What is DREAM?
Members of the Youth and Community Outreach Committee, Susan Walton, Bambi Thompson, Molly Broderson, Carol Kauffman, and Terry Skinner, met in 2022 to discuss ideas to make future scheduled kayak trips for students a more meaningful experience. After sharing ideas and thoughts the committee agreed the missing ingredient seemed to be the educator’s hands-on experiences on the Dragon Run. And from there, a dream was born!
DREAM, Dragon Run Environmental Academy Mentorship, was created as a program to train and mentor educators that serve seventh grade life science students in Essex, Gloucester, King and Queen, Mathews, and Middlesex Counties. This grade level was selected as it aligns with the Virginia Standards of Learning and the students’ maturity level to explore the Dragon Run, ideal. The team, all previous educators, felt strongly that educators needed to feel comfortable and knowledgeable BEFORE bringing their students to kayak and hike the trails in the Dragon Watershed. They also believed the educators needed to be compensated for their time which required funding.
The committee, nicknamed The DREAM Team, looked at possible funding sources. One of the members thought Dominion Energy offered grants that might align well with DREAM and as they say, the rest is history! The proposal application was submitted and was selected to receive $16,264 on December 6, 2022. Since December, the team has been planning, ordering materials, and excitedly sharing the love for the Dragon with each other.
The curriculum for DREAM is based on “An Educator’s Guide to the Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience” or MWEE. “MWEEs are learner-centered experiences that focus on investigations into local environmental issues that lead to informed action and civic engagement. Teachers play an important role in presenting unbiased information and assisting students with their research and exploration.” The educators will experience MWEEs and in turn, use MWEEs to guide their students as they answer the question, "How will YOU save the Dragon?"
The first DREAM has become a reality. On August 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, six educators from local schools participated in this professional in-service program at our Big Island complex. The instructors, all volunteers, were experienced educators and FODR members. The local teachers were immersed in a number of field experiences throughout the three days. Each day included nature hikes, kayaking paddle trips, and stream-side water investigations. These activities will enable them to develop Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences(MWEEs) for their own students. FODR volunteers will mentor them throughout the school year and host field days for their students.
Press Release 8/7/23
Peninsula Chronicle 6/9/23
Rappahannock Record 2/23/23
Prothonotary Warbler - Tom Crockett