Programs that aim to build a better community

Beekeeping, coding, and educational partnerships hope to make positive change.

© photografiero, Adobe Stock

Honey Bee Initiative
George Mason University’s Honey Bee Initiative is partnering with Fairfax County to convert mowed land at the I-95 Landfill Complex in Lorton into meadows that are ideal for honeybee pollination. In October 2016, landfill staff seeded the first two acres with a county-prepared meadow mix, followed by two more seeded acres in April. And in the next five years, landfill complex manager Eric Forbes plans to convert about 25 acres. The initiative, a collaboration between Mason’s School of Business and College of Science, got started in 2012 with seed money and bees from the Sweet Virginia Foundation. There are 12 colonies of honeybees at the landfill traveling in a 2-mile radius around the Lorton site as they forage. Both Fairfax County and Covanta, the private company that transfers waste into ash at the landfill, are funding the project.

Loudoun County Brewers Association
Loudoun breweries joined forces in an official capacity in early 2017, providing a platform for the members to collaborate, share tips and experiences and promote the county’s breweries. The association will also host themed brew schedules. For instance, in February each brewery had their own take on a milk stout.

Health care incubator program
Students interested in health care will be able to take part in a Career and Technical Education pathway during the 2018-2019 school year thanks to a collaboration between Alexandria City Public Schools and the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. The new program will be housed at T.C. Williams High School.

Computer coding program
Students at Meadowland ElementaryMoorefield Station Elementary and Round Hill Elementary will get at least 30 minutes of computer coding experience per day following the Loudoun County Public School system’s partnership with Code to the Future. This decision makes Loudoun County the first public school system to have computer science immersion schools in the state.

Opioid overdose training
Through a program called REVIVE!, as part of the Northern Virginia nonprofit The Chris Atwood Foundation, trainers hold public and private training sessions by showing participants how to use Naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, effectively reviving an affected individual. Anyone in Virginia is legally allowed to carry and administer the drug.

Healthy lunch options
Three Arlington high schools—Wakefield, Washington-Lee and Yorktown—are part of a program, Café + Teria, in which food service company Cuisine Solutions provides fresh lunch options. Students will be able to select ingredients in four steps to build a nutritious meal by picking a base of grain, salad or a wrap; a protein (sous-vide style)—antibiotic-free chicken, ground beef, or Paneer cheese; a topping of vegetables, cheese and sauces; and a dressing.

Social class
Fourth and fifth grade boys at Hartwood Elementary School in Stafford are focusing on social graces through a pilot program designed by the school’s principal Scott Elchenko. The six-week program teaches social manners and etiquette.

Neonatal kitten nursery
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington’s new kitten ICU, nicknamed the Kitten Academy, that opened mid-2017 is for neonatal and critically ill kittens less than 8 weeks old and provides round-the-clock care, such as bottle-feeding every two to three hours and a delicate process involving a wet wipe that incentivizes the motherless kittens to go to the bathroom. Additionally, the nursery will also be put to use as a critical care wing for sick kittens under 8 weeks old.

Suicide prevention law
In June, Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed Senate Bill 117, which requires any person who is either gaining or renewing a license to be a school counselor to complete training on mental health disorders and behavioral distress including depression, trauma, violence, youth suicide and substance abuse.

Audubon-certified school
Loudoun County’s Tuscarora High School became an Audubon-certified wildlife sanctuary. After working with the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy to meet requirements that include attracting at least 10 of 35 sanctuary species, reducing pesticide and fertilizer use, maintaining good water quality, and removing and replacing invasive plants with native ones, the school met the requirements and was named the first school in the county to garner this certification.

Loudoun Commission on Women and Girls
Spearheaded by Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall, the commission formed to combat issues facing women and girls and provide advice and teaching on issues such as finances, domestic violence, social media safety, employment coaching and information on STEM fields.

Traffic stop behavior training
Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed a bill that now requires anyone taking a driver’s education class in Virginia to be taught how to behave during a traffic stop. With the law going into effect July 2017, Virginia became one of a handful of states to have such a requirement.

College credit transfers
George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College formed a specific partnership for those who were attempting to receive a degree as a mechanical engineer by having a duel-enrollment program. With the partnership proving positive, the schools are now looking at ways to expand the program into other majors by making sure transfer of credits is seamless with a single process for admissions and financial aid.

(January 2018)