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Story of Impact: Elizabeth River Project Meets Match, Plans to Bring More Education Programs to Paradise Creek Nature Park

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Story of Impact: Elizabeth River Project Meets Match, Plans to Bring More Education Programs to Paradise Creek Nature Park

The Elizabeth River Project has met The Match! The Match, formerly known as the TowneBank/SEVACF Challenge, was initiated and agreed upon in 2013, and calls on local nonprofit organizations to start endowment funds with the Foundation. Although housed and administered by SEVACF, such funds are intended to support the needs of their respective organizations.

Upon establishing their fund, a nonprofit must pledge to raise between $20,000 and $50,000 over a one-year period. When their pledge has been met, we double their endowment by matching their raised amount with a portion from the TowneBank Foundation and SEVACF money, combined.

The Elizabeth River Project is our first organization to have achieved such a feat. With headquarters across from the High Street Ferry Landing on the Portsmouth waterfront, the Elizabeth River Project leads community-wide action to restore the environmental health of the Elizabeth River.

In 2013, Elizabeth River Project opened Paradise Creek Nature Park as Portsmouth’s third largest public park. The project has been working since 2008 to improve the park’s 40 acres for education and recreation. In Portsmouth, grades pre-kindergarten through high school have already visited the new park as their field station. The younger students planted trees they grew in the classroom while the high school students tested water quality from the pedestrian bridge and studied many principles of ecology.

“I’ve had the best two days of my teaching career,” said Dara Brinkman, Portsmouth ecology teacher, as she began field trips to the park. “Being able to teach from first-hand experiences rather than from textbooks makes all the difference,” she said.

Marcus Jones, gardening columnist for the Virginian-Pilot, recently called Paradise Creek Nature Park “a true native treasure for Hampton Roads…We were there only an hour-and-a-half and this was not nearly enough time to enjoy all of it.”

Consequent to hearing they met their match, the project’s board of directors plan to use disbursements from their SEVACF endowment fund for education programs at the park to teach people of all ages how to improve the health of our home river. “We are so proud and so excited to have met the challenge match,” said Marjorie Mayfield Jackson, Executive Director, Elizabeth River Project.

In addition, the Elizabeth River Project is looking forward to their other upcoming programs at the park as well. Their Forestry Stewardship Corps program will help the Elizabeth River Project target invasive plants and rejuvenate the forest of Paradise Creek Nature Park. Invasive plants impact the health of the forest by killing off natives, changing the habitat, and affecting the food chain. This program will help educate the community on how to identify and remove these plants and restore the habitat in the residents’ own backyard. This program is being held Saturday, December 5 (2-4 pm), Friday, December 11 (2-4 pm), Saturday, December 12 (9-11 am), and Saturday, December 19 (2-4 pm). This program is FREE – registration is required.

Also just in time for the holidays, the Elizabeth River Project will put your tree knowledge to the test! Local expert and Chesapeake Master Gardener, Ed Bradley, will take the public on a journey through the woods and teach them how to identify the trees found at Paradise Creek Nature Park and Virginia’s Tidewater. This program is best for adults, but children are welcome to join. This program is being held Saturday, December 19 (9-10:30 am). This program is FREE – registration is required.

For more information about the Elizabeth River and its programs, visit www.elizabethriver.org or www.paradisecreeknaturepark.org .

For more information about how you can participate in The Match, click here.

 

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