The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources has named eight public schools in Prince William County as Virginia Naturally Schools.
The Honor is the official recognition program for Commonwealth environmental education schools. Across Virginia, 35 schools have been recognized, according to a news release. The local schools are: Battlefield High School, Coles Elementary School, Dale City Elementary School, Freedom High School, Kilby Elementary School, Mullen Elementary School, Neabsco Elementary School and Piney Branch Elementary School.
“It’s great for [DWR] to recognize schools that make these efforts because we want students to be stewards of the environment. We want them to understand the positive impact they can have,” said Kathryn Forgas, principal of Coles Elementary, which has received the honor nine times. “We’ve met and worked with some helpful people, and we’re very proud to be recognized.”
Schools must apply for the exam each year, and after the first year the school must meet additional requirements. As ninth-grade applicants, Coles staff had to detail their school’s growth from previous years and show how their program met the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement’s goal of that Commonwealth students have at least one meaningful educational experience in the watershed.
“This award shows proof of the commitment and success of schools that have school-wide activities and programs to increase students’ environmental education and stewardship,” said Jeanne Jabara, coordinator energy education at PWCS, in the release.