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North Branch 1 of 3 Schools In Commonwealth Named A Virginia Naturally School For All 15 Years

[ 0 ] October 30, 2014 |
Photo Courtesy of NBS: Virginia Naturally Schools Chairperson Suzie Gilley (R) presents a certificate for the 15th year of recognition for environmental education and stewardship to North Branch School science teacher Toni Ranieri (L).

Photo Courtesy of NBS: Virginia Naturally Schools Chairperson Suzie Gilley (R) presents a certificate for the 15th year of recognition for environmental education and stewardship to North Branch School science teacher Toni Ranieri (L).

Afton
Nelson County, VA

Story Courtesy of NBS

North Branch School in Afton is one of only three schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia to be recognized as a Virginia Naturally school all 15 years the program, managed by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, has been offered.

According to Wildlife Education Coordinator and Virginia Naturally Schools Chairperson, Suzie Gilley, “The goal of the school recognition program is to recognize the efforts undertaken by Virginia schools that increase the environmental awareness and stewardship of its students. North Branch School has inspired students for 15 years to be environmental stewards.”

Gilley presented a Certificate of Recognition to North Branch science teachers Toni Ranieri, Margaret Lambert, Jennifer Page, and Maggie Buchanan, at a schoolwide assembly on Friday, October 24. In addition, as a 15-year school, North Branch received a collector’s wildlife print of a snowy owl to display at the school.

“At North Branch, children spend on average 120 minutes each day outdoors,” says Head Teacher, Charlotte Zinsser Booth. “In addition to free play and physical education time, our field and woods are classrooms for students. Gardening, tree identification, the study of animal tracks and shelters, and even a frog pond are part of our outdoor learning.”

Since 1983 North Branch School, which offers classes for students in preschool-8th grade, has made its home in Afton. Zinsser Booth says that the school is seeing their message of environmental stewardship carried forward to new generations. “Some of our alumni are now parents, and they are sharing their love for nature with their children. That is a true measure of the success of our environmental education program.”

In addition to on-campus learning, North Branch students have participated in hawk watches, trout in the classroom program and trout release into mountain creeks, hikes, stream monitoring, trash pickup, and several educational programs in the Chesapeake Bay area. “Because of our small class sizes, we are able to take many meaningful field trips each year related to our science curriculum,” Science teacher Margaret Lambert explains.

As part of the Virginia Naturally program, teachers at North Branch will be able to participate in free professional development workshops for environmental education. “I am pleased that our teachers are recognized for their work with students and have the opportunity to further their education,” Zinsser Booth concludes.

Those interested in learning more about the Virginia Naturally program or North Branch School may visit their websites at: vanaturally.com and north-branch-school.org

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