr. Koesler on developing an environmental education camp for elementary children at Longwood," said Wilson. "This idea really checked a lot of boxes—not only is it an opportunity for university students to complete a practicum experience, but it’s really at the heart of the Longwood mission to go out into the community and have a positive impact. It’s an awesome opportunity for us and the Westmoreland students."
The two camps, July 11-15 and 25-29, will focus on hands-on learning and exploration.
"The curriculum for this camp was built on conversations with students in Westmoreland County schools," said Hale. "We spent a lot of time digging into what they knew about environmental issues and what made summer camps exciting for them, and Camp LUCEE sprang up."
"Hull Springs Farm’s mission is to be a model of conservation and good stewardship. We also have a responsibility to be good community partners and use the farm as a tool to enrich the education of local students."Sherry Swinson
The program will incorporate the living shoreline, a project that investigates ways to protect the Chesapeake Bay coastline from erosion, and children will lean to identify plants, animals and aquatic life. There will also be a fun day of swimming, as the children requested, and interpretive programs at neighboring Westmoreland State Park.
Hale and Wilson recruited current Longwood students as well as five certified teachers for the first of what they hope will be many Hull Springs Farm summer camps. Westmoreland County Schools will provide recertification credits for teachers helping with the camp, and transportation, meals and snacks for the children. Longwood student volunteers will earn internship credits and community service hours.
Hull Springs Farm Executive Director Sherry Swinson hopes the camp will foster a lifetime connection with nature and inspire the children to be good stewards of the earth.
"Hull Springs Farm’s mission is to be a model of conservation and good stewardship," she said. "We also have a responsibility to be good community partners and use the farm as a tool to enrich the education of local students."
Mary Farley Ames Lee ’38 bequeathed 662-acre Hull Springs Farm in rural Westmoreland County to Longwood in 1999. It is currently home to several ongoing research projects in the department of biological and environmental sciences, including forest-management strategies, wetland mitigation, environmental sustainability, shoreline erosion and archaeology.