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NORFOLK – The Department of Defense (DoD) Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) and the Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana, Virginia, Environmental (EV) staff within the Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Mid-Atlantic (NAVFAC MIDLANT) Public Works Department (PWD) teamed up to provide static environmental literature and exhibits during the interactive Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) event at the NAS Oceana Air Show, Sept. 15. More than 6,000 5th-grade students from the cities of Chesapeake and Virginia Beach, Virginia, were in attendance.
Students were able to test their recycling knowledge and speed through a competitive relay by sorting recyclable items and items meant for trash disposal. Students learned the importance of recycling and proper waste disposal to help reduce waste, conserve our natural resources, and prevent trash from entering our waterways.
“Sorting plastic waste to avoid recycling stream contamination is tricky and it’s great to reinforce proper disposal techniques,” said DoD CBP Coordinator Kevin Du Bois. “The recycle relay is a fun activity and it provides a great opportunity for student and adult learning.”
Through the use of a hands-on watershed model called an Enviroscape, students discovered how different land uses can potentially contribute to stormwater pollution, including residential, industrial, and agricultural activities. Pollutants, such as pet waste, oil, fertilizer, detergents, sediment, and others, have an impact on water quality and can detrimentally impact recreational water activities such as fishing and swimming.
“It is always so inspiring to see these kids become engaged in learning about stormwater pollution prevention and what we can do to keep our waterways clean,” said PWD Oceana EV Division Water Program Manager Tara Fisher. “Many times, the students were eager to tell us what they do (or don’t do) at home in preventing pollutants from making their way downstream.”
Another hands-on activity on display at the event was a mobile spill kit provided by PWD Oceana EV Division Waste Program Manager Jefferson Ghent, where students deployed oil absorbent fabric to simulate how oil spills would be cleaned up in aquatic and marine environments.
“It was encouraging to see the students excited to interact with the hands-on exhibits and learn how they can be good stewards of their environment and help protect it for future generations,” Ghent said.
With this marking the second year back since the COVID-19 pandemic, the NAS Oceana Air Show S.T.E.M. event was again a highlight for the students in attendance. These activities help fulfill stewardship and literacy goals embodied in the EPA Executive Order 13508 for Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration outreach commitments.
“It was wonderful being a part of the S.T.E.M. event,” said Regional Environmental Coordination Director Blake Waller. “Hopefully, we helped build on their classroom foundation and made lasting connections with the next generation of scientist and engineers. We look forward to continuing this engagement in 2024.”
NAVFAC MIDLANT provides facilities engineering, public works, and environmental products and services across an area of responsibility that spans from South Carolina to Maine, as far west as Illinois, and down to Indiana. As an integral member of the Commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic team, NAVFAC MIDLANT provides leadership through the Regional Engineer organization to ensure the region’s facilities and infrastructure are managed efficiently and effectively.
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