Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Dominion Grant Offers Learning Opportunity On Dragon Run

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GLOUCESTER – When they return to class in the fall, nearly a dozen educators from the Middle Peninsula will have great stories to tell about their summer school experience.

Thanks to a $16,264 grant from Dominion Energy, the Friends of Dragon Run non-profit organization has developed a three-day academy to provide teachers hands-on educational experiences on the 40-mile ecosystem that winds its way through Gloucester, King and Queen, Essex, and Middlesex counties. The program, which will be led by experienced teachers and naturalists, is called the Dragon Run Environmental Academy Mentorship (DREAM).

Molly Broderson, who is on the board of the Friends of Dragon Run, said the educators will participate in a Meaningful Watershed Education Experience (MWEE). She added the state mandates all elementary, middle school, and high school students participate in MWEEs.

“But there’s nobody out there enforcing it,” Broderson said.

After learning about and seeing the Dragon firsthand, the teachers then will be able to relay that to their students.

“The grant is based on educating and allowing teachers to have that experience,” Broderson said.

The grant was part of Dominion Energy’s Environmental Education and Stewardship program. Crystal Bright, an external affairs manager for Dominion, said the grants focus “on nonprofit organizations and schools that support protecting and preserving the environment as well as teaching others about the environment.”

She added the grant application “grabbed our attention as a project to support because it covers training teachers on what is in our environment – specifically in Dragon Run – through hands-on experience, so that these educators can share that with their students.”

The academy is scheduled for August 1 through August 3 with ten teachers representing Gloucester, Essex, Mathews, and Middlesex counties. This year’s curriculum is targeted for seventh-grade science.

“Their Standards of Learning align beautifully with everything that happens on the Dragon,” Broderson said.

However, the hope is to expand to other grade levels and subjects, tying in their Standards of Learning.

“We are having science teachers primarily attend, but we could also have an art teacher because you can tie it all in,” she said. “Learning is learning.”

The Friends of Dragon Run wants to make middle school and high school students aware of the significance the waterway has on the Chesapeake Bay watershed, as well as how important it was to the indigenous peoples and early European colonists.

Once the teachers complete the three-day academy, they will be able to apply for a limited number of openings to bring students on the guided, organized kayak runs down the Dragon.

“The experience alone will stay with all involved for the rest of their lives,” Bright said.

Those runs are held three times throughout the year. The spring season just ended, summer trips run from July 19 through July 30, and the fall season is scheduled for October19 through November 6. Registration goes fast.

The grant also will allow FODR to install cameras along the waterway.

“The advantage of having these cameras is we will try to handle it virtually and then they’ll be doing projects based on this knowledge in their school,” Broderson said.

Carol Kauffman, vice president of FODR, said, “We are excited about providing this opportunity to local educators and students. The Dragon Run watershed is truly a unique gift we have here on the Middle Peninsula, and we want to ensure that our youth have the knowledge and tools to continue protecting and preserving it.”

For more information on the Dragon Run, visit

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